Tag:Philadelphia Flyers
Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Breakout players: JVR ready to shine in Philly

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By: Adam Gretz

There are plenty of new faces in the Philadelphia Flyers locker room this season, and they are going to have the difficult task of replacing the offensive production that belonged to several of last season's top-scorers that are no longer with the team, including Mike Richards (traded), Jeff Carter (traded) and Ville Leino (free agency). Players like Danny Briere and Claude Giroux are still there to help lead the charge, and big things are expected from 2007 No. 2 overall pick James van Riemsdyk.

The 22-year-old van Riemsdyk is entering his third season in the league and signed a brand new six-year, $26.5 million contract extension earlier this summer, coming off a 21-goal, 19-assist season for the Flyers in 2010-11. Solid numbers for a second-year pro, but it was during the playoffs where he really started to excel. Considering the expensive new deal he signed a couple of months ago, it's pretty obvious the Flyers expect him to continue his development and become a top player in a suddenly re-tooled Flyers lineup. And it's something he should be able to do.

Van Riemsdyk's breakout started during last year's playoffs when he played top-line minutes against Buffalo and Boston, typically against their best players, and finished tied for the team lead in playoff goals with seven. Along with the goals he was arguably the Flyers' best overall forward in the playoffs, making an impact every time he stepped on the ice, even with star players like Richards and Carter still on the roster.

That should continue to be the case in 2011.

He's going to be asked to take on a larger role for the Flyers this season, and as he showed in last year's playoffs, when the game becomes a little faster and goals a little harder to come by, he is more than capable of handling that assignment. Thirty-or-more goals shouldn't be out of the question.

Four more players, in no particular order, that could be on the verge of a breakout season…

OshieT.J. Oshie, Blues A former first-round pick by the Blues in 2005, Oshie has had his ups and downs in St. Louis, including a suspension last season following an unexcused absence. He's reportedly shown up to Blues camp in top shape and has apparently dedicated himself to becoming more of a pro. Talent has never been an issue for the 24-year-old Oshie, and now that he appears to be in great shape and committed to becoming a top player, a breakout season could be right around the corner.


SubbanP.K. Subban, Canadiens With Andrei Markov's status for the start of the season up in the air due to a setback in his recovery from a knee injury, as well as the departure of Roman Hamrlik and James Wisniewski, Subban could quickly become the top offensive option for the Canadiens along the blue line. And the flashy 22-year-old definitely has the tools to make a huge impact. He's kind of a polarizing player at this point in his career -- among both fans and players -- and seems to have that "love him or hate him" attraction, but there's no denying the ability and upside. As a rookie he scored 14 goals to go with 24 assists, which is impressive enough, but he's capable of doing even more damage to opponents.

WilsonColin Wilson, Predators There is perhaps no team in the NHL that relies on its farm system more than the Nashville Predators. This year's team has a couple of interesting youngsters including Nashville native Blake Geoffrion, who scored six goals in 20 gameas last year, and Craig Smith, a fourth-round pick in 2009 that had a sensational summer at the World Championships and the recent prospects tournament. There's also former first-round pick Colin Wilson who has a ton of talent but has yet to fully realize it at the NHL level. Entering the final year of his entry level contract, this could be the season the 21-year-old forward becomes the player the Predators anticipated when they selected him at the top of the 2008 draft.


CarlsonJohn Carlson, Capitals Like Subban, Carlson is coming off an excellent rookie season with the Capitals and has All-Star level potential. He already has experience playing top-pairing minutes -- he also saw time in every situation, including the power play and the penalty kill  as a rookie -- and is loaded with offensive ability. One of the top young defensemen in the NHL and figures to be a core player for one of the best teams in the NHL.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.


Posted on: September 22, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:53 pm
 

NHL to reveal Winter Classic in worst secret ever

By Brian Stubits

The NHL has scheduled a news conference for Monday to make a big announcement. Let's take a look at the release.

The National Hockey League will host a major press event Sept. 26 at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia.
The press conference will start at 1:30 p.m. ET, and will be televised by the NHL Network and streamed at NHL.com. Coverage of the press conference on NHL Network will begin at 1 p.m. and be streamed on NHL.com.

The suspense is killing everybody; what could it be? Why have it at the home of baseball's Phill ... oh.

Yes, the NHL is going to finally announce the worst-kept secret going in sports, that the New York Rangers will play the Philadelphia Flyers in Citizens Bank Park for the Winter Classic. This thing has been leaked more than the U.S. Department of Defense's reports.

Just today the below video began making rounds around the Internet. Also, a pretty professional logo is floating out there too. Throw in the fact that it is the only game scheduled for the daytime on Jan. 2 (Jan. 1 belongs to the NFL this year ... absolute sacrilege the Rose Bowl won't be on New Year's Day, same goes for the Winter Classic) and HBO already beginning to film for its 24/7 series, and you could see this one a mile away. Make that 20 miles.

Whether or not the video or logo are genuine doesn't really matter. First of all, either could be used even if they aren't official, they look to be close enough. Secondly, it just underscores the point of how poorly this has been kept quiet.

Maybe this will be a lesson for the NHL. There has been no reason to delay making this announcement. Things have appeared to be wrapped up for months on this game. Instead, the NHL has taken away any suspense whatsoever from the announcement of its most spectacular event.

Photo: Courtesy of Puck Daddy

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 7:33 pm
 

Shelley's hard hit on Boyce to test Shanahan

By Brian Stubits

It didn't take long for us to get a test case for new discipline chief Brendan Shanahan.

Last night in Philadelphia, Jody Shelley laid an ugly hit on the Maple Leafs' Darryl Boyce into the boards, receiving a major penalty, game misconduct and cut over his eye from a Jay Rosehill punch. See the play and ensuing fight for yourself.

This comes on the heels of Shanahan sending out changes to the boarding rules to all the teams. In particular, here is what it had to say that's in play here.

This season, a boarding penalty will be assessed to a player who checks or pushes a defenseless player in a manner that causes the player to have a potentially violent and/or dangerous impact with the boards. The word "pushes" was added to the rule and "defenseless" replaced the word "vulnerable."
The onus now is going to be on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position. If he is, the player applying the hit must avoid or, at the very least, minimize the contact.

After the game Boyce talked about the hit, sporting a freshly broken nose.

“I think it was late for sure and my back was to the wall, so it definitely was not a clean hit,” Boyce said. “The game moves so fast out there that sometimes you think that it wasn’t late and it was clean. That’s just the speed of the game.”

Clearly Shelley is looking at some punishment from the league. The puck was long gone from Boyce's stick and the hit seems to fit the type of play the league is trying to rid to a T. Considering Shelley doesn't have the cleanest track record, I would expect to see Shelley sit out the remainder of the preseason, at least, and have to pay a fine.

In addition to being a perfect opportunity for Shanahan to show how serious he is about eradicating these hits from the game, it's an equally good chance to help clarify the rules. They have been changing so much in recent years that nobody really knows what it legal and what's not these days.

Your move, Shanny.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:00 am
 

Daily Skate: A new Islanders plan; Yashin to KHL

By Brian Stubits

ANOTHER ISLAND IDEA: Hope is not lost for the Islanders to not only stay on Long Island, but to remain in Nassau County. Since being turned down by a public vote, the team has been solicitin proposals for the land and they unveiled one on Wednesday that calls for a minor-league baseball park, outdoor ice rink, shopping and renovations to the Nassau Coliseum that would include raising the seat capacity. (Newsday)

BACK TO THE U.S.S.R.: Or at least Russia. After a summer of flirtation and rumors about rejoining the New York Islanders, Alexei Yashin will be returning to the KHL this season. Once he passes a physical, Yashin will be the newsest member of HC CSKA Moscow. (The Score)

DEEPER LOOK INTO ENFORCERS: This summer has illuminated the life of enforcers more than ever before with former fighters coming forward to tell their stories. Here's another player sharing his experiences as Brent Severyn. One of the most interesting parts for me is how no matter if he won or lost a fight, he was upset, either by his own embarrassment or knowing the embarrassment the other fighter is going to endure. (SI.com)

CHANGED MAN: Jordin Tootoo was once an up-and-coming prospect for the Predators who surprised everybody when he checked himself into the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program in December. Now he's back in Nashville camp and looking like a brand new player. (The Predatorial)

MIKKO READY TO WIN: This summer Mikko Koivu got a taste of winning, seeing his native Finland win the world juniors resulting in a massive party in Helsinki. Now the Wild captain is looking forward to bringing that same kind of success to Minnesota, where they haven't been to the playoffs since 2008. (Star-Tribune)

SIGNING SEAN: The Philadelphia Flyers got what some considered a gift when Sean Couturier fell to them in the NHL Draft, a top-5 talent slipping to No. 8. On Wednesday they gave him a gift of their own, signing him to a three-year entry-level contract. (NHL.com)

YEARNING FOR THE OLD DAYS: One of the best parts about franchises taking a turn for the worst is the hilarity that can come from grieving fans. Returning to their successful days at the beginning of last decade, a couple of Senators fans channel their inner Backstreet Boys below. (Senators extra via Puck Daddy)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Step-back players: Can Columbus' Wiz keep it up?

By Brian Stubits

We see it over and over again in sports. Player has a career year, player gets a fat new contract with new team, said player fails to live up to the new deal.

After an offseason of numerous exorbitant contracts, this description will likely apply to plenty of players this upcoming year. That includes the guy who received the biggest bounty on the first day of free agency, James Wisniewski.

Signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets for a robust six-year, $33 million, Wisniewski is the second-highest paid player on an annual basis on a team that includes Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. That's a lot of coin for a player who has one season on his resume worthy of such. In his defense it was last season, so he picked a good time for his best season.

But surely you can see the red flags here. Wisniewski would appear to be a prime target for a step-back season. Now it's possible that last season was the Wiz actually stepping into his prime, after all he is 27 years old now, the magical age in all sports. But when a guy scores 21 more points in a season higher than his previous career high, it is only fair to wonder if it can be repeated. Such a jump indicates likelihood to regress to the mean a little bit.

Throw in the fact that Wisniewski is coming to a new environment, joining players he has never played with before and in an organization that has not had much success to talk about and you have the making for much quieter year.

What could help Wisniewski replicate his 51 points from a season ago with the Canadiens would be getting a lot of ice time, especially on the power play, with Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. Depending on how quickly they jell up front could impact Wisniewski's play and numbers. He'll certainly share the ice with the two high- scoring forwards a bit, but the more (probably) the better.

Now is as good a time as any to explain the rationale here, because it always gets misunderstood. This is no way to say that Wisniewski or any of the other players below will have bad years. That isn't the object one bit. It's simply players who might see a regression. Think of it this way: If a player is great and he regresses, he can still be very good. That fit Alexander Ovechkin last season, despite still being one of the best players in the league, it can't be argued he didn't have as strong a season last year. Now, on to the ...

Step-back candidates

Michael Grabner/Taylor Hall/Logan Couture/Jeff Skinner/Tyler Seguin/Brad Marchand: We're just throwing all of last season's top rookies into one category and labeling this one the "sophomore slump" group. Chances are one of them won't continue to blossom or match their rookie outputs. If I had to pick one, it would be Grabner of the Islanders.

Teemu Selanne, Ducks: The guy is a wonder, recording more than a point per game last season with the Ducks at 40 years old. But his offseason knee surgery and subsequent wait to see if he'd be ready to go (and advanced age) would seem to indicate a player who doesn't seem likely to keep up his pace. Just playing the odds on this one. Then again, we are talking about Selanne here.


Danny Briere, Flyers: Somebody is likely going to suffer a setback in Philadelphia with the absence of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, and Briere would be my best guess. He posted 34 goals and 34 assists last season, his highest point total in since 2007-08 and he's no spring chicken any more as he will turn 34 years old on the Flyers' opening day.


Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres: He is coming off a season where he posted 14 goals and 36 assists along with a plus-19. That in and of itself is tough to repeat. My colleague Adam Gretz wrote about the prospect of replacing Ehrhoff in Vancouver, noting that he was a bit protected. Now he will still be surrounded by a very good team in Buffalo, but it's looking like he will be paired with Jordan Leopold, the second defensive pairing behind Tyler Myers and Robyn Regehr. It's going to be very tough to replicate his excellent last two seasons.


Michal Neuvirth, Capitals: This is the gamble the Caps are taking by bringing in Tomas Vokoun. Neuvirth was very solid last season, posting a 27-12-4 record with a 2.45 GAA and .914 save percentage. They are risking him taking a step back in his growth as a player by relegating him to backup minutes, not to mention the possibility of a hit to the psyche of bringing in another goaltender and naming him the starter soon after the acquisition.


Sean Bergenheim, Panthers: He had the best season of his career with the Lightning a season ago, scoring 14 goals and 15 assists through 80 regular-season games. Where he drew plenty of attention for himself, though, was in the playoffs when he had nine goals for the Bolts. Coming up with the Islanders there had been plenty of hope and potential for Bergenheim, so perhaps he's just starting to break out. I'm expecting a point total in the low 20s, like his numbers in the days on the Island.


NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 9:54 am
 

Daily Skate: Leafs, Sens jersey leak; Semin talks

By Brian Stubits

SWEATER SLIP: Thanks to an error by Reebok, the Buffalo Sabres unknowingly revealed the third jerseys for the Senators and Maple Leafs this season in their team shop and icethetics got ahold of them. So, what do you think of the alternates?

SEMIN RESPONDS: Alexander Semin took an offseason hit from former teammate and current Florida Panthers forward Matt Bradley that included the comment that Semin doesn't care. The Russian forward talked to Puck Daddy about the perceptions, shrugging them off.

ALWAYS TWEAKING: The Boston Bruins just won the Stanley Cup and return almost the entire team that earned it. You might think that would to a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, but Claude Julien apparently prefers the "if you aren't getting better you're getting worse" school of thought. The idea? Getting the defenseman to close the gap with the forwards. Boston Globe.

LEARNING CURVE: Speaking of coaching systems, the Flyers are getting used to Peter Laviolette's in Philadelphia and Dave Isaac says they are picking it up fast. That's good, considering how little time there is to implement such a system, especially one foreign to a lot of the players.

DEEP THOUGHTS: When you look at the top two lines, the Toronto Maple Leafs don't have much problem competing with the top teams in the East. In fact, only the Flyers and Lightning had more goals from their top four forwards. But the Leafs are sorely lacking in the depth department. James Mirtle delves deeper in the Globe and Mail.

GETTING OVER THE HILLER: Jonas Hiller is anticipating returning to the ice this preseason after missing the second half of last season because of vertigo. Jon Rosen at Fox Sports West says the Ducks better hope Hiller comes back symptom free.

TRADE TALK: Cory Schneider will remain the most-discussed goaltender on the trade market until the day the Canucks either move him or Roberto Luongo. And they aren't moving Luongo any time soon. Andy Strickland looks at the ever persistent rumors for Schneider, which include Phoenix and Columbus.

BE THE THUNDER: The Tampa Bay Lightning began running with a new promotion last season and into the playoffs of "Be the bolt." Now they have added a theme song to go with it called Be the Thunder from the Florida Orchestra. Nothing says hockey quite like violins.

SALVADOR BACK: It has been almost 12 months since Bryce Salvador left a preseason game injured (inner-ear concussion), but on Friday he was cleared to practice and has been loving being back on the ice with his Devils teammates. Tom Gulitti at the Berger Record has mroe.

STARTING FRESH: Andrew Cogliano was a first-round talent, drafted by the Oilers in 2005. But only once in his seasons in Edmonton did he hit 40 points. But with an offseason trade to the Ducks, he is hopeful a fresh start will help him reach his potential as "a lot of it had to do with the mental side of the game" in Edmonton.

MIGRATING NORTH: The Washington Capitals are going to play the Nashville Predators in Baltimore for their first exhibition game of the preseason. CSN Baltimore talks about the re-emerging of hockey in Charm City.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 11:19 am
 

Daily Skate: Not even Crosby's doctors agree

By: Adam Gretz

MORE CROSBY CONFUSION It was announced on Friday that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, still recovering from a concussion, has been cleared to skate in non-contact drills. Helping to add to the confusion that's already out there regarding his comeback is that his medical team is apparently not on the same page. Ted Carrick, a chiropractor that has been observing Crosby for the past month, appeared on a Pittsburgh radio station (WDVE) on Friday and said that he's as ready for contact as any other player in the NHL, which would be the first time we've heard such a report, and one that seemingly goes against everything his other doctor, Michael Collins, as well as the Penguins team doctors are saying. Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review has more on the story.

OSHIE APPEARS IN TOP SHAPE St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie had an up-and-down season a year ago, going through a team-imposed two-game suspension following an unexcused absence. He was committed to making the team forget about all of it, and it seems that he is off to a good start, having appeared to Blues camp in great shape and acing the teams conditioning tests. Said Oshie, via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "I just wanted to prove to them after everything that happened that I've matured and have grown up." In 49 games last season he scored 12 goals to go with 22 assists.

DATSYUK'S SALEI TRIBUTE Pavel Datsyuk will be honoring his former teammate, Ruslan Salei, who was tragically killed in the plane crash involving the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, by wearing No. 24 during the preseason. That is the number Salei wore for most of his NHL career, including the 2010-11 season which he spent as a member of the Red Wings.

JAGR OPENS CAMP ON TOP LINE The top line at Flyers practice on Saturday featured Jaromir Jagr, Claude Giroux and James vanRiemsdyk. Jagr signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia this summer after playing the past three seasons in the KHL. Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and Jakub Voracek, acquired in the trade that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus, skated on the second line.

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
 

Chris Pronger named Flyers captain

ProngerBy: 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

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com