Friday, April 18, 2014

Philadelphia Flyers fall way behind New York Rangers in Game 1

With a fresh opportunity for new beginnings, the Philadelphia Flyers took the ice last night in Madison Square Garden. Although, they were already starting Game 1 playing their back-up goaltender, a hopeful team stood tall during an evenly matched first period. But that’s where the good news ends. After a tied first period they lost momentum in the second.  The nail in the coffin came from a penalty taken by Jason Akeson, which gave the New York Rangers a perfect opening and go ahead to score 2 goals during their power play.   The Rangers pulled away with the lead during the third period and the Flyers did not have the discipline nor the control to be able to catch them.

Game 1 for the Flyers was not too horrible. Minus the Akeson mishap, turn overs and lack of puck control, the Flyers showed some promise during the first period. In the coming games the Flyers will need to make a conscious effort to stay out of the penalty box. The Rangers’ power play may only be 15th in the league but there is a lot of talent out there on the ice and the Rangers were able to beat the Flyers last night. Serving a whopping 1,180 minutes in the penalty box during the regular season, the Flyers generally have a hard time staying out of the box, so when they are shorthanded they will be looking to Mason-Emery to come up big in net and the dynamic duo of Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

Claude Giroux is the backbone of the Flyers and there wasn’t much of a performance from him last night. Now that they have Game 1 under their belt G needs to come out big. As soon as he brings the energy and the momentum the team will do likewise.

One of the biggest challenges between the Flyers and a goal is the Gold medal goaltender blocking their shots: King Henrik, a consistent and confident goaltender who has gone 8-0-0 against the Flyers at Mason Square Garden. The Flyers will need to break that wall down and beat him in order to stay alive during the post-season. Lundquist is good and the Flyers will have to do their best to break down his confidence.

Last night, the goaltender in net would not have changed the outcome of the game for the Flyers. But, Steven Mason is magic and could have had a big influence. Mas has reclaimed his career this season, with a team that has been known as “where goaltenders come to die” I have complete confidence in Mas and it is unfortunate that he is out right now, but we have a veteran backup who brings playoff experience and all hope is with him now until Mas is healthy.

Now that everyone is off to the races, the Flyers will need to come back in a big was during Game 2. If the Flyers can’t perform better and they revisit their start from the regular season, they are in for a short post-season. Cross your fingers!! See you on Sunday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Final notes from the 2013-14 regular season: Philadelphia Flyers

Over the final days, hockey fans have relished in the additional minutes of free hockey as the regular season concludes. In several games that I have watched over the last few days, teams like: the Flyers, Avalanche and others have gone into exhilarating overtimes during this regular season that ‘just won’t quit’, as a hockey analyst proclaimed this weekend. Several of these passionate final games were deemed of less importance and would not affect the playoff standings, but the players proved that no one likes to lose, as they vehemently took the ice and gave everyone a preview of the playoffs.

The Philadelphia Flyers have astonishingly made the playoffs and are now prepping for their postseason. But, this is not a surprise to everyone.  Their fearless leader, Captain Claude Giroux never lost sight of their end goal, as he made this audacious claim in late October: ‘We will make the playoffs’. At the time the Flyers sat at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, at the bottom of the league with their top scorers not performing, they had tallied a low 11 points and their record was 1-7-0. An epidemic early in the season were coaching changes and the Flyers were not immune, as they dropped three games they also said good-bye to Coach Peter Laviolette and Assistant Coach Craig Breube got a promotion. Just 6 days into a 195 day season, the immediate outcome was not overwhelming success, it took some time to turn the season around and it took 15 games for Giroux to net his first goal of the season.  The critics were brash but Giroux proved why he wears the C on his chest and he took his team to the top, after all the only direction the Flyers had to go was up.

Now the Flyers start fresh in the postseason, facing the New York Rangers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. After overcoming a season of adversity the comeback kids have had the final say and they will be taking that energy into the post-season. On Thursday we are looking at a familiar lineup from a Flyers team that has remained fairly healthy all season long.  Zac Rinaldo will be back from his 4-game suspension and Steve Mason who left after a 2nd period mishap in the Flyers game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday will be playoff ready.  [Edit: Mason will be side-lined for Game 1 and Emery will start in Goal] The Mason-Emery tandem goalie team is a recipe for success and with a healthy team everyone is focused going into Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Reflections on the regular season from my point of view: While I saw signs of Peter Laviolette’s early departure from the team, I do not think that it was completely necessary. Craig Berube stepped up and was able to make effective line changes all season long that padded the success of the team. But, I think the foundation for success was always in the locker room and once the Flyers figured it out and wanted it enough the momentum turned around. I could have never endorsed Giroux’s early season claims that they were headed to the playoffs as they sat at the bottom of the league. First because it was too early to tell and second because I thought that he was just doing his job, it would have never been right for him to be less than encouraging, motivated and optimist of his team. All in all, the Flyers have laid out some lessons for us to learn from this season: Lesson 1 Never get in a fight with a Boxer, Lesson 2 Keep your eye on the prize, Lesson 3 When you work together you can win. At the end of the day hockey brings communities and families together, even despite rivalries. Young athletes are looking up to these NHL players and I think that through a few bumps the Flyers set a great example this season.

I will be at my favorite bar with my Dad on Thursday, proudly wearing my Flyers shirt, downing some beer and eating wings as I celebrate the post season.  Win or lose I couldn’t be more proud of the athleticism, sportsmanship and motivation of this Flyers team this season.

For the 2013-14 regular season this is The Amateur Fan signing off. Welcome to the postseason.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big win last night for the Philadelphia Flyers over the Buffalo Sabres

The Philadelphia Flyers were able to hold off the Buffalo Sabres long enough to notch a win last night. The Sabres sit in the 8th seed of the Atlantic division.  After a four game losing streak for the Flyers, line changes by Head Coach Craig Berube had positive effects on team chemistry and were the major contributors to the win.

Steve Mason had a confidence boost last night as the Flyers seemingly aim their sights towards the playoffs.  Recently a weak link for the Flyers, although he has been great in goal all season, there is no guarantee Mason will start in goal for the remaining games. With four games left we might see an appearance by Ray Emery to give Mason a rest before the playoffs.

Zac Rinaldo sniped his second goal of the season but minutes later left the game on a penalty that will also bench him for the rest of the regular season.  Now that Rinaldo has received a 4 game suspension could all that positive chemistry change? Every time Rinaldo steps on the ice the energy changes.  He finishes checks, applies pressure and is an integral part of the team. It is very unfortunate that such a suspension happened at this time in the season, especially since Rinaldo has been playing so well. Hopefully this lets him rest up for playoffs and puts him in a great frame of mind.

Although the Flyers did not play a perfect game last night they did claim those very important points that are keeping them mere steps in front of the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets have launched themselves up in the standings and they are knocking at the door, looking to edge the Flyers out of their playoff spot. With one wrong move the Flyers could slip out of their playoff spot. In the coming days I think the Blue Jackets will split wins and losses during their last games and the Flyers need to win 2 out of their last 4 games to stay ahead. 

I think the playoffs look very promising for the Flyers but just as they work to claim that official spot in the coming days the real work begins.  They will need to apply the pressure, get pucks deep and never let up during the playoffs.  A more consistent competitive edge that we haven’t seen the Flyers have on a steady basis all season. If they can figure it out, there may be hope for a playoff run but more than likely enjoy the first few games and a slightly extended season for the Flyers this year. Only time will tell how the end of the regular season will shake out, with everyone’s eyes on the playoffs we could still be in for a surprise in the very competitive Metropolitan division.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Philadelphia Flyers: Headed to the playoffs or not?

An improvement from the beginning of this season, the Philadelphia Flyers have come a long way from the bottom of their division. But it may not be enough, as the Flyers struggle to keep their head above water and in the 3rd seed of the Metropolitan division. The Philadelphia Flyers continue to fall short as they push towards the playoffs.

Facing fierce competition leading up to the playoffs, the Flyers lack the competitive edge that Stanley cup contending teams possess. Although the fairly healthy team has been playing well, their recent loses have left them slip to 3rd seed.  As they sit only a few points above the Blue Jackets and Capitals, they have a bulls-eye on their back to be knocked out of a playoff seat.

With only 11 days left in the regular season the Flyers have 7 games remaining and will need to start consistently winning in order to stay in a playoff spot. Although every game is anyone’s game to win, even if the Flyers manage to stay alive long enough to make it into the playoffs they will only be around for a round or two, at most. I do not expect that the Flyers can compete with those teams like the Kings, Avalanche, etc. that will be around to play for the cup.

This season started off shaky, with fans fearful of the Flyers sitting at the bottom of the division with a Captain that could not score. Thankfully that changed and the Flyers surged into the top of the division bouncing between 2nd and 3rd seed. With more promise than last season the Flyers appear to be headed to the playoffs but building the team back up to become Stanley cup champions could be a few seasons out, as they will face the fierce competition from the west.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Race to the finish line: Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers are bulldozing their way through the remainder of their season, kicking butt and taking names as they’ve toped two hot teams in the past few days. Beating their cross state rivals twice in home-and-home games over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead the Metropolitan Division. Also last night, clinching the W over the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. With only 4 weeks left in the season are the orange and black going to ride this winning streak right into the playoffs?

The Flyers tend to plateau right when things are going well. Whether from nerves or over confidence the Flyers are bound to have a disjointed game in the coming weeks as they face off against some though competition. There is no one formula to use against every team but if they can keep their opponents at an arm’s length like they did last night, it’s going to be challenging to get scored on. A lot of credit goes to Laperriere who has crafted a solid penalty kill team. For a team like the Flyers who at times take questionable penalties, a strong pk unit is going to benefit them in the long run.

If the Flyers are looking for a strong push into the playoffs they are going to have to perform a lot like they have been in the last three games. Last night Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said,” They did all the little things they needed to do to win the game. If you ask me, they deserve to win it – and we didn’t.”

With the Metropolitan division’s ever fluid standings, the Flyers have been able to hold onto 2nd place but they have the Rangers, Blue Jackets, Capitals and Devils nipping at their heels. With one misstep Claude Giroux and company could be watching another post season from their couches. 

The Flyers have not been able separate themselves from the pack this season which makes every point important.  Every day is a new challenge and every game is a big game. The Flyers are going to have to continue consistently doing all the little things that add up to the BIG wins if they want to continue on this up swing. As for the next 4 weeks, I do not think that the Flyers are going to give us a perfect finish but I think they will land in 3rd seed in the Metropolitan division, which is just good enough to head to the post season.  There is always that chance they totally fall to the bottom of the pack since this division is so close. There is no time to lose or take their foot off the gas as they race to the finish line.

Friday, January 31, 2014

My Three Favorite Things of this Week

We may know why Alex Ovechkin did not participate in the Capitals optional skate in Columbus on Wednesday. It appears that he and some teammate were too busy playing ball hockey in the lockerroom. That right! Ovi dressed in Michal Neuvirth's new pads in a game of locker room ball hockey. But, this was not the first time that Ovi dawned the goaltending gear. The last time he suited up he was defending the Caps net in practice with make-a-wish kid Sam Jacobson.

As the 2014 Sochi Olympics draw near there have been tons of announcements; from team rosters to team Captains but my most favorite has been hockey equipment of the Sochi Olympics. Bauer fans listen up! Back in December the hockey equipment manufacture Bauer introduced "OD1N". This new high-tech line of equipment will outfit a few elite hockey players at the winter games. Bauer was able to lighten the skates, protective gear and the goalie equipment by one-third. Through a combination of tech-friendly composite materials, compression-molded foam and 3D optical scanning to personalize the equipment these six players wear has been compared to the outfits of superhero's. Keep your eye open for these players at the 2014 Sochi Olympics to check out the equipment: Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks/Team Canada), Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks/Team USA), Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals/Team Sweden, Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals/Team Russia, Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers/Team Canada) and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers/Team Sweden).

Last but not least my favorite Philadelphia Flyer Zac Rinaldo returned to the Flyers bench on Thursday after being out for 10 games with a high-ankle sprain. Rinaldo always brings high energy, head coach Craig Berube is looking for him to watch his hitting, being such a powerful player he ends up in the penalty box far too often. Rinaldo began the night on Thursday with 101 penalty minutes and a minus 12 rating. Rinaldo has been looking good all season and his biggest down fall is his lack of discipline that comes at the most in opportune times. The time out of the game for Rinaldo apparently gave him time to reflect and he came back knowing what he had to do and focused. Glad to have Rinaldo back on the ice, even if he's stirring the pot.


Friday, January 17, 2014

My Three Favorite things this week

Check out my three favorite things from this week:

The Washington Capitals are taking fan experience to the next level with Google Glass. By now everyone has heard of the new technology but how would your experience be enhanced if you could be hands free but still hooked into your device? The Capitals will be the first pro team to launch Skybox Google Glass coming soon to the Washington Capitals home games.

  Check out what happened at the San Jose Sharks v. Washington Capitals game on January 14th right off of the face-off during the first period between Mike Brown and Aaron Valpatti. These boys kept the fists flying as they made contact with each other over and over again. A good old fashion beating, that ended in blood soaked jerseys. These boys get NHL best fight of the week. Pulling heart strings all over the world Children’s wish recipient Braden Nienaber tossed out Buffalo Sabres captain Steve Ott from the ceremonial puck drop. This is what hockey is all about, check out this super cute clip:
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