If someone saw Flyers’ forward Jared Ross in the supermarket, they may mistake him for a bagger or cashier. But the diminutive 26-year old with a boyish face and 5-foot-9, 170 lbs. frame has not only played in the NHL, but has done something no one else, big or small, has ever done: Be a native of Alabama and score a goal.
Less than four minutes in the third period of the Flyers – Penguins game three matchup, Ross grabbed an Andrew Alberts rebound and stuck it into the net, giving his team the much-needed insurance goal and 5-2 lead. The tally was not only the first of his career, but inked him into the record books. Ross celebrated accordingly.
For rookie Claude Giroux, it was a game of firsts.
In front of a national audience in a must-win postseason game, many youngsters may be timid. But not Giroux. The rookie out of Gatineau scored his first playoff NHL goal and assist and even had time to get in his first fight, which he won via take down. Giroux powered the Flyers to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped notch Philly’s first win in the series. The Flyers remain down 2-1 in the best of seven and will return to the Wachovia Center, Tuesday for game four.
After the Penguins silenced the Flyers’ big guns in games one and two, they failed to continue the trend in game three. Jeff Carter opened scoring early in the first period and a few minutes later, Mike Richards tallied on the power play to make it 2-0. The Flyers’ first multi-goal lead of the series. Simon Gagne netted a shorthanded goal from a beautiful pass from Giroux and rookie Jared Ross scored his first-ever NHL goal for the insurance. The Flyers had five different players score, one from each line, an both a shorty and powerplay tally.
But the win wasn’t without a scare. With less than a minute to play in the opening stanza, a failed defensive assignment by multiple Flyers led to an Evgeni Malkin goal to cut the Flyers’ lead in half. The Pens carried the momentum into the second when Rob Scuderi scored from the point, less than a minute into the middle period.
But the Flyers battled back. Giroux regained the lead for the Flyers, burying a perfect pass from Danny Briere, for the 3-2 lead.
Flyers’ fans were absolutely ballistic in what could be the most energetic and exciting game (other than maybe the Montreal – Bruins series) so far in the post season.
After cutting down his selection to only a handful of teams, including the very interested Flyers, Hobey Baker winner and Boston University defenseman Matt Gilroy, has signed a two-year, $4.5 million, one-way contract with the New York Rangers. Twice what the Flyers were offering.
The Long Island native and amateur free agent stirred up a great deal of interest after the country watched him lead his Terriers to the national championship. Gilroy went undrafted because at 18-years old, he was only 5-foot-9 and was considered too small to be a factor at the professional level. But by the time he reached 21, he was 6-foot-2 and very capable.
Gilroy’s biggest asset is his leadership and character. He comes from a big family and wears the number 97 in honor of a passed sibling. On the ice, he has excellent vision and stick handling ability. He is also good in his own end, which makes him a valuable asset.
Gilroy simply adds to the Rangers’ stockpile of young defensemen, that includes Michael Del Zotto and Bobby Sanguinetti.
The Flyers have announced that rookie Luca Sbisa will replace suspended Daniel Carcillo as forward for game two of the Flyers – Penguins first-round series. Naturally a defenseman, Sbisa has played forward on the fourth line sparingly for the Flyers during the regular season. It will be his first career NHL playoff game.
With Kimmo Timonen and Randy Jones missing practice on Thursday due to injuries, it makes sense to have your emergency defenseman dressed. Sbisa is strong on the forecheck and can move the puck. However, his finishing skills are a bit off.
Sbisa was brought up to the Phantoms after his season with Lethbridge of the WHL ended. He was then brought up from the Phantoms to the Flyers the instant Philly’s post season began because of salary cap allowences in the playoffs.
Darroll Powe will move to a line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.
Unlike the bad luck Flyers in 2007, the New York Islanders were the worst team in the NHL and justifiably received the first overall selection in the 2009 NHL entry draft. The lottery selection went into action Tuesday at Scotiabank place in Ottawa.
The Islanders were followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche, for number two and three. New York is expected to take hyped up forward John Tavares, but knowing Islanders’ General Manager Garth Snow, trading down is always an option. One team very interested in moving up to get Tavares is Toronto, which holds the seventh pick.
“We’ll immediately attempt to move up,” said Leafs’ General Manager Brian Burke. in published reports. “We’re going to talk to everyone between us and the first pick and see what the landscape is.”
The rumor is that anyone on the Leafs’ roster besides defenseman Luke Schenn is on the table.
“No player is untradeable,” said Burke. “Wayne Gretzky got traded.”
If Toronto can’t move up to grab Tavares, it is very possible they will go after forward Brayden Schenn, the scrappy little brother of Luke. Brayden is considered a possible top-5 pick.
But no matter how the draft plays out, one thing is for sure — the Isles will be getting better.
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.
One day after playing noticeably bad in his first game with the Phantoms, defenseman Luca Sbisa recovered big time, by scoring his first professional goal and adding an assist in the Phantoms’ 3-2 loss to the Hershey Bears, Saturday.
The slap shot goal from the slot cut the Bears’ lead to 2-1 in second period. The Phantoms will take on Hershey in the first round of the post season.
Sbisa’s sluggish start back in Philadelphia could be due to fatigue. The Swiss blue liner arrived 20-pounds less than when he left the city midway through the NHL season. Sbisa was relied on heavily throughout the playoffs for the Hurricanes, at one time getting a gluttonous 41-minutes on ice time in game seven of the opening round against Saskatoon. That’s over two full periods.
The Flyers returned the rookie to Lethbridge of the WHL during the NHL season so they wouldn’t lose a year of his restricted free agent eligibility.
Sbisa will likely join the Flyers during the post seaso, as a seventh defender in case of emergencies. However, there is a possibility General Manager Paul Holmgren leaves him with the Phantoms for their playoff run.
A source close to to Flyers’ beat writer Anthony SanFilippo, has told him that the Flyers are showing a lot of interest in Boston University’s highly coveted defenseman Matt Gilroy and have sent a scout to the national championship game between BU and Miami (OH) tonight.
Gilroy, 24-year old and undrafted because he was too small at the time, had a tremendous season with the Terriers, winning the Hobey Baker award, which is essentially the Heisman trophy of hockey. As the captain, he led Hockey East in scoring from a defender with eight goals and had 28 assists in 44 games.
Gilroy is a 6-foot-2, 200 lbs. offensive defenseman, but is solid in his own end. And because of his age, would be ready to jump right into the NHL, unlike most amateur blue liners. According to SanFilippo, Gilroy’s camp has let the Flyers know that out of the many teams interested in his services, that Philadelphia is at the top of his list.
Born in New York, Gilroy’s father Frank Gilroy, was drafted into the NBA by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1981.
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.
Ryan Bright (Philabright@gmail.com) is a sports writer, born and raised in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of West Chester University, he has been with the Daily Local News in Chester County since early 2007, working as the paper's college and high school ice hockey beat writer. In 2010, began as a contributer for CSNPhilly.com, covering the Flyers and the Philadelphia Union.