Monday, April 29, 2013

NEW NHL Draft Lottery Debute tonight

The new system for the NHL draft lottery to determine which team will receive the number one over all pick, debuted tonight.  The lottery included all of the 14 teams not headed to the Stanley Cup playoffs; the system does not guarantee the team with the worst record the number one pick instead it gives odds to each of the 14 teams based on the points they have at the close of the regular season.   As the regular season advances each teams chance diminishes as they earn more points. This ensures that no one team can throws the season in order to secure the first pick. Prior to this new system, only the 5 worst ranked teams were in the lottery and winning permitted the team to move up only four spots.  This new system parallel’s the NBA.  
Here are the teams, points and their odds at winning the lottery:
Florida Panthers
Colorado Avalanche
Tampa Bay Lightning
Nashville Predators
Carolina Hurricanes
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Buffalo Sabres
New Jersey Devils
Dallas Stars
Philadelphia Flyers
Phoenix Coyotes
Winnipeg Jets
Columbus Blue Jackets

Tonight the lottery was selected and here is the order of the 14 picks:
1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Florida Panthers
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Nashville Predators
5. Carolina Hurricanes
6. Calgary Flames
7. Edmonton Oilers
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. New Jersey Devils
10. Dallas Stars
11. Philadelphia Flyers
12. Phoenix Coyotes
13. Winnipeg Jets
14. Columbus Blue Jackets

Pick 15-30 will be determined by the out come of the Stanley Cup playoffs, that starting tomorrow. All seven rounds of the draft will take place on June 30th at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.  During the NHL Entry Draft, teams will select the rights to amateur hockey players who meet league eligibility(North American players 18–20 years old and Europeans of all ages entering league for the first time, all others enter league as unrestricted free agents) .  Some teams have already exchanged picks via trade earlier this season and carried over from last season – this list is very long.

Players to watch during the NHL Entry Draft are: Seth Jones defenseman of the Portland Winterhawks, according the NHL scouting is the number 1 ranked North American skater followed by Halifax Mooseheads' forwards Nathan MacKinnon and my personal favorite Jonathan Drouin. The top ranked international players are: Aleksander Barkov of the Finnish Elite,  Valeri Nichushkin out of Russia and Elias Lindholm of the Swedish Elite League.

Flyers cap season with 2 final wins against Islanders and Senators

The Philadelphia Flyers, who have struggled all year, capped their season off with two wins in their final round against the New York Islanders Thursday and the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.  Although they are still not headed to the playoffs it was good to see a strong end for this team who has been plagued with numerous injuries.  This will be the first time since 2007 that the Flyers will not make the playoffs.  The New York Islanders and the Ottawa Senators have landed in the plays offs regardless of their late season losses to the Flyers.
During Thursday’s matchup against the New York Islanders, Danny Briere, who has been back on the ice recently after having a limited season due to a broken wrist and concussion, scored his 6th goal of the season.  Briere’s goal was met with a standing ovation from fans; this was his first goal in 20 games. Oliver Lauridsen edged out the Islanders to win the game, scoring his second NHL career goal late in the third period with a slap shot to clinch the win for the Flyers in their final home stand.  This is the first time in 11 games that the Islanders have not outshoot a team and with the loss to the Flyers (2-1), the playoff bound Islanders dropped to 8th place in the Conference.  This unexciting game gave two veterans, Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere a high note to end the season, possibly their last season as Flyers.
Final game for the Flyers on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, the Senators came into the first period dominating play, outshooting the Flyers 14-5 in the first period.  Jason Akeson picked up his first NHL career goal, as a result of some sloppy plays by the Senators.  Jacuk Vorecak made the winning score (2-1) for the Flyers, as they deprived the Senators of gaining any ground in the conference standings.  Steve Mason was in net for the Flyers and had 43 saves, Mason has had a great short season as a Flyers goaltender and the summer will tell if he was able to clinch the number one spot in the Flyers net. The Senators, who outshot their opponents in the last 5 games but only won 2 of those 5 games, continue to struggle offensively. The Ottawa Senators wrapped up their season on Sunday as they won 4-2 over the Boston Bruins in a very tense crucial game for both teams and clinched 7th spot in the Conference. 
The Flyers finish their season on a 4 game winning streak and as their regular season ends, the off season begins.  Hockey is a sport that never truly ends. The Flyers are expected to have a lot of changes during the off season; Briere and Bryzgalov are amongst some of the players rumored to be leaving the team this summer.  Since goaltender Mason’s debut with the Flyers on April 16th, Mason has been in net 4 times and the Flyers have won all of those games: against the New York Rangers, Caroline Hurricanes’, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators.  Mason’s future with the Flyers seems promising.  The Flyers, a team not expected to finish dead last in their conference will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Flyers put down the Bruins 5-2

With a laundry list of injured players that just keeps growing, the Philadelphia Flyers still managed to win last night against the playoff bound Boston Bruins.  Steve Mason was in the net for his first back-to-back game starts for the Flyers; Peter Laviolette has made some smart moves by giving ice time to the young players to see how they perform.  Kimmo Timonen has been added to the injured list along with the usual suspects who will miss the two remaining games of the season.  Andreas Lilja was recalled and will take the place of Timonen. Overall, the effort from both sides in last night’s game was outstanding. The Boston Bruins out shot the Flyers, due to the impressive effort by Mason, the Flyers were able to stay on top of this game the entire time.  Right off of puck drop the Flyers proved they came ready for a hockey game, claiming the lead early with a goal by Scott Hartnell.  Hartnell brought the pressure last night to the Bruins and has scored 8 goals for the season. Both teams charged the net all night but during the first period the Bruins out shot the Flyers 12-4 and the period ended tied at 1-1.
The two most amazing goals of the game came from Read and then 7 seconds later by Lauridsen in the second period.  Matt Read had some great stick work next to the net as he back handed and forehanded the puck into the net, reclaiming a lead for the Flyers 2-1. Then, seven seconds later, Oliver Lauridsen was the last Flyer to touch the puck as it was tipped in by Cara from the Bruins, which gave the Flyers a two goal lead (3-1).  There is no doubt that Lauridsen will have a great memory to go with his first goal in the NHL: he said, “A goal is a goal and in 20 years they are never going to ask how…”
Voracek continues to have a great season, claiming his 21st goal on a break away putting the Flyers at a three goal advantage 4-1. The Bruins finally able to answer the Flyers run away score by a goal but it was quickly muted by another goal from the Flyers.  Giroux and Gange teamed up to add another point to the Flyers board, reclaiming their three point lead for the game (5-2).
The Flyers have struggled all season but have been able to play through adversity tonight as they claim another win against the Boston Bruins. This win does not change much, the Flyers are not headed to the playoffs while the Bruins will be in the playoffs, and at most the Flyers denied the Bruins a confidence builder last night. Steve Mason, a unifying reason as to why the Flyers won this game, has astonishing goaltending skills and has come into his own in the Flyers net.  Testing out Mason in the net for consecutive games can only give a clue as to whom Laviolette may be thinking of for next season top goaltender. The Flyers will face off against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Finishing the Season Strong, Wayne Simmonds hat trick

Even though they are not play off contenders the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes’ gave it their best efforts last night as they faced off for the third and final time this season.  The Flyers went for the season sweep, winning all three matchups, making this the 13th consecutive time the Flyers have won the season series against Carolina.  The Flyers arrived ready to win as they determinedly took shots on net.  The Flyers were out playing the Hurricanes’ early in the game and they continued their performance into the second period as Wayne Simmonds claimed back-to-back goals only 7 minutes apart. Over the first 2 periods the Flyers had taken 30 shots on goal, with only a score of 3-2 to show for their efforts.  A resilient team but seemingly always a day late and a dollar short, the Flyers were able to celebrate some outstanding achievements during the game last night: Jakub Voracek scored his 20th goal in 44 games and Wayne Simmonds celebrated his 1st hat trick that came in the 3rd period.  Simmonds clinched a 4-2 lead for the Flyers and with a good portion of the period left to play it was reassuring to see the Flyers continue to play the full 60 minutes.  The Hurricanes’ challenged the Flyers edging closer and making the game competitive but the Flyers were able to take home a win, 5-3.
Regardless of not being eligible for play offs, there is still hockey to be played and last night the Flyers did not give up. Voracek has had a break out season, scoring 20 goals in 44 games and it’s only a shame that there won’t be many more games for him this season. Wayne Simmonds has 14 goals for the season and last night he played with a sense of urgency and determination.  Nicely done Simmonds. Steve Mason has been a great addition to the team, with his fresh start the young goaltender appears to be thriving.  Already starting in the net for the Flyers, Mason has a strong glove hand and great control of the puck and it would be nice to see him start in back-to-back games before the season ends.  For a team with not much to play for other then pride they appear to be coming through, the question still remains: where have they been all season? Another question: who is to blame for the poor performance?  With playoffs not in the equation for this team Laviolette has many young players to develop and during these last games he has the opportunity to give them a lot of ice time. As the Flyers work to achieve what ever realistic goals they have left, there are only three games left until they hang up their skates for the season.