Category Archives: NHL

What the Flyers Showed During the Playoffs

     If you were wondering where I have been for the past week it’s because I’ve been face deep in my new phone satisfying my new addiction of Words With Friends (IgotThatPANDEMIC if you want to play).  For that week the Philadelphia Flyers went from a convincing game seven win against the Buffalo Sabres to being swept by a hungrier and better Boston Bruins team. (Is there anyone playing better than them right now? If Tim Thomas keeps playing like this, Boston will be a problem.)  So where do the Flyers go from here? If I’m Paul Holmgren here’s how I’d assess it.

The Negatives:

The Goalie Situation- I understand how good of a coach Peter Laviolette has been for the Flyers, but he completely butchered the goalie rotation heading into the Playoffs.  To play your 22-year-old Sergei Bobrovsky for the entire season and then abandon him in the playoffs shows that Laviolette panicked. How else could anyone explain his decision to start Michael Leighton? (Seriously since Transformers 2, it is the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a while. If Leighton was an Autobot he’d be the twins.  They’re useless, they’re goofy, and you can’t figure out what made Michael Bay say “YES! This is a great idea!”)   It was known that the goalie was the Flyers’ biggest weakness and Laviolette helped teams exploit it.  He should’ve picked one goalie played him the entire playoffs. Laviolette’s “divinity” as a coach needs to become more realistic and Holmgren has to address his goalie situation during the off-season.

The Captain- I’ll be the first to say Mike Richards should no longer be the captain of the Flyers (my vote is for Kimmo Timonen, I’ll explain in a bit). He finished the playoffs with one goal and six assists in 11 games.  The Richards’ sympathizer says “Stats aren’t everything, look at his toughness!” If toughness is looking so lethargic and so unemotional that it was almost unwatchable then yeah, Richards is tough. He looked irregular and uncoordinated to the point where a few times I had to ask myself, “Did he just learn how to skate?” He was a far cry from the Mike Richards in 2010, when he willed his team that was a seven seed to the Stanley Cup Finals. What happened to the energy? Where is the leadership? Why hasn’t Richards’ thrown his body around like he was known for? (Picture me yelling these questions like Marlon Brando did when he was yelling, “STELLLLLA!”)

Jeff Carter and Dan Carcillo- Oh no, I just mentioned the untouchable Dan Carcillo! I’m sure someone just took off their shirt and started screaming “Who said something about Carbomb?!” First, what decent athlete has the nickname “Carbomb?” Second, Carcillo is terrible, absolutely terrible. He had 30 penalty minutes in the playoffs. If there was a specific stat for how many power-play goals were scored after a player got a penalty Carcillo would be at the top. He has nothing that can help the Flyers. He is supposed to be an enforcer, but all he does is get senseless penalties followed by his expletive-laden response to the refs. He is supposed to be an energy guy, but how can he be when he’s never on the ice? If you want to see energy guys, look at Darroll Powe and Blair Betts.  They constantly hustle and get off the ice when they’re supposed to.  They’re now a solid second unit on the penalty-kill while Carcillo sits in the box.

     This brings it to Jeff Carter who was playing solid hockey down the stretch of the season and was proving those who said he was overrated wrong (my hand’s raised).  He came in as the leading goal scorer for the Flyers and played team hockey (unlike previous years where it was so predictable that every time Carter brought the puck into the zone he was shooting).  However, in six playoff games he managed two points and sustained an injury that kept him out for five games.  It’s another year that Carter has been non-existent in the playoffs.  The Flyers don’t need a regular season monster; they need someone to come up big in the playoffs. The Flyers signed him to an 11 year contract which they don’t need either.  Package him and trade him away and save me from having a conniption. If I was Dexter, I’d have a hard time following Harry’s rules on this one. Continue reading

Advertisements

Flyers-Sabres: The Magic That is Game Seven

Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers are going up against the Buffalo Sabres in game seven for the chance to advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Facebook is abuzz with fans from both teams expressing their love for one and disdain for the other. Coverage on ESPN and other stations are increased because of the weight of the situation. Analysts are mentioned and asked for their opinions more often (specifically Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby who, when surveyed by 100 people for Most Annoying ESPN Analysts, finished first in front of Mark May and Lou Holtz.) These factors got me thinking, what makes a game seven so special?

            The obvious reason is the epitome of any playoff sports series is game seven.  Two teams battling to an even 3-3 draw that excites more than just those directly involved, whether fans or athletes.  For example, in 2010, game seven of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the two starred franchises in the NBA, drew the highest ratings in 10 years. The other obvious answer is that it is a win-or-go-home situation.  That two teams who have battled for two weeks (or three if you’re the NBA) and the only solution is a one-game playoff leaving one team with a feeling of absolute excitement and a permanent stamp on the sports world. (See the Boston Red Sox- New York Yankees 2004 ALCS.  Side note: I looooove reminding Yankees fans of this series.)  The other is left with nothing but heartbreak and a terrible taste in their mouths that causes sports talk radio shows to blow-up with messages about firing the coach and getting rid of the franchise player because “he can’t win the big game.” (Strange, the number five just popped in my head.)

            However the real beauty of game seven is engrained into us at a young age.  Think back to when you were playing wiffle-ball or baseball as a kid, it was always: bottom of the 9th, two outs, bases loaded, full count, game…seven.  Why, because it represents the highest level of competition. It represents the drama that ignites your childhood imagination because there is either advancement or defeat.  There are no other options.  Let’s face it, in any given series there is always a game or two where players from each team may have a bad night or just be nonchalant about it (like the Miami Heat- 76ers series, yeah the 76ers stole a game, but the Heat will end it on Wednesday.).  But, in a game seven there is never a dull moment.  The athletes are at their peak competitive abilities AND mentalities. Trash talk is never used more and the players are never as amped. It’s in a game seven where the best play, well, their best (if you’re not getting excited just from the thought of all of this, you have no pulse). It’s in a game seven where the legends of Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins were created and still resonate throughout all of sports

            There is no doubt that there is something special with a game seven.  It has all the tangibles above and certain unexplainable attributes that make it the greatest game for any playoff series and although Flyers fans would prefer the series be over before seven games, they can’t deny how exciting the atmosphere and game itself will be.  I wonder what Melrose would have to say about all this…

Watching the Flyers, 76ers, and Phillies the Old Way

                In the age of being able to watch TV from an Ipad, a laptop, or the classic Picture-in-Picture, watching multiple shows and sporting events simultaneously have become more common than Jennifer Anniston’s romantic comedy roles (zing).  However, what happens when you don’t have the first two and your TV’s manual doesn’t come with instructions on how to set up PIP (trust me I went through the manual three times.)? One web logger found out the hard way and was forced to watch the Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, and Phillies game with nothing but the old “Last” button.  So, while the Phillies blow it in the 12th inning, I give you my observations for the night.

                Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat Game 2- Final Score- 94-73, Heat.  The game was flipped to five times and stopped after the third quarter when the 76ers went down 23.

It comes as no surprise that the Heat are up 2-0 in a series against an overmatched 76ers team. LeBron James continues to pick them apart having scored 29 with seven rebounds and six assists as the 76ers “best player” Andre Iguodala finished with a solid five points, seven rebounds and seven assists.   Having said that, it’s hard not to notice how terribly the 76ers played. They shot 34 percent and their best player of the night was Evan Turner, who surprised everyone (even my friend Bean who texted me “It’s ridiculous man how bad they’re playing…all except Burner.” This is common practice that all Turners are known as Burner) with 15 and six. Unfortunately, that didn’t help them from getting blown out by 21, even with Dwyane Wade only scoring 14. The 76ers starters were outscored by 47.  Their only chance to win a game in this series is game 3 at home.  Don’t count on it, they’re getting swept.

                Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Final Score- 6-3, Brewers in 12.  This game was watched from Pete Orr’s pinch hit up until the 12th inning. Sorry, it’s playoff time, they take precedent.

Now before you grab your notebook and recite your latest fat joke towards Joe Blanton, just know he didn’t pitch that badly.  He only gave up two runs in seven innings, struck out four, and gave his team a chance to win (ugh, I hate that phrase).  However, their 3-4-5 hitters went 2-17 and Jimmy Rollins continues to disappoint as much as Jennifer Anniston’s romantic comedy roles (follow that link, look at her versatility or lack thereof.).  He continues to hit for home runs instead of playing “small ball” that was effective for the Phillies to start the season. The hitters can’t bear all the blame with Ryan Madson giving up his first run of the season and Kyle Kendrick walking three and giving up three runs, solidifying the Phillies loss.  The Phillies are still 10-5 and weren’t expected to win every game, but they also weren’t supposed to lose each game Blanton started so far.   The two biggest questions for the Phillies are now, “When will Rollins and Francisco click at the same time? And how long until Charlie Manuel realizes Kendrick can’t pitch in the MLB.”

                Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres Game 2- Final Score 3-2, Flyers.  With a blowout happening in Miami and the Phillies only 15 games in, this game was on the most.

The Flyers are starting to look good again after taking a 2-1 series lead. Would I say that they’re scary good like they were in the beginning of the season? No, but Brian Boucher proved he still has a little game left in him. Besides overcommitting on a rebound in the second period that led to a Nathan Gerbe goal (my father, a goalie his whole life and whose stories include the likes of Bernie Parent, started screaming at the TV about how terribly Boucher played that shot.  That’s why Philly is the greatest sports city.), he stopped 35 out of 37 shots and has to give hope to panicking fans who were unsure about their goaltending situation.  The next most impressive thing was the Flyers’ penalty kill that went 7-8 tonight with them having another 5-on-3.  Although no team wants to give up eight power-plays a night, it’s reassuring knowing they play well on defense.  The next-next most impressive thing is James van Riemsdyk, who although didn’t record a point, is finally playing like the 6’3 200 pound “Ovechkin-build” force he should’ve been since he was drafted (to clear up that Ovechkin reference, he’s just physically similar, not in terms of talent.).  These are all good signs for the Flyers who are playing behind the consistent play of Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. Expect another win in Buffalo on Wednesday and the Flyers finishing the series in Philadelphia.

Seriously though, how exciting is it that during the month of May, there are three Philadelphia teams playing? “Friends” just came on TV, I can’t make this up; the Entertainment Gods are vengeful!