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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Flyers’

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Bonanza

In Hockey on April 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

5281948Oh hey there, playoff hockey. Welcome back. Please, come in. Can I take your coat? Would you like a beer or are you more of a wine fan? Excellent, now please stay forever.

That’s right, we get playoff hockey back and I’m ready to actually do some writing for you loyal readers along with the binge drinking that comes with it. But as usual, work and video games got in the way of doing detailed breakdowns so I’m cramming everything into one post. I have avoided any preview material on the internet, so no one can alter my thoughts.

This is the part where I’m supposed to insert something funny before we get going, but I got nothing. I’m tired and the games are on, so let’s get this over with.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The fun and loveable Blue Jackets have a chance because Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the Pittsburgh net during the playoffs and damn it, it will make for an entertaining series at the very least. But too much Sidney Crosby and not enough support for Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky means the Pens move on. Don’t worry, their fans will still find plenty to complain about. Penguins in six.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I have bounced back and forth on this series several times. Henrik Lundqvist vs. Steve Mason feels like it should be enough for me pick the Rangers alone, but I can’t help myself. Claude Giroux has been nuts after the team got off to a terrible start and he carries it over to the playoffs. Flyers in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
If any team in the East might give the Bruins a scare in the opening round, Detroit is the one that could do just that. This is great for the game because it throws the Red Wings into a series with someone that they could develop an intense rivalry with. It should be deja vu for the Bruins as far as round one goes this year, but the result will be the same. Boston is too good. Bruins in seven.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Everyone is sleeping on this series but I think it will be an entertaining slugfest featuring the game’s best goal scorer and Canada’s only hope. Early advantage goes to Montreal as they boast one of the best goalies in the world while the Bolts’ MVP (Ben Bishop) is out for at least game one. That’s enough for me to take the Habs. Montreal in six.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Everyone in hockey has been waiting for the Avs to come crashing back to Earth based on their unsustainable fancy stats numbers and a goalie playing out of his mind. They’ll play former division foe Minnesota who would be primed for an upset if there wasn’t a giant question mark in the net. Avalanche in six.

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Division, we have missed thee. This series won’t be a throwback to the chaos that ensued during the Black and Blue Division’s heyday, but it’s going to be a war. St. Louis had the President’s Trophy in their sights before crapping the bed late in the year, giving us the matchup we all wanted one round early. St. Louis has been bad in every aspect of the game as of late and they’re going to need to get up for the Hawks before it’s too late. Chicago is too deep and the Blues have too many questions in net and on offense. Blackhawks in six.
Ed. Note: It was REALLY difficult to not rip on the Blues during that. Don’t worry, I’ll do plenty of that on Twitter.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Fire wagon hockey will be present in every single game of this series as both teams love to get up and down the ice. Dallas has been a blast to watch and they have the edge in net with Kari Lehtonen over, well, whoever the hell the Ducks decide to play in net. Both teams have a superstar duo and plenty of secondary scoring. But the Ducks have Cam Fowler. That’s enough for me to make my pick. Stars in six. #CamSucks

Want to read an actual preview of the series? Check out our buddy Pierre Canard’s in-depth preview.

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
My preview for this series is that I drink a lot and wind up in the fetal position because Antti Niemi can’t keep the puck out of the net. Yeah, I’m not going into much detail. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic and I don’t wanna talk about it and JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Shit. Kings in six.

That’s it. If you want something more in-depth, I’m sure you can find about 5,283 articles on each series. Want more of an in-depth answer from me on the series in the West? Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to answer. Also, follow along for the retweets, especially if you don’t like the Blues.


Philadelphia Flyers 2013-14 Season Preview

In Hockey on September 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

2013 Recap
Good lord. Where do I start? This team was downright bad last year. The Flyers were poor at even-strength, the defense was a mess, injuries decimated the team and the goaltending was once again a disaster. Needless to say, the Flyers didn’t make the playoffs.

So how did they improve to get back to the playoffs? Paul Holmgren made a mockery of the salary cap, spent a ton of money of forwards, some more money on an old defenseman, and brought in a goalie that went unbeaten in regulation off the bench for the best hockey team the league has seen in years. At least he did SOMETHING right in buying out Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere, but everyone expected that to happen.

So now that they’re finally healthy and the circus brought on by Bryzgalov is gone, are they better off for it?

Give me a reason to post a picture of a guy with a sweet mustache, and I'm going to take it. Claude Giroux has plenty to prove heading into an Olympic year.

Give me a reason to post a picture of a guy with a sweet mustache, and I’m going to take it. Claude Giroux has plenty to prove heading into an Olympic year.

Perhaps only the Penguins can say they boast a group of forwards as dangerous as this one. Not something you’d expect to hear about a team that missed the playoffs.

Claude Giroux is back from a freak golfing injury, and is joined by a stellar supporting cast that features Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, etc. I like the addition of Vincent Lecavalier to the second line. While he may not be the offensive he once was, he’s still an effective player that will help the team out. Jakub Voracek had a great year last year, but he’s been hurt for most of the preseason.

Guys like Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Max Talbot are all capable of scoring from the third and fourth lines. Zac Rinaldo is still on the team, and will probably be suspended more often than not.

When healthy, this defensive unit isn’t bad. But health was a big problem last year. Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn and new Flyer Mark Streit make up the top-four. Nicklas Grossmann and the oft-injured Andrej Meszaros make up the remainder of the top-six.

Again, not an awful unit, but they can’t afford to suffer any serious injuries. They have a nice mix of physical guys and pucker movers, but they all need to be better to keep the focus off the goaltending.

Who am I kidding? There will always be complaints about the goaltending.

I don’t hate the move to bring back Ray Emery. He had a nice year with Chicago last year and the Flyers got him for a good price. But he ain’t playing behind the defensive juggernaut that the Hawks had last year. He and Steve Mason are going to be tested alot this year. Mason was good after being traded to Philly, but that was for a team heading nowhere. It will be fun to see how they both fare in a full year in goaltending hell. But wake me when someone starts talking about bears in the forest. I demand to be entertained!

The Hat Trick

1. Even Strength Nightmares
Did you know the Flyers finished in the top-10 in both special team areas this year? I didn’t until I actually looked. That just goes to show how bad they were at 5-on-5 last year. Since that’s where most of the game is played, the Flyers need to clean up their act in order to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

2. Who Carries the Mail in Goal?
Some things never change. I expect the Flyers to use a platoon in net until further notice. At some point, I expect Emery to earn the bulk of the starts. But how will they both fare behind a questionable defense? Man is it gonna be fun to watch.

3. All About Giroux
I don’t know if there’s a player in the league that has more to prove this year than Claude Giroux. After being touted as the “best player in the world” after the team’s win over Pittsburgh in 2012, Giroux had a bit of a rough year in 2013. Now he has some incentive not only to re-establish himself as a player that’s at the same level as Sidney Crosby, but he’s in the mix to represent Canada in the Olympics. I expect a big year from Giroux, who is one of the most entertaining players in the league to watch.

They’ll score alot, but they’ll give up alot of goals. In this division, that’s a recipe for trouble. I think the Flyers will be in the mix for a playoff spot, but come up just short. Fifth in Metropolitan.

Must-Follow Flyers Twitter Account
Follow Scott Hartnell and enjoy his special brand of self-deprecation. Just do it.

I am Ryan Thomas, and these previews are only gonna get shorter. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because I could use the followers.

The Weekly Six-Pack, Aug. 2

In Baseball, Football, Hockey on August 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm
Today’s post starts off with a couple of different things. First, we are welcoming a new member to the site as a contributer in my good friend Kevin Pomazal. He’s a  die-hard Flyers, Packers and Cubs fan, which could be enough for everyone to hate him off the bat (he won’t care if you do anyway). The two of us are going to attempt to post some of our discussions regarding whatever the hell we come up with. So it could be anything from hockey to music, which is perfect and hopefully entertaining to you.
Yes I know, his initials don’t fit in to the title of the website. Our other site contributer isn’t able to post anything due to his job. Totally understandable. A paying gig is more important than a blog that’s supposed to be recreational. But fear not Dylan, just like Nearl Crews said, “Your legacy is in tact.”
And for the one person reading this that’s a Frisky Dingo fan, you’re welcome for that reference.
Second, I have to give a big shout out to my buddy Kyle Schassburger for his new gig as studio host for IMG sports, covering Kent State football and Michigan hockey. Bro, you stuck with the broadcasting gig and you’ve earned this. You’ve come a long way from the kid that co-hosted a sports talk show with me in college as a freshman. Now if ya make it big and can get tickets to a big event, don’t be afraid to hook a brother up.
All right, the sappy stuff is out of the way. Let’s do this.
Atlantic Division Announces its Supremacy
Last week, I covered the acquisition of Rick Nash by the Rangers, giving them the high-scoring forward the team needs to add more offense for a team that struggled in the playoffs scoring. With the addition, it gives the division three teams that are the three best teams in the East and each could be playing for the Stanley Cup this coming year in Pittsburgh, the Rangers and Philadelphia. Oh yeah, they also boast a Devils team fresh off a trip to the Cup Finals and an Islanders team that should be much better this year than last. Granted, I’ve been saying this about the Isles for the last few years, and they’ve sucked.  So take that for what it’s worth.
But the top three teams should be competing for the Cup this next year, although each have a weakness. The Flyers still have Ilya Bryzgalov in net and the uncertainty of Chris Pronger’s future to worry about. Pittsburgh lacks depth on the wing and in young forwards. The Rangers have to worry about whether or not they can score enough with Marian Gaborik out with shoulder surgery.
Despite the slight weaknesses, each team is going to be just fine in the regular season. The Flyers and Penguins can light up the scoreboard with what might be the three best centers in the world today (Crosby, Malkin and Giroux), and the Rangers are a defensive juggernaut that are always in games because of their back end.
So take no offense with the weaknesses listed people. One of your teams should represent the East come next June in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Patrick Kane, Professional Lightning Rod for Bad Behavior
Yes, I know this is dated. It’s a slow time for sports news, so I’m pulling for stuff. To say Patrick Kane’s offseasons have been loaded with controversy in the last few years is a bit of an understatement. I don’t need to go over what he’s done in the past, but this year’s incident at a party in Madison, Wisconsin seemed to be a little different as far as a level of offense. As opposed to the Buffalo cab incident, one that he was way out of line for, I was actually amused by this news as opposed to the past.
Keep in mind, Kane is 23 years old. I would like to say that I was straight-laced when I was that age, but that would be a lie. Add in the fact that he just came off a tough season and another early playoff exit where he didn’t live up to his talent level. I understand if something like that happens, someone of that stature is expected to be pissed and hard at work to get ready for the next season.
At the same time, a chance to cut loose should be earned by someone that’s busting their chops for 11 months of the year in an extremely demanding sport. Sure, he may have acted like a total bag (based on the articles I’ve read) and fell victim to some pictures that leaked on social media sights. It’s 2012, that kind of thing happens to everyone. But I’m not going to get as wrapped up in this as others have. Nor do I think you should.
NHL Dress Code Needs to Change Again
Now you KNOW it’s a slow time when I’m busting out the old debate of home colors vs. home whites as far as jerseys go. To make it even worse, this came to me as I was playing NHL 12. My original idea for this came when I scored against Dallas, who was wearing their black jerseys, by scoring on the goalie that was screened by his own defenseman. How obviously, it’s difficult to see through a human. I get that. But it got me thinking how much tougher it might be for a goalie if he’s trying to pick up a puck and someone’s loose jersey gets in the way for a team wearing black.
Nine teams in the league have a black sweater, and the only two I’m all right with seeing that are the Kings and the Suc- I mean Ducks. Dallas’ bother me the most because I liked their old green sweaters, and their current home selection is just boring. Had to be the last design the Reebok guys put together and they must have been on their 15th pot of coffee when doing so. Get rid of them or at least make them a little more vibrant. Watching a Dallas/LA game in Dallas must be like watching it on a TV that required you to get up to change the channel. Make it stop.
On the flip side, I’m all for bringing back the home white jerseys. It gives the home fans a chance to see different colors each night and to be honest, it just feels right. Seeing the Leafs, Red Wings, Blackhawks etc. in their barn wearing their classic white sweaters is a beautiful thing. And I’ve missed it ever since the change started back in 2003. I can only hope this changes down the line.
Cubs Trade Deadline Finally Brings in New Blood
So the trade deadline is gone and the Cubs did what I expected in unloading some of their current roster players to contenders. We all knew it was coming, but I can’t help but feel a little let down. Yes, they got some nice pieces that could make an impact in the bullpen down the road. But having Ryan Dempster block a trade to the Braves for one of their top prospects was a bummer. But I’m a firm believer in what Theo Epstien is doing with this team. Yes, the team is going to be bad for the rest of this year and probably the next few. But it’s not like it wasn’t expected and for anyone that was heartbroken and upset about the deals for Dempster, Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm, keep in mind what the ultimate goal is. A great breakdown of the players the Cubs got in return was posted by my good friend Chad Ruter and can be found here. It’s worth a read from one of the smartest sports fans I’ve ever come in contact with.
ESPN and Pop Radio Might as well be One in the Same
I can’t take it anymore. I used to be able to sit down and enjoy the hour I would spend each night getting caught up on the day’s news by watching SportsCenter. But watching it now makes me want to shove knitting needles in my eyes. I understand that the job for television execs is to get more viewers to their brand to make more money. But listen, ESPN, devoting 45 minutes of a telecast to the New York Jets camp and Tim Tebow coverage is insanity. And if it’s not about that, then it’s all about Peyton Manning and the Broncos or Michael Phelps and Ryan Locthe. Sure, the occasional baseball coverage will get mixed in, but once the NBA season ended, all the focus shifted to the NFL. Which, keep in mind, is something that doesn’t start for almost two more months. It’s like turning on the radio and knowing what you’re going to hear each and every day. The New York Jets might as well be sports current version of “Call Me Maybe.”
The point is, feel free to mix in something else. The product may just be more interesting to someone that’s wants to know about how their team is doing in the baseball playoff race. Or if you want to stick with the NFL, how about focusing on some of the other 30 teams and how their training camps are going?
Now I’m done. I’ll jump off my soapbox, but keep it close by just in case.
Umpire in Florida Loses his Mind
If any of you have ever been an umpire at any level of baseball or softball, you know that it’s a thankless job and players, coaches and fans will take any chance to let you know how bad of a job you’re doing. It develops character and thick skin for most people that put on the mask. But what happened in Daytona last night during a Daytona Cubs has officially blown my mind when it comes to an umpire that needs to quit taking himself so seriously.
In case you missed it, the full information on the incident is here. The umpire tossed the Cubs’ music guy for playing “Three Blind Mice” after a blown call. How an umpire can toss someone in the crowd, let alone the press box, is beyond me. Especially if there’s no profanity involved.
My point is that this guy needs to take a step back and realize that it’s all in good fun. Any umpire that makes the game about himself so that we know his name is in the job for the wrong reason.
That’s all for this week’s session. Hopefully something interesting in the hockey world happens between now and next week so I’m not talking about the jersey situation again.
Until then.