Monday, December 6, 2010

Chris Pronger: Master of his Domain

Chris Pronger makes everyone around him better.

In two seasons before Pronger joined the Flyers, his defensive partner Matt Carle had a few up-and-down years. In his first year with the Flyers, Carle had four goals and 20 assists and was  +2. In the year before that with both the Sharks and Lightning, Carle had a total of three goals and 13 assists and was a -7.

But once he got paired with the tree trunk of a player in Pronger, Carle's statistics shot up. Last season, Carle had six goals and 29 assists and was a career-best +19. And as of today, Carle is on pace for 31 points and a +30. These kind of improvements don't simply come with working harder in the weight room. It's all about chemistry and trust.

When Matt Carle finds himself in a sticky situation on the ice, he knows he has Pronger to back him up to get out of it. If he needs to get rid of the puck, he knows he has Pronger to bail him out. If Carle makes a risky play on offense, he knows he can because he has Pronger back on D to give him support. Pronger not only has confidence in himself, but he breeds confidence in other players on the ice, and that;s something very few players are able to do.

Even coming off of off-season knee surgery, Pronger still has the ability to settle down every play on the ice. He makes sure that nothing get's out of hand, he slows down the play of defense and is more like a quarterback directing traffic than an NHL defenseman.

 Whether it be screening the goalie (legally or illegally) or mouthing off to the refs to make sure they know they got the call wrong and better not get it wrong again, Chris Pronger is the backbone of this Flyers team and gives them their on-ice (and off-ice) swagger.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- December 5th, 2010

Click on the title link above to listen to the December 5th broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Simply Put: Don't Resign Carter

After Jeff Carter's second career hat-trick Thursday night there are going to be people who say how great he is and how the Flyers need to resign him to a long-term contract as soon as possible.

Not true.

Right now, the Flyers have five centers on the team. Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Blair Betts and Jeff Carter. Each player has a defined role. Danny Briere goes with Ville Leino (who the Flyers need to resign as well) and Scott Hartnell. Claude Giroux and Mike Richards can center any of the top three lines and be productive and Blair Betts plays his role on the fourth line and the penalty kill.

There's no place for Jeff Carter to center on this team. Carter can't go on the fourth line to replace Blair Betts because, well let's face it, Carter can't play on the fourth line. Carter can't replace Richards (signed through 2018/19), Giroux (just signed a three year contract extension) or Briere (signed through 2014/15).

Well, Carter could play out of position on the wing I suppose. Aside from the fact that his stats are much lower when he plays the wing, the Flyers could fit him in.

But how could they fit him in salary cap-speaking? The Flyers already have $52,313,096 committed to 17 players in 2011-12 after the Claude Giroux signing. With the salary cap at $59.4 million, that leaves the Flyers with slightly over $7 million to spend on players to fill out the roster. That doesn't leave much room to sign Leino, Carter and other players to fill out the team. Is Carter worth it?

Over the past three seasons, Carter has gone from 46 goals and 84 points in 2008, to 33 goals in 2009 and 61 points, to before his hat-trick yesterday, which would throw off his predictions, was on pace for 27 goals and 59 points in 2010. His statistics have slowly gone down and his errant shots that completely miss the goal have gone way up.

Carter is taking shots simply for the sake of taking shots. He'll skate in on the wing and shoot the puck before he gets to the circle. He doesn't look for the pass or to make a play, he just looks to hit top-shelf and more often than not, misses it. And when Carter does find the back of the net most of the time it's a direct result of a great play or a hard-work play from another player, and not from Carter.

Signing Claude Giroux to an extension was the best signing the Flyers have made in a while but if the Flyers resign Jeff Carter to a long term deal, it may rival the Jody Shelley acquisition. Carter makes $5.5 million per year already, and there's no telling how much Philadelphia may overpay for him now.

I'm not saying the Flyers should trade Jeff Carter yet, especially since the Flyers are 7-0-1 in their last eight games. You can't mess with that kind of play. The Flyers may want to wait until the end of the season and get some compensatory draft picks for the Flyers center. But if somehow the Flyers find themselves in the midst of an extended losing streak sometime before the trade deadline, I say send Carter out of town.

Hopefully for the Flyers sake, that doesn't happen and they roll on into the playoffs on the back of Carter. But I just don't see Jeff Carter carrying anybody right now, even after his three goals yesterday.

The Flyers resigned Jeff Carter to an 11-year, $58 million deal. Crap.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Saving Mr. Initials

They couldn't send him down could they?

Well it's official, the Flyers sent down Eric Wellwood today instead of Andreas Nodl or the 2007 second overall pick, James van Riemsdyk.

Before anyone gets into the JVR situation, I should mention that Wellwood will be back with the Flyers. It may not be tomorrow, next week or next month, but believe me, the Flyers saw enough out of him to realize he has the potential to be a pretty good NHL hockey player. Wellwood will return.

But with the "demotion" of Wellwood, that means Mr. van Riemsdyk is still with the big club, but as of now, is still a health scratch with the team. JVR's 0 goals and 4 assists put him in 14th place on the team in points behind such snipers as Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. Aside from Jody Shelley, van Riemsdyk is the only offenseman on the team with at least four games played who doesn't have a goal.

Why wouldn't Peter Laviolette scratch him? The only other player on the Flyers who has given less to this team is Jody Shelley. But at least Shelley's playing a grinding role on the fourth line with Dan Carcillo and Blair Betts. The only thing JVR has done all season is turn the puck over and show that either he or the weight scale lied about him working out this summer.

A few games ago Laviolette scratched Nikolay Zherdev because of his lack of production and negative attitude towards playing time. And when Zherdev returned to the lineup he looked rejuvenated and his play has gotten progressively better since he came back. Zherdev has two goals, 11 shots and is a +2 in four games since his two game absence. It's not earth-shattering, but it's better than his two goals, 0 assists and a -1 in nine games before the wake-up call.

So maybe the time off will help out the Flyers' youngster. It certainly helped Zherdev. And especially since the Flyers are going on their annual "team bonding" trip, the time off could help van Riemsdyk relax a bit and come back with a goal in mind (and on the ice).

But it's not just the time off that's going to make JVR better. He needs to realize what his role is on the ice. He needs to stop trying to do too much. It seems as if he's trying to create, develop and finish a play every shift he has. He needs to play his part on the ice. Take a pass, make a pass, take a hit, deliver a hit and just get off the ice. He needs to be doing more of this and less of this.

Be smart on the ice Riemer, get to the net, grind it out, plant yourself in front of the goalie and good things will happen. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Rick Nash.

And James van Riemsdyk won't be either.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- November 7th

Click on the title link above to listen to the November 7th broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Think with your Wood, not with your Nodl

It has been reported that Flyers winger Andreas Nodl is back skating with the team coming off of his injury and Eric Wellwood has been sent back down to the Phantoms.

Has Peter Laviolette not been watching these players in the past few weeks?

Eric Wellwood has been showing a ton of intensity on the ice and he brings very high energy level every shift. He's quick and has the ability to throw his body around. And looking at the way he skates and plays the game, it looks like he has the ability to put the puck in the net.

Nodl on the other hand has the nickname Andreas "NoGoal" for a reason. He's a bigger player than Wellwood (he's 6'1", 196 compared to Wellwood who's 5'11", 180), but plays like he's 5'5", 125. He doesn't use what size he has to his advantage. Nodl is not a scorer. Plain and simple. In his two goals this year, one of them is an empty netter and the other came off a nice 2-on-1 feed from James van Riemsdyk.

The Flyers know what Andreas Nodl has. They know what he can bring, they know what his limitations are and how much skill he has.

Eric Wellwood on the other hand has unrealized potential and a has the ability to play on both the penalty kill AND the power play.He plays much bigger than he actually is and unlike Nodl, he has a lot of talent.

Maybe Laviolette sent Wellwood down because he wanted him to get more experience in the AHL. And if that's the case, I think Wellwood is going to be back with the Flyers sooner rather than later.

Hopefully to replace a healthy Andreas Nodl this time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shelley Proving to be an ASSet

When the Flyers announced the signing of Jody Shelley back in July, it was basically a forgone conclusion that Shelley was to be the new tough guy on the Flyers. The new Donald Brashear. A Riley Cote who actually wins fights.

Well at $1.1 million for three years, Shelley better be beating the opposition senseless and taking out the other team's most important players or at least keep them off the ice when he's on it.

But that's not exactly what has happened so far this season. Ever heard of Deryk Engelland? Unless you're a serious Penguins fan I doubt it and even if you have, I doubt you consider him a legitimate fighter. Well take a look at what he did to our dear Jody Shelley last Friday in Pittsburgh.

According to the preeminent NHL fighter's dreamland,, 97.2% of people said that Engelland, won the fight. And after watching that beat down, it's impossible to disagree.

Once again, Jody Shelly is making $1.1 million per year to "bring his talents to South Philly." He's making more than Sean O'Donnell ($1 million), Brian Boucher ($925,000), Oskars Bartulis ($600,000), Sergei Bobrovsky ($900,000), Blair Betts ($700,000), Darroll Powe ($725,000), Andreas Nodl ($735,000), and here's where it gets interesting...James van Riemsdyk ($875,000), Dan Carcillo ($1.075 million), Ville Leino ($825,000) and Claude Giroux ($765,000).

Jody Shelley is making more bank than the Flyers' leading scorer (Giroux) and second leading scorer (Leino), cashing more checks than a quarter of the Flyers' blue line and seeing more bills than both the Flyers' netminders.

The NHL's leading bruisers with at least four fights on the season are Zenon Konopka ($600,000), Tim Jackman ($550,000), Mike Brown ($575,000), Brandon Purst ($800,000), Deryk Engelland ($500,000) and Ryan Clowe ($3.5 million).

Aside from Clowe who actually scores on occasion and averages 16:42 ice time per game, none of these so-called enforcers have a cap hit of more than $800,000/year. Most teams realize a fighter shouldn't be making more than a million per.

Shelley averages 5:01 time on ice per game. That means if you assume that Shelley plays every game from now until the rest of the season, and put his salary at a per game level, Shelley makes around $2,683 every minute he's on the ice getting his face pummeled. Compare that to Matt Carle who, if you did the same calculation with his 20:02 TOI, makes $2,096 per minute on ice. Shelley makes more per minute for his services on the ice than does a guy on the Flyers' top defensive line.

“I think our fans are going to take to Jody Shelley just the way they took to Dan Carcillo,” Paul Holmgren said after the Flyers signed him in July.

"We feel we got a guy who can play a role for our team we haven’t had in quite some time and play a third or fourth line, he’s a bigger body, and I’m talking about Jody Shelley, so I’m very happy with what we did today."

Dan Carcillo has the ability to score, Shelley does not. Dan Carcillo has the ability to win fights, Shelley just got his face wrecked by Deryk Engelland.

Take it as you will, but the signing of Jody Shelley is the worst signing in recent Flyers history. Especially when he keeps better players off the team with his enormous cap hit.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- October 31st

Click on the title link above to listen to the October 31st broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Return

Back from the hiatus of the most disappointing playoff run in Phillies and possibly Philadelphia postseason history. I was enthralled with Phillies all summer, they consumed my life.

And now it's all over.

Back to reality. Back to Silly Ville, broken sticks and stolen pucks. Back to the Flyers.

With the Flyers sitting at 3-3-1 through the first seven games, the perfect word to describe their season so far is probably..."ehh."

There's no reason to panic so far and there's little reason to be overly excited. Here's a little plus/minus of how I rank the Flyers season so far.

Oct. 7 Flyers 3 @ Penguins 2 --> +2
Oct. 9 Flyers 1 @ Blues 2 --> E
Oct. 11 Avalanche 2 @ Flyers 4 --> +1
Oct. 14 Lightning 3 @ Flyers 2 --> -2
Oct. 16 Penguins 5 @ Flyers 1 --> -3
Oct. 21 Ducks 3 @ Flyers 2 --> -1
Oct. 23 Maple Leafs 2 @ Flyers 5 --> +2

So far on the season the Flyers are a -1, which is kind of a disappointment since they had a five-game homestand and only went 2-3-0 over that span.

Much of the Flyers' early season struggles can be pinned on their lack of production on the power play. The Flyers are 24th in the league with the man-advantage, sitting at 9.1%. A number like that is obviously not going to cut it in this league, and with the talent of this team, it's sure to increase.

But how to make that abysmal number go up? Early on in the season coach Peter Laviolette has been trying a number of different players on the power play. He's trying to find the best groups of players on the PP, and I guess there wasn't enough time in the preseason to work that out so he's still doing it seven games into the season. But once he finds that group who gels together the best, the man-advantage will start clicking on all cylinders. It's only a matter of time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- October 24th

Click on the title link above to listen to the October 24th broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Final Postseason Predictions

Eastern Conference
#1 x - Washington Capitals
#2 x - Pittsburgh Penguins
#3 Philadelphia Flyers
#4 x - Buffalo Sabres
#5 New Jersey Devils
#6 Boston Bruins
#7 Tampa Bay Lightning
#8 Montreal Canadiens           
#9 Toronto Maple Leafs
#10 New York Rangers
#11 Atlanta Thrashers
#12 Carolina Hurricanes
#13 Ottawa Senators
#14 Florida Panthers
#15 New York Islanders

Western Conference
#1 x - Vancouver Canucks
#2 x - San Jose Sharks
#3 x- Detroit Red Wings 
#4 Los Angeles Kings
#5 St. Louis Blues
#6 Chicago Blackhawks
#7 Nashville Predators
#8 Calgary Flames                     
#9 Colorado Avalanche
#10 Phoenix Coyotes
#11 Minnesota Wild
#12 Anaheim Ducks
#13 Columbus Blue Jackets
#14 Dallas Stars
#15 Edmonton Oilers

x - Division winner
These are the rankings of the conference teams from first to worst. The division winners are automatically No.'s one, two and three in the conference come playoff time.
Stanley Cup Prediction:
Philadelphia Flyers over Vancouver Canucks

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Atlantic Division Predictions

New Jersey Devils
The Good: Somehow Martin Brodeur can still make saves even after drinking his doctor recommended amount of prune juice.
The Bad: Kovalchuk hasn't yet learned the word "pass" in English.
Look for: The Devils only dressing 11 men on offense

New York Islanders
The Good: They still have the "God among men" Jon Sim.
The Bad: Sill the worst team in the Atlantic Division
Look for: Rick DePietro's over/under of games played this season...5.

New York Rangers
The Good: Lost out on a playoff spot by one point last season and got better over the offseason, bodes well for the Rags.
The Bad: Probably the most average team in the league, and average teams generally don't make the postseason.
Look for: Martin Biron's eyes, because they'll be looking for you.

Philadelphia Flyers
The Good: Danny Briere and Claude Giroux both poised for breakout seasons with Philadelphia.
The Bad: Jeff Carter shoots whenever he feels like it and Mike Richards is fat.
Look for: Ville Leino to become a household name

Pittsburgh Penguins
The Good: Still have two of the best in the league--Crosby and Malkin.
The Bad: Lost some serious leadership and experience in Guerin and Fedotenko
Look for: Aaron Asham and Matt Cooke to have the first ever teammate-on-teammate on-ice fight.

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins
#2 Philadelphia Flyers
#3 New Jersey Devils
#4 New York Rangers
#5 New York Islanders

Friday, October 8, 2010

Central Division Predictions

Chicago Blackhawks
The Good: See: 2009/10 season.
The Bad: See: 2010/11 season.
Look for: Every 12-year-old to play with them in NHL11


Columbus Blue Jackets
The Good: They still have Rick Nash.
The Bad: The only BJs most men will use the word "terrible" to describe.
Look for: The rumors of the Jackets leaving Columbus to intensify

Detroit Red Wings
The Good: A guarantee they'll be in the top-5 of the Western Conference, no matter who they have on the ice.
The Bad: Nicklas Lindstrom won't be great forever. Right?
Look for: The Wings to regain their position atop the Central Division.

Nashville Predators
The Good: Have one of the best defensemen in the league with the best shot in all of hockey--Shea Weber.
The Bad: Nashville has one of the most exciting teams in the NHL to watch, yet no one in Nashville watches.
Look for: The Preds to miss Jason Arnott more than they thought they would.
St. Louis Blues
The Good: Jaroslav Halak will  make an already good Blues team even better.
The Bad: Tough to find something except for they're in a very tough Western Conference division.
Look for: Hockey's triumphant return to the Gateway to the West.

#1 Detroit Red Wings
#2 St. Louis Blues
#3 Chicago Blackhawks
#4 Nashville Predators
#5 Columbus Blue Jackets

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Northeast Division Predictions

Boston Bruins
The Good: Second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft Tyler Seguin. 108 goals in 175 games in the OHL and GTHL. Yea, this guy's pretty good.
The Bad: Now they know what the Yankees felt like. Remember the timeout.
Look for: "All senior citizens should have Life Alert." A message from Mark Recchi.

Buffalo Sabres
The Good: They still have Jesus Christ reincarnate Ryan Miller in net.
The Bad: Sadly, you need to score more than zero goals to win a hockey game, even with Miller on your team.
Look for: One of the Sabres top six forwards to be on LTIR by the end of the month.

Montreal Canadiens
The Good: Last postseason was no fluke. Good thing they had Halak in net though.
The Bad: Wait, they traded Halak to St Louis? The Price is wrong, Bobby!
Look for: The Habs faithful to get frustrated with newly-named captain Brian Gionta before the end of the calendar year.

Ottawa Senators
The Good: Jason Spezza is still on the team. And I guess now so is Carrie Underwood.
The Bad: Sergei Gonchar no longer gives a shit.
Look for: The Sens to see what's lurking in the Northeast Division's cellar.

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Good: Dion Phaneuf will make other players's mommys cry.
The Bad: The Leafs power play will make Toronto fans cry.
Look for: The Leafs to maybe, possibly, perhaps return to the playoffs for the first time since before the lockout.

#1 Buffalo Sabres
#2 Boston Bruins
#3 Montreal Canadiens
#4 Toronto Maple Leafs
#5 Ottawa Senators

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pacific Division Predictions

Anaheim Ducks
The Good: Adam Banks's wrist is feeling much, much better.
The Bad: Russ Tyler isn't hanging out in the LA projects for the Ducks to sign.
Look for: Some key saves at huge moments from Goldberg, but if he slips, Julie "The Cat" Gaffney is waiting in the wings

Dallas Stars
The Good: I'm thinking, I'm thinking. Just give me a minute...
The Bad: Could be their worst season since moving to Dallas
Look for: Mike Modano to finish his career as a Sta...nevermind.

Los Angeles Kings
The Good: Have one of, if not the best young defensemen in the league--Drew Doughty
The Bad: Missed out on the Ilya Kovalchuk and Simon Gagne sweepstakes and traded the great Randy Jones. Big Mistake. HUGE.
Look for: Terry Murray to lead the Kings into the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002.

Phoenix Coyotes
The Good: The Yotes are in Phoenix for at least another year! Hooray!
The Bad: Last year may have been a fluke.
Look for: Ilya Bryzgalov to compete once again for the Vezina Trophy

San Jose Sharks
The Good: Will probably be first in the West once again
The Bad: Still don't have what it takes to win a Stanley Cup
Look for: The Sharks to say, "Shoot. Evgeni Nabokov was pretty darn good. And wow, Antti Neimi sucks."

#1 San Jose Sharks
#2 Los Angeles Kings
#3 Phoenix Coyotes
#4 Anaheim Ducks
#5 Dallas Stars

Monday, October 4, 2010

Southeast Division Predictions

Atlanta Thrashers
The Good: Just five points shy of a playoff spot last season.
The Bad: They may have more fans in their arena than the Atlanta Braves did.
Look for: Dustin Byfuglien to realize he's not a very good offenseman (or defenseman. Whatever he's listed as)

Carolina Hurricanes
The Good: 18-year-old Jeff Skinner scored 50 goals with the Kitchener Rangers last season (Mike Richards career high with Kitchener? 36 goals).
The Bad: Rod Brind'Amour is no longer in Raleigh to spread l'amour.
Look for: Rex Ryan to keep his Flyers jersey on this time

Florida Panthers 
The Good: David Booth is still alive.
The Bad: They're the second best NHL team in Florida. Why Florida has two NHL teams is unanswerable.
Look for: Great giveaways! Free beer for underage kids and every fan in the stands gets a game-used jersey from that night's game

Tampa Bay Lightning
The Good: They got rid of two defenders in Andrej Meszaros and Matt Walker and got proven-scorer Simon Gagne.
The Bad: They're the best team in FLORIDA.
Look for: A great offense with Gagne, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos and dare I say it Steve Downie, but very little skill defensively.

Washington Capitals
The Good: They get to play in the Southeast division.
The Bad: Still not built to win in the playoffs.
Look for: Alex Ovechkin's Russian profanity in "24/7 Penguins/Capitals"

#1 Washington Capitals
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning
#3 Atlanta Thrashers
#4 Carolina Hurricanes
#5 Florida Panthers

Guerin Released

In a conference call this afternoon Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced that Bill Guerin had been released from his tryout contract and will obviously not be playing in Philadelphia this season. Predictions are that Andreas Nodl will take Guerin's supposed spot on the roster.

Paul Holmgren said dollars weren't a factor in Guerin's departure. "We just didn't see him helping us," Holmgren said. "It had nothing to do with salary. If we felt he could have helped, we would have done something."

So what Holmgren is saying here is that the Flyers could have fit Guerin under the salary cap without a problem. It was more of the fact that the 39-year-old couldn't help a Flyers team who was within a game of winning the Stanley Cup last year. Philadelphia would much rather have 23-year-old Andreas Nodl on the team; a guy who in 48 career NHL games has an astonishing one goal and five points. He did score 18 goals in 40 games twice with St. Cloud State of the WCHA, so that's good to know.

The fact that Guerin has scored 20+ goals in four straight seasons and 10 out of the last 11 and the Flyers decided he couldn't help them is mind-boggling. Guerin could have been a tremendous addition to the Flyers' power play too, as opposed to Nodl who will see primarily 4th line minutes and not even get a sniff of special teams play.

There are people who said Guerin did nothing in the preseason to show he deserved a place on this team. Really? What did Chris Pronger do this preseason to show he deserved a spot on the team? Nothing. He didn't play. But Pronger has showed his worth for an entire career and throughout the 2009/2010 season, right? Well so did Bill Guerin. Some may forget, but he was the piece that brought the Penguins the Stanley Cup in 2009 after they lost it the previous season.

I hope the Flyers know something I don't here because from what I have seen so far, this releasing makes little sense. Guerin was very good on a terrible Islanders team, and has won two Cups. The guy knows how to play.

Bobrovsky named the Flyers' No. 2
With the Flyers sending Johan Backlund down to the Phantoms, this means rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky will be the backup to Brian Boucher in the NHL.

Now I already posted as to why Bobrovsky should spend an entire season in the AHL so I won't rehash that. In the conference call Holmgren said, "There's a chance he plays one of the first two games. I think he's played good."

I just feel that with Sergei up with the big club he won't get as many games to get used to the NHL-sized rink and NHL-skilled players. In the AHL he could play everyday and if it takes him time to warm up to the smaller rink, then so be it. Who cares if the Phantoms lose (especially now that they're no longer in Philadelphia). But when Bobrovsky has a bad game with the Flyers, it all gets magnified. A loss in the NHL is much bigger than in the AHL.

We'll have to wait and see how long Michael Leighton is out before we see how long Bobrovsky is up with the Flyers. I just hope that when Leighton does come back it is Sergei who is sent down for the added experience in the minors, not Boucher.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- October 3rd

Click on the title link above to listen to the October 3rd broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Northwest Division Predictions

Vancouver Canucks
The Good: Have the league's Hart Trophy winner on their team (wait, which on of them is the MVP? Daniel? Henrik? Which one is which? It's Henrik, right?...No?)
The Bad: Dan Hamhuis. His boyfriend had a bad relationship with a guy from out East, wouldn't let him play in Philly or Pitt.
Look for: The only pair of twins without breasts that men like to watch get it on (...the ice)

Calgary Flames
The Good: Still have the greatest player...Iginla's good. That's what I'm saying. Iginla is very good.
The Bad: Their Heritage Classic jerseys...what in the name of all that is holy! They lost Dion Phaneuf to the Leafs too. Who was the best player they got back? Stajan? White? Hagman?
Look for: A return to the postseason

Edmonton Oilers
The Good: Could battle for a playoff spot come March...if all the other teams in the West drop dead by mid-October. And even then it could go either way.
The Bad: I can't count that high.
Look for: Taylor Hall's progression

Colorado Avalanche
The Good: Matt "The Douchebag" Duchene improves on a great rookie campaign.
The Bad: Overachieved last year, may not see much improvement points wise.
Look for: A great team to watch. Fun, exciting, young...everything Lindsay Lohan used to be.

Minnesota Wild
The Good: You get to say "Cal Clutterbuck" every single time you watch a game. How much fun is that to say...Clutter-Buck, Clut-Ter-Buck...
The Bad: They have the wrong Niklas Backstrom.
Look for: Gordon Bombay's triumphant return to the pros.

#1 Vancouver Canucks
#2 Calgary Flames
#3 Colorado Avalanche
#4 Minnesota Wild
#5 Edmonton Oilers

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Leights Out & Lappy Feeling Wacky

Leights Out
Well what many had suspected has been confirmed.

When Paul Holmgren and Peter Laviolette gave the so-called prognosis on Michael Leighton of "He'll be out until Thursday," nearly every Flyers beat writer as well as me believed there was more to this injury that the Flyers originally led on.

It's nearly the same situation with how the Flyers disclosed the Ray Emery. Here's an article from Broad Street Hockey comparing the two.

They say Leighton is out a month, but it's up for debate as to how long that month ends up being. So right now, the Flyers goaltenders are Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky with Johan Backlund's recovery from offseason surgery just about over. Backlund may start one of the Flyers' preseason games this weekend.

So with the limited golies on the Flyers roster, should they pursue another man between the pipes? Well considering the Flyers cap situation and the lack of inexpensive goalies on the market, that's really not an option. Any netminder available (Manny Legace and José Théodore are a few names that pop up) will either be too expensive or too, well, crappy.

So by the time the season starts, the Flyers goalie situation should go like this: Boucher the starter, Backlund the backup and Bobrovsky starter with the Phantoms.

Obviously there will be people who want Bobrovsky to be the starter with the big club. But with the incredible amount of buzz surrounding Bobrovsky, the Flyers would be crazy to start him in the pros this early. He has played a total of five periods in an NHL-sized rink and has never played more than 40 games in a season. If the Flyers want Bobrovsky to be as good as they think he's going to be, they're going to give him all the work he needs down in the AHL for a season.

Lappy Feeling Wacky 
And then there's the Laperriere injury.

What can you really say, the guy had concussion symptoms and wanted to play in the Finals so bad that he decided to play through them to help his team win.

It's rarely understated how important Laperriere is to the Flyers penalty kill, but this does make a little more room for other players to make the Flyers roster.

Holmgren and Laviolette won't say it but this probably means Guerin will most definitely be on the team and Darroll Powe will take Laperriere's spot on the 4th line and more importantly, on the penalty kill.

I just hope this isn't a Keith Primeau-type situation, but we'll have to wait to find out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- September 26th

Click on the title link above to listen to the September 26th broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Zesty Salsa Line Combos

After what must have seemed like an endless weekend for Flyers veterans, their long-awaited day has finally arrived.

The first preseason game.

Well maybe they haven't been awaiting this day as much as I have, but it is here nonetheless. And assuming that The Comcast Network won't be blacked out in State College, I will be keeping an eye on this game when I can (the Phillies game's on at this moment Phils v. Braves is a little more important). But before I give reaction to who looks good in the preseason, who will make the team and who looks like they should be playing for the Charlestown Chiefs, I want to give my possible line combinations for opening night Oct. 7 in Pittsburgh.

These may be far from what Peter Laviolette has out on the ice for the first period, but I think these trios will produce the most chemistry and be the most successful. And as an aside, I'm making these predictions assuming Blair Betts, Ville Leino and Chris Pronger will all be 100% healthy by game one.

Carter - Richards - Zherdev
With this amount of offensive talent on one line, it should be easy for each player to put up at least 25+ goals and give 50+ assists to Richards at center. But all of that depends on how well Zherdev adapts to playing in the NHL again and if the line can create good enough chemistry with someone who apparently doesn't fully grasp the English language. Another problem with this line may be in the defensive zone, but with the Captain at center, he should make sure the other two don't get too far out of position.

Hartnell - Briere - Leino
I think (or at least I hope) this line will have absolutely no problem producing chemistry this season. They were unstoppable at times in the playoffs and are the only "for sure" line going into the season. I think Briere thrives at center and will put up close to playoff-type numbers in the regular season.

van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Guerin
With Giroux at his natural position at center, this line has the potential to be throw-up-in-your-mouth nasty. Guerin WILL make this team, force someone out of a starting job and get 20+ goals. JVR and Giroux can only get better with a veteran such as Billy-G as a linemate. van Riemsdyk bulked up in the off-season and according to Tim Panaccio, looks faster than ever on the ice as well. If this line does what I think it's capable of doing, they could see an even larger chunk of ice time come December.

Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere
Well if you add up all the players and take a look at this last line, you can see which players won't be dressing too often. I'd rather the Flyers spent the $3.3 million ($1.1 per) on a new parking space for Steve Coates than on Jody Shelley. He sucks and will be an even more expensive Riley Cote. Darroll Powe is a great fourth line player and I'm still not counting him out of that fourth line, left wing position. He may split starting games with Dan Carcillo when Laviolette tires of his antics. It's a shame both ways here because I think Carcillo has the potential and the skill set to score 20 goals in a season, and Powe is a tremendous PK man when Laperriere and/or Betts need a breather.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter -- September 19th

Click on the title link above to listen to the September 19th broadcast of Wiz Wit Jason, Joe & Porter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rookie Camp Opened Today...Jody Shelley Got Nervous

Well it's the unofficial, official start of the hockey season. Flyers rookies have made their first appearance together at the Flyers Skate Zone in Vorhees (along with some veterans too). And with the start of training camp some serious personnel questions surrounding the Flyers begin to arise.

Bill Guerin is still skating at the Skate Zone and in order to continue to skate there past Friday, he needs to sign a contract. He originally said he wanted to come to the Flyers' facilities just to skate around while he was visiting his in-laws. So either he's so strapped for cash that he's moving in with said in-laws, or he's working on getting a contract with Philadelphia before the weekend. Now I'm not aware of Guerin's financial situation, but I'm going to guess Silly Billy is still at the Flyers Skate Zone on Saturday.

There are a couple of Flyers rookies who some people think have a chance of making the roster. Forwards Mike Testwuide and Kyle Wellwood as well as defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon (who the Flyers have given attempts at making the roster before, but so far he just hasn't panned out the way they would have liked) and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (who many think will be the Flyers starting goalie in 2011/2012, not this year).

All of this should strike fear in the hearts of Players like Dan Carcillo, Darroll Powe and especially Jody Shelley. Shelly better not get a roster spot in favor of a younger, more talented forward or the more talented veteran Bill Guerin and sit for the majority of the Flyers season, like I predict he will. Shelley is already a waste of space on this team and if he inhibits a more capable player from making the club, it will be a real shame.

Look for a post this weekend on the beginning days of Flyers training camp. It's hockey season y'all. Get pumped!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Guerin-teeing a Flyers Move

Yea, that's right. He's a stache man.
We have Silly Ville (Ville Lieno) and Silly Willy (Wilson Valdez). But will the Flyers add another to the pack of Sillies in the town we call Philly? Ladies and gentlemen, the Flyers (hopefully) welcome...Silly Billy.

Former Penguin (Devil, Oiler, Bruin, Star, Blue, Shark and Islander) Bill Guerin is working out at the Flyers Skate Zone, and is hoping to receive a contract offer from Philadelphia. He was not resigned by Pittsburgh over the summer and is looking for another crack at winning his third Stanley Cup Championship. Guerin is 39 and will turn 40 in November, but if the statistics say anything, they're telling us the veteran still has some juice left in the tank.

Guerin scored 21 goals and had 45 points last season with the Pens. But he did play alongside Sidney Crosby. And playing on the same line as one of the greatest players in the game will boost anyone's stats, right? Yea, well Guerin posted 36 goals and 56 points in 06/07 with the Blues and Sharks, 23 goals and 44 points in 07/08 with the NY Islanders (yes, the even crappier team from New York), and 21 goals and 48 points in 08/09 split between the Isles and Pens. So for those of you who say Guerin is too old and can no longer produce at the game's highest level, a little bit of rethinking may be required.

Since Guerin is still only looking to get a tryout with the Orange and Black, it must mean that there hasn't been much interest in the winger. Thus he won't be demanding top dollar and considering he's a veteran, the Flyers can give him an incentive-laden contract that won't hurt the Flyers cap as much. The Flyers would be stupid not to at least give him a tryout offer right?

The only negative about adding Guerin is the fact that there isn't any place on the roster for him. The Flyers already have 13 forwards vying for a possible 12 roster spots. Good thing the Flyers signed Jody Shelley to a contract right?

So, as far as I can see it, the most logical place to put Guerin is to replace Shelley with him on the roster. But that still leaves the Flyers one man over on the 20 man roster. And the odd man out here may be either Dan Carcillo or Darroll Powe. And with the possibility of adding Guerin to the roster, it will only force Powe and Carcillo to prove that they deserve a spot on this team and that have more to bring to the club than the aging veteran.

I think the Flyers will offer Guerin a tryout contract and I think he and his 20+ goals deserve a spot on this matter whose spot he takes (unless it's Carcillo's. Please don't let it be Danny.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Predictions and "Grade-ictions" Series (The Noobs)

New winger, Nikolai Zherdev. Yep, he's on the Flyers.
Jody Shelley
Because I think this was one of the worst signings in recent Flyers history, I'm going to include his games played as well as point production predictions. Shelley will suck. Plain and simple. You thought Riley Cote was a waste? Ha! Just wait for this guy.
2010/2011 Predictions: 31GP 0G 2A -4

Nikolay Zherdev
I really can't decide what the hell this Cosmonaut's going to do this year. He was great at times with the Rangers and Blue Jackets, there's no doubt about that. But the fact that the Flyers don't have another Russian on the team to hang with Zherdev (which is apparently what these young Russian players need in order to thrive) scares me a little. If he did, like he says he did, improve his play in the defensive zone, he could be huge. Holmgren took another risk on a player from Russia again this year (Ray Emery), and hopefully it ends better than the last.
2010/2011 Predictions: 24G 36A -9

Andrej Meszaros
Which Andrej Meszaros will appear this year? Will it be the 39, 35 and 36 point man with the Senators? Or the 16 and 17 point man with the Lightning? Could it have possibly been the fact that he was playing on a poor defensive team in Tampa that his stats were so down? Or could his first few years in the league been a fluke? Do I have any idea? Why is this entire player preview written with questions? Who knows?
2010/2011 Predictions: 9G 22A +14
Sean O'Donnell
Probably my favorite Flyers signing of the offseason. He's going to be a tremendous 6th defensemen and about a million times better than whomever the Flyers threw out there last year (Ryan Parent, Lukas Krajicek, O.K. Tollefsen, Danny Syvret). And plus another veteran presence on a team never hurt anybody.
2010/2011 Predictions: 2G 12A +2

Matt Walker
Well, Matt Walker...Matt Walker, Matt Walker, Matt Walker. Referred to by many as the "bag of pucks" we got for The Departed (Simon Gagne). The highest amount of games Walker ever played in a season was 66, and the most points he has ever gotten is 14. Not expecting a lot from this guy this year. He'll most likely be the team's 7th D-man.
2010/2011 Predictions: 0G 4A -4

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Predictions and "Grade-ictions" Series

Brian Boucher
2009/2010 Regular season stats: 33GP, 9W, .899 SV%, 2.76 GAA
2010 Playoff stats: 12GP, 6W, .909 SV%, 2.47 GAA
Grade: B+

Boucher was brought back to Philadelphia for his second go around with the team to be the back-up to Ray Emery. Yea, that's right. You may have forgotten it, but Razor Ray was once the starting goalie for this team. Well, Emery went down with what now looks like a career-ending injury and Boosh was the one who came in to replace him.

When Boucher took over for Emery, the Flyers were in the midst of a 3-13-1 losing stretch. On the nights in which the offense scored, the goalies were sieves. On the nights in which the netminders would let up one goal, the offense would put up a goose egg. Nothing seemed to work for the team, and when Boosh went down with a finger injury, the Flyers were left searching for answers.

Well they got their answer (and no, it wasn't Allen Iverson). It was Michael Leighton. But then he went down with an injury and Boucher had to come back into the lineup and played the Flyers right into the playoffs on the regular season's final game. He then clearly outplayed future hall-of-famer Marty Brodeur in the conference quarterfinals en route to a 4-1 series win and everything looked good for Philadelphia.

But the semifinals series with Boston was a different story. The Flyers went down three games to none and were on the verge of extinction when in game four, Boucher went down with a double knee injury. And had Michael Leighton not come off of injury the day before game four, the Flyers most likely wouldn't have made sports history.

All-in-all it was kind of tough to grade Boosh. I pretty much added his regular season and his series against the Devils together and divided it by two. I think Boucher will get a number of starts this season, especially if Leighton struggles...if he's even on the Flyers.

2010/2011 Predictions: 20GP, 8W, .914 SV%, 2.54 GAA

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