A Penguins blog called Superstar Treatment, has creatively released a Maxime Talbot “Shhh” tee-shirt, immortalizing one of the more confusing and debated events in recent Flyers – Penguins history.
The description on the site reads , “Relive what was probably one of the best moments, and certainly one of the most unique, in Pens playoff history and show your support!”
But the only thing unique about what took place that day, is how both sides view it.
Many people speculated that Flyers’ forward Jeff Carter was battling injury after only scoring one goal in six playoff games. He led the Flyers with 46 goals during the regular season, but seemed to lack potency in the second season.
And it’s starting to make sense why.
According to a report from CSN, Carter played a majority of the playoffs with a separated his shoulder suffered in game 3 against the Penguins in Philadelphia. The injury may have hampered his offensive output for the rest of the series.
“Jeff kinda fell into the boards awkwardly and separated his shoulder,” General Manager Paul Holmgren said. “It won’t require surgery but it was enough of an injury it hampered him. He just can’t play right now. He needs to rest it.”
The injury was announced by Holmgren after Carter declined an invitation to join Team Canada in Switzerland for the IIHF World Championships.
At one point in the contest, the Flyers were booking their flight to Pittsburgh for game seven. But with four unanswered goals and more power play impotency from Philly, the Flyers dropped the game in front of a national audience, ending their season in devastating fashion, while the Penguins advance to face the winner of New Jersey – Carolina.
Down three games to one in the series, the Flyers battled back to force a game six at home. And all appeared well after goals from Danny Briere, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble rocketed the Flyers to a 3-0 lead. But like a microcosm of the season as a whole, the Flyers showed inconsistency offensively and got sub-par goaltending to waste the game.
Early in the second period, Ruslan Fedotenko scored a garbage goal in front to get the Pens on the board at 3-1 and get the team moving. Shortly after, Pittsburgh defenseman Mark Eaton tapped in a rebound in mid air past Marty Biron to cut the lead to 3-2. On a similar play, just minutes later, Sidney Crosby smashed in another mid air rebound by Biron, to lock the score at three.
Stunned and bewildered, the Flyers came out in the third period with no momentum. And the Penguins countered. Sergei Gonchar took a drop pass from Evgeni Malkin at the blue line. The potent blue liner set up and ripped a slap shot past Biron, low stick side, giving the Pens the 4-3 lead. Biron had no screen on the play.
The Flyers did everything they could to lock the game back up, but it wasn’t enough to beat Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 22 saves and was clutch late in the game.
Mike Knuble, Marty Biron, Antero Niittymaki and Andrew Alberts are all pending UFA.
Midway through the 2008-09 season, it seemed as if Florida’s all-star defenseman and upcoming unrestricted free agent, Jay Bouwmeester, would leave the Panthers as soon as it was possible and not look back. But as the lockers got cleaned out in Sunrise, Bouwmeester talked about keeping his options open. Kinda.
With the Flyers holding the 3-2 lead going into the final period, the visiting Rangers, with nothing to play for, scored two unanswered third-period goals, to beat the Flyers, 4-3, and drop them to the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The loss gives the Penguins home-ice advantage for the first two games of the opening round of the playoffs against the Flyers, which will begin on Wednesday.
All the Flyers needed was one point to clinch the fourth spot, but were unable to hang on due to goals by Blair Betts and Sean Avery. Philadelphia also gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season to Brandon Dubinsky, with 5:13 left in the first period. They were attempting to be the first time in three decades to go an entire season without giving up a shorty.
In an identical move that brought amateur defenseman David Sloane to the Flyers for a 24-hour period on Thursday, as a result of another Ryan Parent groin injury, General Manager Paul Holmgren has signed University of New Hampshire defenseman Jamie Fritsch to a try out contract, meaning he can play for the Flyers with no cap hit for 24-hours.
At 6-foot-2, 200 lbs, 24-year old Fritsch is a physical, defensive defenseman and a native of Maryland. Despite not scoring a lot of points, Fritsch is a plus-minus monster. In 33 games last season, he was a +17 in 37 games, while only contributing 10 points.
With injuries to Riley Cote and Ryan Parent, the inability to Cote on the LTIR leaves the Flyers with both player’s salaries stuck on the books. The predicament maxes the cap space, but leaves the Flyers still needing a body on the blue line. When the regular season ends, the salary cap becomes meaningless and the Flyers can bring up players anytime, with no penalty.
For most of March and all of April, it seemed as if the Flyers would be facing the Carolina Hurricanes in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The only variable being who would have home ice. Well on the last game of the season for most teams in the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, to leap frog past the losing Hurricanes into the fifth spot, directly into the warpath of the Flyers.
With Philadelphia, Carolina and Pittsburgh all tied for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with 97 points, it’s clear that with the end of the regular season just around the corner, the winner of home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs could very well come down to who wins today.
With two games remaining to Carolina and Pittsburgh’s one, the Flyers could avoid depending on a tiebreaker by winning out. The tiebreaker consists of which team has more wins and that is something the Flyers want to avoid, since they will not win.
The Hurricanes have 45 wins to the Flyers’ 43, making today’s afternoon game against the New York Islanders, crucial to securing the fourth spot. If the Flyers lose to the Islanders and Carolina wins against the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes will clinch fourth. If the Penguins and Hurricanes both win and the Flyers lose, the Flyers, who will also have less wins than the Penguins, will sink to sixth in the conference, only able to tie both teams, but will lose the tiebreaker, even with a win in their final game against the New York Rangers.
However, it also works the other way. If Carolina loses to the Devils and the Flyers defeat the Islanders, Philly will be in the driver’s seat in stealing the fourth spot with one game remaining to clinch the spot.
Given the circumstance, amateur defenseman turn NHL blue liner for the day, David Sloane, did not have a bad game on Thursday, despite only getting 6:44 of ice time and having one blocked shot. But there is something to say about a Philly guy playing his first game at the highest level, against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, in a playoff-style atmosphere.
“One minute I’m in Albany (with the Phantoms), the next I’m in a rental car coming down to New York,” Sloane said. “It was a total surprise to me.”
Because defenseman Ryan Parent was still feeling the lingering effects of a groin tweak. And Riley Cote was out with a bum finger. The Flyers were stuck with both players’ salary on the books and needed a replacement on defense, while being pressed hard against the cap. The solution — sign an amateur on the Phantoms that hasn’t played a professional game and play him within 24-hours. Signing Sloane meant that for 24-hours, the 24-year old defenseman from Colgate University, wouldn’t count against the cap.
“It’s not an ideal situation to be in,” said Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren. “I don’t particularly like playing short-handed. David Sloane is a college hockey player who has never played a pro game. Is he ready for the National Hockey League? Probably not, but he’s going to be put under fire.”
Lucky for the Flyers, Parent will be ready to play on Saturday against the New York Islanders, while Sloane will get sent back to the Phantoms.
Also in defensive news, the Flyers have assigned Luca Sbisa to the Phantoms. Sbisa’s junior season ended Wednesday night, making him eligable to go pro for the rest of the season. Sbisa will join the Flyers once the playoffs start, when the salary cap becomes virtually meaningless.
It was reported earlier that Phantoms’ defender Danny Syvret would take the place of injured defenseman Ryan Parent, tonight versus the New York Rangers. But that won’t be the case. The Flyers have went the unconventional route and signed 6-foot-4, 220 lbs. defenseman David Sloane out of Colgate University to a try out contract. Sloane will take the place of Parent tonight as the Flyers face the Rangers in a crucial end of the season match up. What a welcome to professional hockey.
“I just want to keep it simple and play my game,” said Sloane. “I want to get the butterflies out early, which I am sure there will be plenty of.”
Sloane played four years at Colgate and had 10 goals and 13 assists, with 100 penalty minutes. He was born in Philadelphia and is a native of Ambler, Pennsylvania. Because of the injury emergency call-up rules, Sloane is available to play for the Flyers in a 24-hour period after signing. He will wear number 40.