With rookie forward James van Riemsdyk on the shelf with concussion symptoms for the past week, coach John Stevens made the decision to stick creative winger Claude Giroux on the team’s top line centered by Mike Richards. The idea was to not only spark Giroux’s production but to get struggling Simon Gagne more scoring chances in hopes that he would break out of his post groin injury slump (three assists in five games).
The unconfirmed belief was that Giroux would return to centering the third line once JVR returned, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
One day before the Flyers travel to Florida for a five-day team building trip, Flyers’ coach John Stevens explains his thoughts on the team’s heartbreaking 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim on Saturday. Teemu Selanne scored two third-period goals, including one to tie the game with 16-seconds remaining.
“When you lose a game like that it stings and I hate losing,” Stevens said. “There was a breakdown on the first goal and after looking at the second goal about 100 times, there is a couple things we can address and do better. But sometimes great players make great plays. Every guy on the ice at that time has come to us and asked if they could have done something differently, (the Ducks) just made a great play in that situation.”
Despite back-to-back losses, the Flyers have earned seven of a possible 10 points in the first five games of the season. A big change over the team’s 0-3-3 record after the first six games of the 2008-09 season.
“Our team is playing hard,” Stevens said. “We like the thing we’ve done in the games. We’ve been out chancing the other team, the power play moving the puck great, Ray (Emery) has been sharp in the net. Lots of good things to like after the first five games.”
The Flyers will be back in action on Oct. 16 against the Florida Panthers.
The Flyers and Ducks are an interesting match up at any time because of the organizational similarities. Both teams covet the same toughness and grit in their players and that earns mutual respect between the franchises. It’s no coincidence that Anaheim’s top young talent Bobby Ryan is a Philadelphia native. And it’s also no coincidence that when the Flyers needed a tough and skilled defenseman in the offseason, they went after the long-coveted Ducks’ blue liner Chris Pronger.
After facing league inquisition for allegedly biting Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang in the waning moments of the Flyers’ 5-4 loss on Thursday night, forward Scott Hartnell has been found not guilty of any biting.
The league has reviewed the incident and Hartnell will not be suspended nor fined.
“We participated in a disciplinary hearing this A.M.,” said Hartnell’s agent Allan Walsh on his twitter. “The verdict: no suspension, no fine.”
According to John Boruk of Csnphilly.com, a league source explained that Letang made the mistake of going back to the locker room after the incident. It may have been a different story had Letang stayed on the ice.
During the final seconds of the Flyers’ 5-4 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night, Flyers’ forward Scott Hartnell attacked Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, whom he thought shoved Mike Richards head first into the net. The two grappling players tumbled to the ice in a heap of humanity. Moments later after separation, Letang skated feverishly to his bench grasping his hand.
Letang returned to the bench with a trainer just seconds later to allow the referees to look closely at his towel-wrapped finger. The problem? Letang claims Hartnell bit him.
The early season rivalry tour continues for the Flyers tonight as they take on the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season. And if you’re wondering if the Orange and Black are still unhappy about getting ejected from the postseason for the second year in a row by the Pens — just look at the lineup dressed for tonight.
Bad news for the Penguins on Thursday — Arron Asham has something to prove.
The rough-and-tough Asham, who scored eight goals, 12 assists and 155 penalty minutes in 78 games last season, will make his 2009-10 season debut on Thursday and is expected to be on the third line aside Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe.
“I’m hoping to stay in the lineup for the rest of the year,” said a very serious Asham, who was scratched for the team’s first three games. “I’ll get my chance, I’ll work hard and keep my spot. I’m definitely not going to give it up easily.”