Through 28 games, the Flyers have built their Atlantic Division-leading success on the back of their depth. Role players, rookies and everyone in between has been asked to grab a bigger role, play above themselves, and by brushing off the rush of constant adversity, have been able to thrive in doing so with a surprising 18-7-3 record.
On Tuesday night, as they visit the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Capitals, the remaining healthy Flyers need to reach down one more time and come away with their best character performance yet — one without leading scorer, catalyst and top-line center Claude Giroux, who is considered questionable with a potential head injury.
Although it was a Tuesday to forget for the Flyers, who fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning, there was something that should make the Philly faithful smile.
At some point during the Washington Capitals – Montreal Canadiens game, Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin hip checks Canadiens’ rookie PK Subban in the open ice. Subban flies up in the air and almost lands directly on his head. The rookie then went after Ovechkin, only to receive a penalty.
Earlier in the season, Flyers’ captain Mike Richards prognosticated that Subban would eventually receive his on-ice punishment for running his mouth in excess as a rookie.
With the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins less than a day away, hockey fans everywhere prepare themselves to hear the consistent over-fluffing of stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, mixed with the forced discussion of what a fierce, and mostly contrived, rivalry the two teams possess with one another.
But as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette found out, despite what the media and league try to strong-arm into the New Year’s Day game, the Penguins’ players know that their animosity with the Capitals takes a backseat to one a little more personal.
Last year it was the Stanley Cup, this time — fourth.
One year after predicting that Philadelphia would hoist the Cup, which despite early laughs was strangely on the mark, The Hockey News’ prediction for the 2010-11 season has the Flyers landing fourth in the Eastern Conference.
According to the THN print edition (the online edition is releasing one ranking per day), standing in the way of the Orange and Black is Boston (3rd), Pittsburgh (2nd) and Washington (1st). The rankings would have the Penguins beating the Flyers out for the Atlantic Division title and would set the Flyers up with a first-round playoff rematch against the New Jersey Devils (5th).
The rankings also have the New York Islanders and New York Rangers both missing the playoffs and hanging in lottery draft pick territory.
In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks were selected by THN to win the Cup, followed by San Jose (2nd), Detroit (3rd), Chicago (4th) and Los Angeles (5th).
According to a study by ESPN.com, the Wachovia Center had 15% of its vendors in “critical violation” of the health code in 2009.
“Inspectors found evidence of mouse and fruit fly infestations at one bar location.”
As revolting as that sounds, the home of the Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers ranks as the most compliant professional venue in the state of Pennsylvania and is in the upper echelon of all the arenas graded.
It’s going to be Winter Classic times two in 2011.
According to a report by TSN, the NHL is expected to announce two Winter Classic games in 2011 starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day and the Calgary Flames versus the Montreal Canadiens in a place to be determined and a time to be determined in February. The official announcement is expected to come on Friday.
In the first period of a 1-1 deadlock between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, Flyers’ forward Dan Carcillo took exception to a high stick from gritty Capitals’ forward Matt Bradley. Carcillo cross checked Bradley, then both squared off to fight. But before Bradley’s gloves hit the ice, Carcillo got the jump and knocked out Bradley with a hard right cross that sent the Flyers’ home crowd into a frenzy for the first time in over two weeks.
Carcillo received 2-minutes for instigator, 2-minutes for cross checking, 5-minutes for fighting, 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct. The penalties gave Washington a never-before-seen 9-minute power play, in which the Caps scored three times. Matt Bradley did not return to the game.
Any game misconduct is reviewed by the league office and deserving or not, Carcillo will likely be suspended. However, the referees, once again, rule by result, not intent. Bradley squared off and was in the process of dropping his gloves, simply getting beat to the draw. If Bradley eats the first punch and fights back, this becomes just another hockey fight. Say what you want about Carcillo and his lack of composure, but he has a history of being an honorable fighter.
The Flyers earned a Pyrrhic victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, winning the game 5-4 in OT but losing forwards Blair Betts and James van Riemsdyk to injuries.
Betts separated his shoulder in the third period and was said by general manager Paul Holmgren to miss at least four weeks.
JVR got his “bell rung” in the second period according to Holmgren. So sticking with their reputation of having players with severe brain problems, the Flyers sent him back to play in the third period. JVR said he didn’t feel right and left the game for good in the third. According to the Flyers, he will be reevaluated on Wednesday.
Barring a major line shake up, Ian Laperriere will take over for Betts as fourth-line center. The Flyers will activate Arron Asham and Riley Cote from the inactive list with Asham replacing JVR as third-line winger.
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.