Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 4:47 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Finally, the speculation and guessing can end. The Philadelphia Flyers have unveiled the jersey's they will be wearing during the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 against the New York Rangers, and you can see them in the photo above which comes via Flyers beat writer Frank Seravalli.
As you can see, the sweaters are mainly orange with black shoulders, black numbers and some black and white stripes on the sleeves.
Since the Winter Classic began back in 2007 teams have been wearing special jersey's for the game, usually going for a retro look. The Flyers look isn't a bad one, but of all the special jersey's we've seen in the past I'm still a fan of the ones worn by Chicago, Detroit and Washington in recent years.
(H/T The 700 Level)
Posted on: November 19, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 11:41 am
By: Adam Gretz
We were all kind of curious to see how the Jets faithful would welcome Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on Saturday afternoon after his comments last year about not wanting to play in Winnipeg (comments he apologized for heading into the game). As it turns out, Bryzgalov did not play during Philadelphia's 6-4 loss, but Jets fans were prepared to give him a hard time anyway.
One young fan held a homemade sign during warmups with the words "Boo Bryzgalov" written in big, bold letters. After seeing the sign on his way off the ice to the locker room, Bryzgalov responded by giving the young man a hockey stick.
Said eight-year-old Donovan Collier to the Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, "I made the sign because he said we have no parks and we have terrible winters. I think it was very nice of him to give me his stick."
Indeed it was.
Sergei Bobrovsky ended up getting the start between the pipes for Philadelphia and allowed five goals on the 39 shots he faced. Winnipeg's sixth goal was scored an empty net. The Jets raced out to an early 5-1 lead but had to hold on in the closing minutes. In the two games these two teams have played this season they've combined to score 27 goals, with the Jets also taking the first game in a 9-8 thriller back in October.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:09 pm
Let's call this the Ilya Bryzgalov tour of fun.
It started with Bryz facing his former team on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes. His old pals still in the Phoenix red? Let's just say not all of them had flattering comments to make about their former netminder.
There was Derek Morris (no, not THAT Derek Morris) talking about how Bryzgalov gives up soft goals. He even went so far as to say he's glad Bryzgalov is gone and Mike Smith is in. Adrian Aucoin wasn't the most complimentary either.
In the end Bryzgalov got the last laugh with a 2-1 win. Afterward he was only complimentary of his ex-squad.
"It's my former team and not an easy team to beat," he said.
That was Step I, reunion with the team he used to play for. Step II is visiting the city he could have played for, but never would have on Saturday afternoon.
You remember earlier this year, before the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, don't you? Most of the speculation was that the Coyotes, not the Thrashers would become the Jets. So Bryzgalov was asked for his thoughts on the matter and considering he's usually always candid, the response he gave didn't exactly sit well with the 'Peggers.
Here is what he said in April.
Think the people in Winnipeg forgot about that? Of course not. After all, there is no excitement except the hock ...
Bryzgalov remembers it too, and he did back off a bit on Friday.
"I didn't mean it and I didn't want to offend anybody," Bryzgalov said (from Ted Wyman at the Winnipeg Sun). "I'm pretty sure it's good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I'm pretty sure it's passionate fans. I didn't mean it to be honest. That's it."
Since returning to the NHL this season, the Jets fans have enjoyed once again the art of goalie taunting. No doubt they will serenade the goalie with "Illlll-yaaaa" chants all game long, but they could have just a little more juice in store. A popular Jets fan forum has taken to posting sign ideas for fans at the game. I'm envisioning a WWE event or ESPN College Gameday site with signs all over in the crowd. Make it happen Winnipeg.
Of course, with all of the anticipation in Winnipeg for the chance to boo and jeer Bryzgalov, it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky that starts.
As far as the game on the ice is concerned, the Jets are playing better hockey these days and have been getting the habit of knocking off some of the traditionally stronger East teams at home. They come into the game against the Flyers -- the top team in the East at the moment -- having won the last two home games, both against teams in the playoffs last year (Capitals and Lightning). They also knocked off the Penguins at home early in the season.
When you add in the absence of Jaromir Jagr for the game and it won't be a walk in the park (get it?) for Bryzgalov and the Flyers.
Back on track
It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Canadiens were in disarray. They were off to their worst start in more than 60 years. Assistant coach Perry Pearn was fired. Jacques Martin seemed to be only a couple of losses away from meeting the same fate.
Since an October 24 loss to the Florida Panthers and the subsequent dismissal of Pearn, the Canadiens have very quietly rebounded. I mean, when have you known the Habs to do anything quietly? They have posted a 7-3-1 record since that game and have climbed within three points of the division-leading Sabres.
The natural connection to make is to see the team has done well since firing Pearn, so that must have something to do with it. While I don't want to completely dismiss the idea -- there could be some credence to the belief that it was a "wakeup call" for the Habs players -- it probably is more coincidental than anything. Montreal just happened to have a rough patch at the beginning of the season.
This is where I caution you not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. The Canadiens have evened themselves out and are at .500 (if we treat OT losses as ties). Of course, that doesn't mean Martin's seat isn't still hot, it's just not scalding at the moment. He's been passed by Scott Arniel and Paul Maurice in the hot seat rankings.
We will get a better idea of which team more closely resembles the truth: the one that started the season or the one that is 7-3-1 of late. That's because they will go up against arguably the hottest team in hockey on Saturday night. What the Rangers been up to lately? Oh, they're just on a seven-game win streak.
Roller coast of tough love
Speaking of highs and lows, check out the Detroit Red Wings. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion.
The Wings came out of the gate winning their first five games. They followed that up with six straight losses before rebounding with four consecutive wins. Now they have lost two in a row. Pretty amazing for a team to be 17 games in without anything but a streak.
Overall, they have lost five in a row on the road.
"It's tough, nothing that we want to do," said Henrik Zetterberg of the road losing streak. "We have another chance Saturday [in Los Angeles] to turn it around."
That will come on Saturday afternoon against an on-the-up Kings team, 4-1-0 in their last five.
"Do we want to be a good team or not?" coach Mike Babcock said about what will be the subject matter of a team meeting (Detroit News). "Life doesn't just go on good for you. You make a decision it's going to go good for you. You decide for yourself you're going to be successful. You decide for yourself that you're going to make a difference and have a good career. No one just gives you stuff.
"The other teams are trying to. We have to make some decisions."
Ovie debate continues
Alex Ovechkin is drawing a lot of heat these days, and unfortunately for him it isn't over goal celebrations.
At first glance, his numbers don't seem bad (seven goals and seven assists in 17 games) but this is Ovie we're talking about here. Obviously a lot is expected of him.
Right now he is struggling. And, maybe as a result, the Capitals are struggling. Are the two connected? Somewhat. Obviously No. 8 is a big part of the Caps. They especially need more than one goal in a five-game span, such as his current stretch.
So what better place than Toronto for Ovechkin and Washington get find their confidence again? Since James Reimer went down, the goaltending in Toronto has returned to its pre-Reimer state: atrocious. Moreover, Ovechkin has always put up good numbers at the Leafs' place, scoring 23 goals in 23 games there.
It would help ease some of the increasing hysteria in "the nation's hockey capital" if he and the Caps could bust out the scoring stick again in a Hockey Night in Canada showcase.
How much more for Maurice?
That's becoming a popular question in NHL circles right now. Is Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice one or two more losses away from being fired?
Something's gotta give right now in Carolina. The 'Canes have lost six of seven and their star player, Eric Staal, is still struggling to make much of an impression. This was supposed to be a year of progression, not the other way around. After just barely missing the playoffs last spring, the hopes were that the 'Canes would again contend for the postseason as presently constructed.
It would probably go a long way toward calming the panic that is setting in not only among the fans, but GM Jim Rutherford as well, if they handle the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. As you'll recall, Rutherford has fired Maurice before, he could certainly do it again.
We're going streaking
As the great Lou Brown said in Major League: "Gentlemen, we won yesterday. If we win today, that's two in a row. If we win tomorrow, that's what they call a winning streak. It has happened before."
So with that obvious definition in mind, here's a look at the winning streaks in play.
Flyers: As mentioned above, they play in Winnipeg on Saturday and they enter having won three in a row.
Rangers: Also covered, they have won seven games in a row and take that streak into Saturday's tilt against the Habs.
Ottawa Senators: Yes, the Sens have found themselves on another run, winning three in a row. Their lone weekend game comes on Sunday night in Vancouver.
St. Louis Blues: That's right, that Ken Hitchcock move is working out pretty well. The head to Minnesota having won three consecutive.
Kings: Lastly (boy there are a lot of streaks right now) the aforementioned Kings also take a three-game run into their Saturday game against the Red Wings.
Among the losing steaks, we'll just list the top (or bottom) and that's the Oilers, losers of four in a row.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adrian Aucoin, Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Derek Morris, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Eric Staal, Henrik Zetterberg, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jacques Martin, James Reimer, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Babcock, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Paul Maurice, Perry Pearn, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:06 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Thanks to a late goal from rookie sensation Matt Read the Philadelphia Flyers were able to pull out a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. It proved to be a somewhat costly win as the team lost Jaromir Jagr to what has been described as a "lower body injury" after he played just 1:22 of ice-time before exiting in the first period.
Jagr has been a vital part of the Flyers' early season success, scoring at a point-per-game pace throughh his first 17 games of the season, while forming an outstanding 1-2 punch with Claude Giroux.
Though the injury is not considered to be serious, it's assumed that Jagr will not make the trip to Winnipeg for the Flyers' game against the Jets on Saturday.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced against his former team to help pick up the win, which had to be pretty satisfying on a personal level after a couple of his former teammates had some strong words for him prior to the game.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:37 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 5:48 pm
By: Adam Gretz
So far, the Phoenix Coyotes attempt to replace Ilya Bryzgalov with Mike Smith has been a success. Smith has played extremely well in the early part of the season and the Coyotes continue to win hockey games despite losing Bryzgalov over the summer, trading his rights to the Flyers before he was eligible to hit unrestricted free agency.
The obvious questions coming into the season were how well the Coyotes would be able to adjust without Bryzgalov, seeing as how he's been one of the better goaltenders in the league over the past few seasons, and whether or not Smith would be up to the task of replacing him.
On Thursday night the Coyotes will be getting their first look at Bryzgalov from the other side when they travel to Philadelphia, and a couple of veteran defensemen, Derek Morris and Adrian Aucoin, had some pretty strong words regarding their former teammate.
Said Morris in a pre-game discussion with Coyotes broadcaster Todd Walsh, via Broad Street Hockey, "First of all we have to throw a lot of pucks at Bryz. He's known for letting in bad goals, you know, so I think our mindset is going to be get the puck down behind the net and hopefully he comes out and plays a few because he doesn't like to do that. We have to put some pressure on Bryz. We've gotta make it a tough night, we gotta have guys in front, we've gotta be banging away at rebounds. He gets frustrated that way."
Morris also added that he's "glad" that Bryzgalov is gone because Smith has fit in with the team better and made them closer, while there was "some animosity" at times between he and the rest of the team.
Added Aucoin, when asked if there was, in fact, animosity in the locker room, "Absolutely. I honestly haven't met almost any hockey player that's really a bad person. I think he was different as a player, obviously he was a great player, more as a person. Sometimes he just did things that aren't very typical of hockey players or teammates, but he's a good goalie."
It should be expected for the Coyotes to have strong praise for their new teammate, and one that's playing extremely well with a .933 save percentage, seventh best in the NHL, in his13 starts. But to have such harsh words for Bryzgalov, and for Morris to go as far as to say he's glad he's gone is certainly interesting. If nothing else he found a way to get some extra excitement and something else to watch for in a random interconference game in the middle of November.
Bryzgalov definitely has a strong personality and is a bit "out there" at times. Take, for example, his post-game meltdown following a 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets earlier this season when he talked about how he was "terrible" and "lost in the woods."
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 3:55 pm
What better time than after the Hall of Fame ceremony for the GMs to gather and discuss the issues of the day? After all, most of them are already in town for the festivities anyway.
The item on the morning agenda of the meetings? It truly was the top issue of the day: goaltender safety. Spurred by the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller, the rules regarding goaltenders outside the crease have been a hot topic. While the rulebook clearly states a goalie is not fair game anywhere on the ice, it has been a muddy conversation.
“Just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, that when they’re out on the open ice, that they’re going to be protected,” Armstrong said. “We do want continued play in front of the net, but we want to make sure that when they’re outside the [blue] ice, that they’re protected.”
The best way that people are describing the protection of goaltenders is to draw the parallel to football and the quarterback. In football, the QB has become like an endangered species, seemingly any affront to his safety has been squashed. Drives a QB into the ground after a pass? Personal foul. Same goes for when a scrambling QB slides to the ground.
“In my opinion, I think we have to [protect goalies like QBs],” Penguins GM Ray Shero said. “I’m not talking about plays around the crease, because there will be incidental contact ... We’re talking about a regular season game, we’re talking about the incident with Lucic and Ryan Miller. You get into a playoff series and if these guys are going to be coming out to play pucks, and you can run them over and get a two-minute penalty, then I think you’re going to open up a pretty dangerous set of circumstances.
“Several of the general managers just brought up the fact there’s only 60 goaltenders in the league, and we have to be pretty careful in terms of, if they’re going to play puck outside the crease, what should be fair,” Shero said. “We’ll continue to look at it, and probably talk about it much more at the March meeting, as well.”
Is it a bit reactionary? Of course. The Lucic/Miller incident is fresh and was pretty uncommon. But the reactions after the hit proved the need for some clarification on the matter, even if it was as simple as getting rule 69.4 spread around for everybody to see.
This is where Brendan Shanahan's decision not to suspend Lucic, for the hit comes into play a bit. Many, myself included, believed that if nothing else a token suspension was called for against Lucic, something to make it clear that goalies can't be run over. But Shanahan believed Lucic did not intend to hit Miller and that it was more of an unfortunate collision. He reiterated the point to the GMs that goalies will be protected and offenders could still be suspended. From Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com:
"Shanahan told GMs that players should NOT read into Lucic ruling that goalies are fair game. Quite the opposite, Shanahan warned GMs."
The GMs don't want to see more incidents like it and want to nip it in the bud now before frontier justice like that alluded by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knocks another goaltender out for a period of time. I believe for most GMs it's a matter of self-preservation if anything else (in this case self being their team's interests).
“That’s going to be the message to our team -- the goalies are not fair game,” Shero said. “If the guy’s going to play it outside the crease, you have to be pretty careful.”
Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I believe the root of that statement from Shero comes out of the fear of losing Marc-Andre Fleury for some time.
As for rest of the meetings, also on the schedule was the 1-3-1 trap that caused such a stir last week after the bizarre scene between the Flyers and Lightning which led to a stalemate. To that, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman gave a reasonable response, saying they don't want to overreact to something that has only happened once. Perhaps Flyers GM Paul Holmgren put it best: "I'd like to see us attack the situation a little bit differently than we did last game."
The other big item on the docket was realignment, something Flyers chairman Ed Snider brought up again in Toronto. But right now that's all just chatter among the GMs. The decision on realignment will made at the Board of Governors meeting in December.
All of these conversations and more will get hashed out again in March the next time the GMs gather.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:41 am
All along, the reports have said the NHL was looking to do as little as possible in regards to moving teams. In a perfect world for the powers that be, the Jets would be moved into the Central, perhaps the Blue Jackets go in the Southeast and you call it a day.
Throw all of the above angles into a crockpot with the other spices affecting the situation added in and you have "total realignment" cooking, according to Flyers chairman Ed Snider.
“There has to be,” Snider told Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly about total realignment. “But our traditional rivalries will always be with us no matter how it is realigned. I’m pretty confident of that.”
Perhaps the reason for his confidence in that is his belief that the Pennsylvania teams will remain together, something which the proposal that was reportedly gaining steam did not feature.
“We’ll be together without question, if under a four conference set-up,” Snider predicted of the Flyers and Penguins. “We will have all our traditional rivals and some others in a four-conference setup.”
The question begs: what is total realignment? Could that be a situation where conferences aren't divided by east and west but instead split seemingly at random like the NFL and MLB? Does it mean a return to the four-conference format, as Snider alludes to? Does it mean Florida is joining the Northwest Division?
I think about the only thing we can safely assume is that "total realignment" would include the abolition of the six-division format currently in use. I wouldn't rule anything else out at this point (OK, I guess I'd rule out that Florida-to-Northwest, too).
If I had to put money down I'd expect to see the four-conference format that we used to enjoy, and not just because Snider hinted at it. I think it could give the league the most flexibility in the case of a Phoenix move to the East.
The idea has been discussed already of having unbalanced conferences a la Major League Baseball (although it looks like that won't remain as the Houston Astros are reportedly moving to the American League). Assuming that enough franchises would be happy with that idea, the realignment starts with 15 teams per conference and then they could easily flip to the unbalanced, 16/14 look with simply switching the Coyotes franchise to the East after their hypothetical move. If they stay, then you keep balanced conferences.
When this is all said and done, I can't imagine everybody will be happy. But such is life, the teams with the most clout -- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh each fall into this category -- are much more likely to get their way.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:36 pm
The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its four newest members (from the players department) -- Mark Howe, Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk -- on Monday in Toronto. It was an emotional night for all of them, with each coming near -- or in the case of Gilmour succumbing to -- tears.
Of the four speeches, the one by Howe will be remembered the most. His speech began with him honoring the victims of the KHL crash that took the lives of everybody but one person aboard the flight in September. Of course, he played with the coach of the Lokomotiv team, Brad McCrimmon, who was on the plane when it crashed. That was an emotional start.
Here is the entirety of Howe's speech, from philly.com.
But it is how he finished his speech that was so memorable. After thanking all the members of his family, he saved his dad, none other than Gordie Howe, for last. To honor his father, he pulled out a Red Wings No. 9 jersey with Howe on the back and sported it to a large ovation. He then had some fond words for his dad and the two had a great moment.
I felt a little for Belfour, who had to follow up that show with his induction speech.
“We think very carefully about the numbers we retire,” Snider said. “I don’t want to say one thing one way or another, but I feel that anybody who was in the Hall of Fame that was a Philadelphia Flyer, their number should be retired.”
Personally, I love how Howe embraces the fact that he's the son of Mr. Hockey. It can be a tough spot to be the child of a legend, they are burdened by expectations just because of their name. Sometimes they try to forge their own path and don't want to be compared to their lineage. But Howe never really shied away from that, never more evident than his own enshrinement ceremony.