Posted on: February 18, 2012 3:55 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 6:27 pm
By: Adam Gretz
When the Penguins and Flyers get together you can be sure that it's going to be a ridiculous game. Saturday's 6-4 Pittsburgh win in Philadelphia was no exception. There were penalties, a questionable hit from behind by Jordan Staal, and Matt Cooke scoring a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal, the Penguins' second shorthanded goal of the game, with both coming on the same penalty kill.
Check out Cooke's goal, which gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead late in the second period.
How rare is a 3-on-5 goal? Consider that it was the first one in the NHL this season, and that since the start of the 2005-06 season there were only 10 such goals scored across the entire league before Cooke found the back of the net. If you go back as far as the 1997-98 season, there were only 20 shorthanded goals scored in those situations before Saturday.
Former Flyers forward Mike Richards has actually scored three of them, and is the NHL's all-time leader for 3-on-5 goals.
Cooke's goal, which resulted in Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov being removed from the game for Sergei Bobrovsky, came just minutes after Staal scored a shorthanded goal of his own to tie the game at two. Staal was involved in another big player earlier in the game when he hit Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn from behind into the boards, resulting in a two-minute minor for boarding. It could have (and probably should have) been more.
It's a play that resulted in a $2,500 fine from the NHL. He has a clean resume in the NHL and doesn't have a reputation as being a dirty player, which probably worked in his favor. Staal was penalized on the play, but the Flyers didn't get a power play as Kimmo Timonen was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It was simply that kind of day, and not one of the better officiated games you will see in the NHL this season.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:35 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 6:32 pm
At this point I'm wondering what the New York Rangers have to do to convince everybody they are this good. I'm already there but I still find a lot of skeptics.
They do everything well enough. Some things they do exceptionally well, like stop pucks from going in the net. You can thank Henrik Lundqvist for that largely, but it's a team effort. There might not be a tougher team to get shots through the defensemen than the Rangers. They are physical, evidenced by their league high fighting majors. Now they are scoring just enough to support Lundqvist.
And they have passed pretty much every test thrown at them this season, including this weekend. Back-to-back against the Flyers and Capitals? No problem. They took all four points possible, including a fifth win in five chances against Philly on Saturday, 5-2 at Wells Fargo Center. That featured a Ryan Callahan hat trick.
Captain Cally kept it up with the first goal of the Blueshirts' 3-1 win on Sunday over the Caps. Go back to Thursday night win over the Lightning and that's five goals for Callahan in his last three games.
To give it a little more significance with a much larger sample size, Dave Lozo of NHL.com did some quick math today: using Callahan's last 113 games, he has averaged 32 goals per 82 games, a full season's worth. Not bad for a guy who has a career high of 23 set last season (which he is one away from breaking this season).
That doesn't even factor in the shots that he blocks. He is the epitome of John Tortorella's Rangers: hard-nosed, two-way player who will throw his body in front of anything and give the team all he has. Basically he has all the intangibles you love in a player while actually possessing many of the tangibles, too.
If you have any doubt, check out the goal he scored on Sunday. It was ugly but beautiful all at the same time.
At this point, the Rangers are atop the NHL standings in points (depending on Sunday's result in Detroit). Even if they aren't there at the end of the day, their points percentage is tops in the league. They have 77 points in 54 games, the Wings have played two more games (three more by the end of the night.
New York is actually pulling away from the rest of the East in the race for home-ice throughout the conference playoffs. They are up seven points now on the Boston Bruins.
The thing that gets me was on display this weekend. They have been just as good on the road as they have been at Madison Square Garden. They won both games this weekend despite one being in Philadelphia. Overall, they are 18-6-2 at MSG, 18-7-3 away from it. That's pretty remarkable. Winning on the road is crucial, especially when it comes to postseason success.
It all has people dreaming of the summer of 1994 again, another summer parade down Broadway.
Personally, I've run out of reasons to think it can't happen.
Blackhawks (falling) down
While they aren't pressing it yet, I get the sense that a lot of Blackhawks fans are digging through their things looking for that big red button. No, I don't mean the tchotchke Staples easy button.
With a sweep on their weekend visits to San Jose and Phoenix, including a 3-0 blanking by the Coyotes on Saturday night, the Blackhawks have lost eight consecutive games. Eight! They have earned just one of the last 16 points available.
Their place in the Central Division race is all but gone. They trail the division-leading Red Wings by 11 points. With two teams in between them (the Blues and Predators) the hope of winning the division is all but gone, especially with the Wings not leaving Detroit often for the rest of the season.
More importantly, they have to watch their playoff spot. With the loss to Phoenix, the 'Hawks are only three points up on eighth place, five ahead of ninth-place Calgary. And that could diminish further as the Blackhawks still have three more games on this extended road trip.
Playing a little game I'll call fun with Twitter, the Eye on Hockey account (follow it here!) asked if this was the bottom for the Blackhawks, if they had really hit the floor yet. One fan -- @therudeinshrewd -- didn't think so. "No, something tells me the #blackhawks haven't bottomed out yet. i think the road trip will be winless. THAT will be bottom."
It's gotten to the point that Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times is wondering if coach Joel Quenneville's seat isn't hot. The defense has some serious issues, coming in 27th in the league in goals against per game with an even 3.00. Their goal differential is down to plus-3 thanks to their high goals for (174 to 171).
This can't be too far from the bottom you'd figure with a team that has this type of talent, but it's getting close to desperate in Chicago.
Just give him the Hart
For the third time since Dec. 17, Geno had himself a five-point game this weekend in Pittsburgh's 8 -5 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Unlike the previous two five-pointers, this one didn't come with a hat trick. He was in a much more giving mood this time scoring a goal with four assists.
But considering the injuries the Penguins are dealing with again this season and their position of still being solidly in the East's playoff picture, Malkin is separating himself from the rest of the Hart candidates, too. Barring injury, it seems a safe bet that he'll take the "MVP" award home -- unless the aforementioned Lundqvist doesn't take it.
While we're at it ...
Might as well just hand Stamkos the Richard Trophy now too.
Scoring is down in the NHL, colleague Adam Gretz explained that in his most recent edition of Pucks & Numbers (a must-read weekly piece, hockey fans), yet Stamkos isn't stopping.
The 22-year-old is now up to 37 on the season after potting one in a 2-1 Lightning win in Buffalo on Saturday. That puts him seven ahead of Malkin and Phil Kessel in the goals department, a very comfortable lead with less than 30 games to go.
Like Malkin and the Hart, it's really hard to imagine at this point that Stamkos won't win the Richard barring injury.
Goals not so plentiful here
The Los Angeles Kings might be solely responsible for bringing down the league's scoring total mentioned above. Even with the coaching change from Terry Murray to Darryl Sutter, the Kings are still at the bottom of the league in that category, averaging just 2.07 goals per game.
That ineptitude was on display at the Islanders on Saturday. For the second straight game on their current road trip the Kings scored only one goal. The good news for them is that the Islanders only scored one goal in the first 60 minutes too before winning it in OT. So at least the Kings got a point.
But when you are fighting hard for a playoff berth in the Western Conference, scoring one goal in games isn't going to help you get to your end. The Kings are right now holding onto the seventh spot in the West after their league-high (tied with Florida and Carolina) 11th OT loss this season. Those extra points will be awfully important at season's end.
You have to think the Kings will be one of the more aggressive teams in the hunt for that elusive scoring forward at the trade deadline.
Quote of the weekend
For the visually/audio impaired ...
"I'm a little disappointed at the effort, the emotional level, a top team in the conference and league and to be honest. We got half the guys going and half not.
"That was my opinion. You might see differently, but that is what I saw. It’s a big game for us and I was expecting more. It was tight game, they got three power play goals, we didn’t score any.
"They play the same way every night. There's no surprises and if there is a breakdown their goalie makes the save and they block a ton of shots. Somehow they get the job done. They work hard. They play the same system every night and their goal plays really well every night.
"You have to bring it every night. I don't care who you are ... Every game matters. You have to bring it!"
Sounds like those five losses to the Rangers this season (seven in a row) are really starting to take their toll.
Tags: Brian Stubits, Chicago Blackhawks, Darryl Sutter, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Joel Quenneville, John Tortorella, Kimmo Timonen, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Callahan, San Jose Sharks, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Weekend Wrap, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:23 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:42 am
By: Adam Gretz
We knew which players were going to be taking part in the All-Star game this season, but we had no idea which team they would be playing for and who they would be playing against. It was all settled in Ottawa on Thursday night as Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the two captains for this year's game, made their selections as you can see below in the order they were picked.
Chara won the coin toss and ended up with the first selection and chose Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, and continued to load up on offense in the early rounds going with Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa and Phil Kessel.
Kessel, of course, was the last pick in the All-Star draft a year ago, but went in the eighth round this season. The last man standing this season was San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture.
Two developments that should not have been a surprise to anybody: First, The Vancouver-Boston rivalry that started in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, and carried over into this season as we saw in their regular season matchup a couple of weeks ago, continued on as Chara did not pick a single Canuck.
That means that unlike last year when they were split up, the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, will play on the same team as they've always done throughout their time in the NHL.
Also not a surprise: Alfredsson made sure to pick every Senator in the game, ending up with Erik Karlsson (his first pick), Jason Spezza (his second pick) and Milan Michalek.
More NHL All-Star Game Coverage
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Tags: 2012 All-Star Game, Adam Gretz, Alex Edler, Boston Bruins, Brian Campbell, Carey Price, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Dan Girardi, Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin, Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Sedin, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Jason Pominville, Jason Spezza, Jimmy Howard, Joffrey Lupul, Jonathan Quick, Jordan Eberle, Keith Yandle, Kimmo Timonen, Kris Letang, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators, Patrick Kane, Pavel Datsyuk, Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter, Scott Hartnell, Steven Stamkos, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara
Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:49 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- For the first 35 or so minutes, the fifth edition of the Winter Classic was on its way to being the most forgettable. By the end, it was one of the most memorable. And it was a Henrik Lundqvist save away from being the most controversial.
With 19.6 seconds left and a mad scramble in front of the Rangers net, the play was blown dead. What came next was a penalty shot from Danny Briere, the Flyers trailing 3-2, the result of Ryan McDonagh covering the puck in the crease according to the officials.
It was the most dramatic moment in a Winter Classic to date.
"It was just a big scramble in the end they started to get pucks in front," Lundqvist said. "I didn't really see the puck I just stretched out my right leg and tried to stay on the post there and then I hear the whistle and then I hear the ref 'penalty shot.' I couldn't believe it."
Not surprisingly, neither could Rangers coach John Tortorella. "The penalty shot, I still don't understand."
The fans came to their feet when Briere circled in his own of the ice, getting ready for the chance to tie the game. Briere got the call instead of Claude Giroux, tied for the NHL's league lead in points after his beautiful backhand goal earlier in the game.
"We had a choice between the guys that were on the ice," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It comes down to really between Danny and Claude, they're both regulars in the shootout. I think Danny, being a natural goal scorer, thrives in that area a little bit more. It was my decision."
So Briere came down deliberately, eventually firing the shot at Lundqvist's five hole. Denied.
"I just tried to be patient and do my thing," Lundqvist said. "He's a tricky guy. If I make the first move he's going to score. Obviously there's a lot of pressure on me there. I couldn't believe when he called it a penalty shot but it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. The end was pretty intense but it was great."
It was definitely intense. The Rangers had to find every bit of strength to hold off a massive Flyers push to close the game that was aided by some penalties, ones that Tortorella wondered about after the game. For as forthright as Lundqvist was admitting to his surprise, Tortorella was as subtle as an elephant walking across down the street.
"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said afterward. "It started with the non-call on Gabby's [Marian Gaborik] walk, he gets pitch-forked in the stomach and then everything starts going against us.
"For two good referees, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they did want to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. They're good guys, I just thought tonight, in that third period, it was disgusting."
One of those calls that didn't go their way was against Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. He was advancing up the left wing with about a minute to go, hunting an empty-net goal to end the suspense. He was taken down by Kimmo Timonen. Instead of a goal for the Rangers, Callahan was called for holding the stick to match Timonen's interference.
"Apparently I was holding his stick," a bewildered Callahan said after the game. "The stick was up by my chin. It was a tough one."
As a result Callahan, one of the Rangers' best shot-blockers, was left to watch that dramatic sequence from the penalty box.
"I was in the box but from what I saw it looked like Richards was pushing the puck out of the crease," Callahan said. "Hankie then comes up with a huge save to win it for us."
It was a huge save that likely saved the Winter Classic conspiracy talk from being at a fever pitch. What Tortorella said was a bit tongue in cheek -- I think -- but there would have been a lot more of the same cries coming from outside.
It certainly made for one memorable finish, that much can't be disputed.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:28 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Boston Bruins completely dismantled the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, cruising to a 6-0 win in a game that featured the type of physical play that is to be expected anytime these two teams are on the same ice surface.
It wasn't a physical hockey play, however, that resulted in the latest head injury for a Flyers player. With time ticking down in the opening period, and the Flyers already facing a four-goal deficit, rookie forward Sean Couturier was involved in a rather scary incident in front of the net when he was hit in the side of the head with a puck following a shot from his own teammate, defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
He left the game and did not return with what general manager Paul Holmgren described as "a head injury."
That's the type of month it's been for the Flyers, a team that's already lost forwards Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn, as well as defenseman Chris Pronger, to concussions. It was announced this past week that Pronger is expected to be out for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, while there is no immediate timetable for Giroux or Schenn to return.
Of course, that wasn't the only noteworthy development during Saturday's game.
Late in the second period Bruins forward Milan Lucic was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Zac Rinaldo from behind, setting off one of the game's three fights.
Given that there was an ejection it's sure to get at least another look from the NHL's disciplinary czar, Brendan Shanahan, even if nothing comes of it. Over the past week we've seen Toronto's Dion Phaneuf and Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian be ejected for hits from behind with no supplemental discipline handed out by the league.
Saturday's game also marked the return of defenseman Zdeno Chara to the Boston lineup and he responded with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, scoring a goal, recording an assist and fighting Philadelphia's Jody Shelley.
For the Bruins, it's their fourth in a row, a stretch that's seen them outscore their opponents 19-5, as they continue their dominant run that started over a month ago that's seen them post an 18-2-1 record since November 1.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 4:44 pm
By: Adam Gretz
When the Philadelphia Flyers traded Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings earlier this summer they not only traded their best two-way forward, they also said goodbye to the player that was their captain over the past three seasons.
That void was filled on Friday afternoon when it was announced that defenseman Chris Pronger has been named the 18th captain in franchise history, and their eighth since the 2000-01 season. Forward Danny Briere and defenseman Kimmo Timonen will serve as the alternate captains.
The Flyers acquired Pronger before the 2009-10 season from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and a first-round draft pick, and it seemed to be a perfect match from the beginning.
Shortly after the trade the Flyers signed Pronger to a massive seven-year, $34.4 million contract extension that carries a $4.9 million cap hit that will continue to count against the cap even if Pronger retires since it was signed after he turned 35. He will turn 37 in October and still has six years remaining on his current deal.
Pronger made an immediate impact for the Flyers during the '09-10 season and recorded 55 points in 82 regular season games, and was also a workhorse during the playoffs when the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where they would ultimately lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
He was limited to just 50 games last season and appeared in just three of the Flyers playoff games while going through four different surgeries over the course of the season. His availability for the start of the regular season is still uncertain at this point, even though general manager Paul Holmgren recently said that he expects him to be ready when Philadelphia opens its season on Oct. 6 against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
After an offseason overhaul of the roster that saw the team trade Richards and Jeff Carter, while also losing players like Ville Leino in free agency, their offense has taken a hit in the short-term. That of course means the defense, led by Pronger and Timmonen, as well as newly acquired goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will need to not only be healthy and in the lineup, but also be on top of their game if the Flyers have any hope of being a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 25, 2011 10:28 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:19 pm
By: Adam Gretz
After a series of trades and some re-tooling of the roster earlier this summer, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has pretty much become the face of the Philadelphia Flyers. He's the highest paid player on the team and the third highest-paid player in the NHL this season, a contract he signed shortly after forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were sent packing to Los Angeles and Columbus.
With that comes plenty of expectation, especially at a position that has been viewed as the only weak link for a perennial Stanley Cup contender. It's a bold shift in organizational structure for the Flyers, a team that over the past several years went through each season and playoff run with a revolving door of goaltenders with relatively small salary cap commitments.
Over the past three seasons alone the Flyers used eight different goaltenders for at least one game. Those days appear to be over, as Bryzgalov will obviously be counted on to solidify the position for the next several years. Whether he will be enough to overcome the loss of offensive players like Richards, Carter and Ville Leino remains to be seen, but the 31-year-old has become one of the most important players -- if not the most important player -- in the organization for the foreseeable future.
The Flyers introduced Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia media on Thursday, and he's not only ready to play as many games as the Flyers need him to play, he's expecting to win a lot of them, too (then again, what else is he going to say?).
Said Bryzgalov, "When you play a lot, you feel confident about your game. If they need me to play 70 games, I'll play 70. If they need me to play 50, I'll play 50. So it all depends on the coach and management, whatever they need."
He's also looking to win at least 40 games this season, something he did two years ago as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. Playing 50 games, or even 60 games, hasn't been an issue in recent years as he was a workhorse for the Coyotes, appearing in at least 64 games in each of the past four seasons.
The 40 wins, however, could be tougher goal to reach.
Of course, regular seasons wins aren't going to be what the majority of Flyers fans care about. It's all going to come down to what happens in the playoffs, an area that remains somewhat of a question for Bryzgalov after some struggles the past two seasons with the Coyotes, a team that simply wasn't as talented from top-to-bottom as the Detroit Red Wings teams that eliminated them (he had more postseason success with Anaheim back in 2005 and 2006).
The Flyers lost a lot of offense this summer and are replacing it with some unproven -- though talented -- youngsters up front, while their top two defenseman (Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen) are both a year older, which means more responsibility for the man in goal. He's an improvement over what they've been running out there in past years for sure, but it's not out of the question for the Flyers to take a bit of a step back this year as a team, even with the upgrade Bryzgalov will bring.
You can see Bryzgalov's introductory press conference in its entirety at the Flyers website.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:39 am
PEGGING A NAME: True North CEO Jim Ludlow told the Winnipeg Sun that a name for the team has to be announced very soon. Then Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted early Friday that Winnipeg was expected to release the name just before making the seventh pick in tonight's NHL Draft. Now clearly the overwhelming crowd favorite has been to bring back the name and logo of the Jets. Other names that have been floated around include the Falcons, Moose, Ice Bears and my personal favorite from the Twittersphere, the Phoenix. The question is which name would be best?
TAKING OFF: Philadelphia still has a lot to come after Thursday's flurry. Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News says the Flyers would love to move even higher in tonight's draft (they're at No. 8 after trading Jeff Carter to Columbus) as they covet Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog. Now he figures to go No. 2 or No. 3 overall, so Philly would have to make a move to get him. One potential could be a deal with Dale Tallon and Florida at No. 3, who have been in talks about moving up as well as down. Yesterday there was a lot of smoke building about reuniting Kris Versteeg and Tallon via trade, and Seravalli says it makes a lot of sense, especially when you swap the team's first picks. If the Flyers don't go that route ... or even if they do ... they might take a serious shot at pulling Steven Stamkos from Tampa Bay if a new deal isn't signed by July 1. Far-fetched, but a possibility.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: When the Flyers made their two trades yesterday, it didn't really enter GM Paul Holmgren's mind that he was shipping the team captain out of town. But one of myriad questions now for Philly is who wears the C next? CSN Philly says all signs point to Chris Pronger, who is no stranger to being captain, a position he held while playing in Anaheim and St. Louis. But Danny Briere (Buffalo) and Kimmo Timonen (Nashville) have also been captains at one point in the NHL and Timonen currently wears an A on his sweater.
SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN: For the first time in the franchise's history, the Ottawa Senators begin the process of rebuilding tonight. Since building up from an expansion franchise, the team hasn't been in a situation quite like this and the Sens have an arsenal of draft picks at their disposal, having 12 spread out over the seven rounds. That means there is little to no way the Senators don't leave the draft a) having stockpiled their organization with prospects or b) having made a tremendous impact on their roster and the draft by making some moves. Either way, silversevensens makes the argument this is the most important draft in Ottawa's history.
SOCAL HAS HART: In true Southern California style, Corey Perry took his two new trophies -- those would be the Hart and Rocket Richard -- to the Santa Monica pier for a photo op. Jeff Miller of the OC Register relayed a great story from the scenes where a little boy asked if they were celebrating a championship. When he was told no, that Perry was the MVP, the boy responded, "So he's like Kobe Bryant?" Kind of, kid, especially with that killer instinct he showed in the clutch this season.
-- Brian Stubits