Saturday, November 8, 2014

Flyers win by the skin of their teeth against Avs

The Flyers took a commanding 4-goal lead after a 5 minute penalty to the Avalanche late in the 1st period. Throughout the 1st and 2nd period the Flyers kept the Avs chasing a fast paced game, where they dominate, pushed the pace and exhibited outstanding puck control. But, the Flyers left enough space for the Avs to mount an impressive come back during the 3rd period, forcing the Flyers to bare down and Steve Mason to come up with important saves. The Flyers killed off a huge 6 on 4 power play in the last moments of the game to notch the 4-3 win.

Three Stars of the game: Steve Mason, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds

Steve Mason has come back into the net with refreshed confidence and stands tall as the Flyers starting goaltender. The win tonight largely laid upon his shoulders as managed to keep the puck out of the net during the last seconds of the game to notch the win for the Flyers. Claude Giroux had his first multi-goal game and sniped a beautiful goal in the first period, which earned him a star. This was Wayne Simmonds first game on the top-line and he was a perfect fit, contributing to the win.

The Flyers are approaching the season with different style, which could explain the slow start they got to the season. But now in full swing, they are exhibiting a great power play and penalty kill, areas in which they have struggled in the past.

It was great to see the Flyers come out of the gate strong for 40 minutes tonight but they can’t sit back and stop skating once they grab a lead. The most notorious instigators for the Flyers, Zac Rinaldo, showing restraint and not taking untimely penalties forcing extra work for the specialty teams is a welcomed change. Thankfully, it is still early enough in the season for the Flyers to completely change momentum and make their early season loses a distant memory.

Looking ahead, the Flyers will take a 5 day break and face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Philadelphia Flyers win over LA Kings

The Philadelphia Flyers showed up and showed out last night against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the LA Kings. A few keys to the game last night was Ray Emery’s outstanding performance in goal and the strategic/physical play the Flyers exhibited.

Although the Flyers took some time to get their feet underneath of them this season, they are making smarter plays and fewer of those frustrating/poorly timed penalties.   Compared to last season’s start the Flyers are doing extremely well and assuming that their awkward adjustment period has passed, they have taken to Head Coach Craig Berube’s guidance and the team seems to finally be clicking.  

The fact that Philadelphia finally has a great goaltending tandem deserves a moment of silence. Steve Mason has been great for the Flyers, no doubt will continue to be great and keep his starting goaltender position.  It’s a relief that their backup goaltender is outstanding in goal as well and the Flyers couldn’t ask for a better back-up, who knows his job description and supports the team. Emery only makes Mason stronger.

Last night the Flyers gave us a glimpse of how dangerous they can be when they play a smarter and harder full 60 minute game. Is this the start of something new? I sure hope so, as the Flyers have been progressively getting better. They wrap up this challenging month of October and look to build more momentum.  The Flyers have finally linked together 3 wins and are looking for more, as they take their show on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning this Thursday.
Will the Flyers keep up their fast and stronger style of play, or were they just putting on a show for the LA Kings?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, NO SURPRISE!!!

After a devastating loss to the Chicago Blackhawks yesterday, the Philadelphia Flyers went up against their cross-state rivals, Pittsburgh Penguins.  This is a team that the Flyers can beat. No matter what the record, the Flyers always seem to play off the emotions, capitalize on mistakes and come out with the W.

After a shaky first period the Flyers took advantage of the opportunities. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their strong hold and underestimated the Flyers, whose record was 1-3-2. And, the Flyers made it anything but an easy game for the Penguins as they battled for the win.

Now 2-3-2, the Flyers desperately need to link together some wins. Throwback to last year October 7, 2013 when the Flyers had the worst start to their season in franchise history, head coach Peter Laviolette was relieved of his coaching duties just 3 games into the season when they were 0-3. I don't think a shake up like that would help the team but it's not completely impossible if they don't turn their season around.

Positive take away from this game was the players that were scoring. It wasn't so much the top line but the rest of the team stepping up to the plate and bringing home the win, which is what was missing during the first few games of the season.

All-in-all, I don't really believe that this game was that "all important game" that will drive them to build off and create a great season. I think that they need to play against every team as if they are the Pittsburgh Penguins because that seems to be the only motivator for them to play close to a 60 min game. On paper the Penguins should have been more than capable of handling the Flyers but the Flyers win game after game against the Pens when the odds are not in their favor.

Where do we go from here?  The Flyers have a lot to build from, they have a lot of great aspects to their game but they are still looking to get their first back-to-back win of the season. Their next two games will be challenging and this is where they will show what kind of team they will be this season. On Saturday they will face the Detroit Red Wings followed by the defending Stanley Cup champions on Tuesday. Beat one or both of those teams and that is what I will call "sending a message"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Philadelphia Flyers: Optomistic but still not winning

Not the start to the season that the Flyers had in mind, but they have offered a few glimpses at the type of hockey they hope to play all season. It’s too soon to press the panic buttons just yet, with a long season ahead, but it is feeling slightly reminiscent of last season’s losing streak.

Time and time again one player often shoulders the burden for the Flyers, right now it is Wayne Simmonds with substantial contributions from Claude Giroux, Mark Streit and Jakub Vorack. The individual contributions are great and as soon as they link everyone together in a team effort they could add some confidence with a win.  The Flyers need to harness their energy and control the ice.

The Ducks have a knack for slowing down plays and controlling the pace of the game. The Ducks held that strong hold until the Flyers came back to play hockey during the 2nd period. There is no time like the present for the Flyers to elevate their game and notch the wins.

The Flyers have several opportunities to build off of in order to begin playing the season the way that they want to: Their top-line is contributing, they notched quality shots on goal and they have a good power play.

Meanwhile, the Flyers are 0-2-2 and are up against a tough line up for the remainder of October. As they continue to struggle with their shoot out skills, it appears that no amount of practice can help that area of their game. But, the team remains positive and chases after the full 60 minute effort.
If you could offer one coaching tip to the team what would it be?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who came out on top in the Scott Hartnell trade?

As we continue to digest yesterday’s news from the Philadelphia Flyers on the trade of Scott Hartnell for R.J Umberger of the Columbus Blue Jackets, more clues are coming out on the thought process behind this trade. Ron Hextall, who had been groomed all season to take over as G.M finally assumed his role and is making an impact, with the goal of producing a Stanley Cup team just like he created in L.A. With Hextall at the reigns it seems odd that the Hartnell trade feels very Paul Holmgren reminiscent.

Claude Giroux was shocked Monday morning when he found out that Scott Hartnell was one of his former teammates. A move out of left field for the Flyers team, shocking even the captain. The trade was for R.J Umberger, a player with some similarities to Hartnell, those similarities include age, goals last season, cap hit and experience they could bring to a team. Where Hartnell excels above other players is his commitment to the community in which he plays, he is more active in the community than any other individual player, he has been a fan favorite and a face for the Flyers.

The Columbus Blue Jackets undoubtedly are very lucky to have such a great trade on their hands and they did not have to sacrifice much. R.J Umberger doesn’t draw as much fan base but he brings an element of speed and versatility that Hextall is looking for in a player. Umberger, a former Flyer, had asked the Blue Jackets for a trade because he had been a healthy scratch down the stretch 2014-14. All signs show that Umberger is actually skating the best of his career and we can look to Craig Breube playing his in several different positions this season.

With R.J Umberger also comes a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft which is expected to be deeper than the draft happening this weekend. Hextall’s plan seems to be focused towards the long term. He is going to clean up the team, put them in a great position for a few years from now and then win the Cup. He has the vision to take the team where it needs to go and he wants to create the cap flexibility to be able to do so.

My feelings about the trade: Thinking of it from a player stand point for a minute, both teams seemingly did not want the player that they had. On an individual basis this is great for them.  Hartnell is a great guy and his soul focus is on winning the Stanley Cup before his retires and the Blue Jackets are very motivated to do that, so I think this season we are going to see great things from Hartnell. The Blue Jackets have Hartnell in their winning plan and that is a perfect place for him to be. A player that is motivated by winning is the kind that you want on your team. On the other hand, Umberger was a healthy scratch for the stretch last season (2013-14) there is a reason behind that and GM Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets might have given a hint to that when he said:

“We had a player who didn't want to play here and had asked to be moved, so that was money on the sidelines for us. Now we've got a real good player (Hartnell) and we have clarity to the situation. We know what we look like heading into these next two weeks, which makes it easier to proceed."

So was he referring to Umberger. If so, all we can hope is that the move re-energizes Umberger to want to win with the Flyers. He is seemingly in the best shape of his career so hopefully he makes that kind of impact with the team.

From a Flyers stand point this is such a bad trade. They had one of their top guys, who is a face of the team, great attitude/motivated to win, respected and looked up to by his teammates, fully committed to the Flyers and Philadelphia and they just downgraded to Umberger. That’s the business side of the game but it’s just such a sad move on their part.  Hartnell was such an integral part of the team, they will not be able to find someone that can fill his skates on and off the ice. Hopefully the gamble on the 4th round pick in 2015 works out.

The Columbus Blue Jacket should be over the moon. I don’t think I am at all the bias when I make that statement. Hartnell has made the most of this situation and he is with a very motivated team.  He is bringing them valuable experience and leadership. He’s motivated and wants to win a cup before he retires and when Hartnell is motivated he gets things done. The Blue Jackets came out on top in this trade.

This trade rests on the shoulders of Ron Hextall. Everyone had been wondering if Hartnell had requested this move and that was just not the case at all. Hartnell loves Philly and even in being asked to move on he is still doing what is best for the Philadelphia Flyers. I am dreading the Hextall regime already and hoping for some kind of saving grace soon like resigning Ray Emery as back- up goaltender.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Surprise performance from the Flyers leads the series to Game 7

Much like their late start to the regular season, third period come backs and their last minute playoff push, the Philadelphia Flyers second wind has finally arrived. It is not too late and the momentum is welcomed in a series that will now be decided during Game 7.  The New York Rangers will take home ice in a game everyone has to win but only one team will be moving on tonight. Will we finally see some over time from this series?

 Last night, on home ice facing an elimination, the Flyers surprised everyone as they held as much as a 4 goal lead going into the third period. The Rangers started off the game dominating but by the end of 40 minutes looked disjointed and unorganized, they looked tired and were not playing as a team.  The difference of play between Game 5 and Game 6 was like night and day for both teams. After a very disappointing Game 5 that showed little promise for the Flyers, the comeback kids have risen and will take this series to Game 7.

 The Flyers have slowly regained their goal scorers. Claude Giroux netted his first goal during Game 5 and Wayne Simmonds made huge contributions in Game 6 with 3 goals. I think that when the top players are scoring for the Flyers it adds to their confidence, instead of building the frustration they get when they cannot find the back of the net. With Steve Mason's huge sprawling saves in goal the team is set to win Game 7 and move on. But, before we think about that let’s talk about what they have to do in Game 7: Keep it simple. Play the game. Exploit the Rangers weaknesses. Up until now the Rangers have been a solid competitor. Last night we saw a different side of the Rangers and with their confidence deflated the Flyers need to go into Madison Square Garden and dominate.

 Fingers crossed.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Game 4: The return of Steve Mason in time to tie the series at 2

The man, myth and legend returned to his rightful place in net tonight for Game 4 in Philadelphia.  Steve Mason had been out for two weeks, seemingly not missing a beat last night as he returned to block 37 shots and help tie the series.  Veteran Ray Emery had been holding it down and kept the Flyers alive in this series, while Mason was recovering.  Having their number one man back in goal gave the Flyers the added confidence that could now serve as their launching pad to win the series. The way that Mason defenses the net is outstanding, he has been able to reclaim his career probably largely in part to the veteran that has been backing him up all season.  Emery is largely important to the team as well but when it comes to incredible saves Mason is the guy that has shocked and awed us and has gotten the job done.

Looking forward to Game 5 in New York, the Flyers need to continue to build on the play that they exhibited during Game 4. During the playoffs they need to play better and better each game if they have their eye on advancing. I look forward to a line shuffle by Chief, his changes usually result in opportunities for their top guys to score goals. Speaking of their top scorers ,there has not been too much action from their top guys and all eyes are on Captain Claude Giroux waiting for a goal.  I think that Game 5 is when Giroux will notch a goal.

The Flyers have to keep it simple and stay patient on Sunday if they want to claim a win on the road. Mason has been a huge part of the teams wins all season and now that he is back in net he will be the reason that the Flyers are successful but they cannot only rest on him. All the elements need to be in place to make it past Round 1. In past games the Flyers seemed to try to spot correct some of their weaknesses instead of playing and even keeled game. The Flyers need to have everything working at once: good defense, puck control, great goaltending and keeping it simple for 60 minutes. They have yet to play a 60 minute game which is something they struggled with all season.

With Grossman’s future unclear, as he was taken out of the game with a lower body injury, there could be some additional changes coming to the line-up for Sunday. The big question is who should they put in for Grossman, I think that Hal Gill would be a great choice. Right now the Flyers have the momentum and if they play their game, they should be successful. Regardless of what is to come, the Flyers have a top of the line ace in goal for them and if they give him the space and the defense they could take it all the way. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Game 2: Flyers beat the Rangers to tie the series

After taking the detrimental penalty in Game 1 that doomed the Flyers to a defeat, Jason Akeson was a major part of the win last night during game 2.  Now officially a Flyers come back kid, he tied the game during the 2nd period and salvaged his reputation with the fans. Although the Rangers dominated in the beginning with classic puck control and a strong power play unit, the Flyers applied pressure and played the defense.

Leading from the top, the Flyers top line got in on the action, building up their team’s confidence. In the 1st period with a goal by the top line, Voracek helped built the momentum, as he notched the go ahead goal with the help of Giroux-Hartnell. Showing great defense, the Flyers went onto claim their first lead of the game and first win, tying the series.

The Flyers are most dangerous when they are determined to win, and Game 2 was everything that Game 1 should have been. I think that by getting their first play-off game under their belt and dealing with the initial jitters the veterans have been able to help calm the hungry team and focus in on their goals on a game by game basis. Last night the Flyers top line was performing, they were working together and hungry for the win. They exhibited some great defense and hopefully will build off of that in the coming days.

The take away from this game is that: The series is just getting started, the Flyers still need better puck control and less time in the box. As they claim their first road win during this series, hopefully they have rattled Henrik Lunquist enough to post more wins this week against the Rangers.  The Rangers are going to come hard on the fore-check, control the puck and dominate power play opportunities. By now, the Rangers are fairly consistent with how they play and the Flyers can use that to their advantage. The Flyers have ebbs and flows to their play and can rise up and surprise when they really are determined.

With Ray Emery posting a 50/50 split in the absence of Steve Mason should he continue to start in goal?   Potentially Mason is expected to be healthy enough to play on Tuesday and with a chance at a serious run at the Cup should they let Mason rest up for more challenging competitors to come. I think that Mason has been out of goal for long enough and if he is good to go he needs to get in on the action.  Too much rest is not a good thing, being in goal and blocking shots is going to be the best way for Mason to prepare for future games.

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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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't underestimate the Fly Boys

The Philadelphia Flyers have had a rocky start to the season, game after game they struggled to compete. But now in the New Year they are just flourishing. Their games are far from perfect and they still have a lot of work to do but when it comes down to the wire they have been coming up with the W time and time again. During the first half of the season it seemed as if the Flyers would fall to the bottom of the rankings and never really be heard from again. But, they have surged up through their division and have been holding on to 2nd place right above the New York Rangers/ Washington Capitals who are right on their heels.

The Flyers have little chance of catching up to the Pittsburgh Penguins who lead the division with 65 points while the Flyers sit at 50, the Rangers at 47 and Capitals at 46. But, the Flyers are slowly gaining confidence and raising their level of competition. The Penguins underestimated the Flyers earlier this season and the Flyers were able to beat them during a time when the Flyers weren’t able to string together wins. The Flyers are not a team that anyone should be underestimating, especially after last night’s performance where they broke their first period slump and took advantage of the first 20 minutes playing against the Montreal Canadiens.

Right now, half way through the season the Flyers are just figuring it out and I think that they will be able to take this surge straight into the playoffs. With Claude Giroux not making the cut for Canadian’s Olympic team he won’t have distractions to hold him back. A hand full of Flyers have been named to represent their respective countries at the Olympics this year: Jakub Voracek will represent the Czech Republic for the first time which will boost his performance upon return.  Mark Streit, an Olympic veteran will be gearing up for his 4th trip to represent Switzerland. Youngster Michael Raffl has been named to Austria’s Olympic team. And, last night we saw this Olympian notch an assist on every goal scored by the Flyers, Andrej Meszaros will be representing Slovakia.

The nearly 2 week break for the Olympics comes at a key time for the Flyers.  If they can continue their performance level, enjoy a break or a momentum boost for those competing in the Olympics, this could just add to how dangerous this team could become. It’s always a good feeling for a team when a D-man like Zac Rinaldo scores, he does his job well and scoring a goal last night was the cherry on top. The Flyers are not trying to become 1st in their division, all they have to do is get into the playoffs.  They have already beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, so if they can get in they have a realistic chance at the cup.

This team is not done surprising us. In the next few weeks they will be staying right above all of the competition. The key to their win last night was that they took advantage of the 1st period.  Often the Flyers have come onto the ice flat footed and blew the first period. But, their sloppiness could be their down fall, as seen last night when they had a few bad line changes which gave way to a goal for the Canadiens. The Flyers need to take the lead early, surge through a full 60 minute game and they will win time and time again. From the worst start in years to 2nd seeded in their division and a record 10 game winning streak at home, the Flyers are ones to watch.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Flyers skate into the New Year as a HOT team

After a great road trip through Canada served as their launching pad into the New Year, the Philadelphia Flyers have not been a disappointment. Seeded 2nd in the Metropolitan Division, this is a spot no one  but their fearless captain Claude Giroux would have put the Flyers in after their poor performance at the beginning of the season.  Giroux never lost faith in his team and that showed last night against the Phoenix Coyotes when he netted a security goal late in the 3rd period to win the game 5-3.  Finally they are looking like a team, learning how to win and even how to come back in the 3rd period.

“Chief took a timeout, gave us a little shit and since then we started to play better,” said Voracek.

A timely time out and a perfectly placed fight by Rosehill vs. Bissonnette gave the Flyers the momentum change that they needed to turn the game around. All the pieces began to come together for the team after the time out, a game that they started flat footed and a momentum change that they Flyers were able to grab onto and use to their advantage.


“We are learning how to win and we’re learning how to stay in games and we’re learning how to turn things around. When you do that you can steal points here and there and it was a big one for us. Good way to end the road trip,” said Rosehill.

The Flyers have catapulted themselves into the top 3 of the Metropolitan Division and everyone will be looking for them to stay there for the rest of the season bouncing between 2nd and 3rd place. Right now we could be looking at the 3 teams that will be heading to the post-season. The comeback performances that this Flyers team has demonstrated makes them look like a completely different team than the team on the ice earlier this season.  Hopefully, they can maintain this rhythm and steal more points. The Flyers will be facing another Metropolitan Division team on Tuesday, not far from home as they travel to New Jersey to play the Devils.  The Flyers need to come in ready and rested on Tuesday. They need to take control early on and keep their foot on the gas. It's a winnable game for the team if they keep the momentum going.

For more from Erica follow @TheAmateurFan on twitter



Thursday, January 2, 2014

NHL players say the darndest things on Twitter: New Year's 2014 edition

Lately I have been fascinated with what NHL players post on twitter during the holidays. So, early New Year’s morning as I scrolled through my twitter feed a few of those types of tweets caught my attention. A total of 11 games were played in the NHL on New Year’s Eve and whether winner or loser, it was New Year’s Eve and time to ring in 2014. I don’t follow many players so I did some investigation and found the best tweets from some of the more active social media aficionado’s.

Philadelphia Flyers, were winners and Jakub Voracek (@jachobe) had some strong thoughts to share after they extended their winning streak to three while on their road trip. It’s no secret that the Flyers started off with a pretty poor season but they have been able to turn it around.  It’s been a miracle and they have now clinched the 3rd seed in the Metropolitan division, only 2 points ahead on the competition.  These were the only thoughts he shared on New Year’s Eve, I hope the #hugewin helped him have a great night!

Next I bring you Erik Karlsson (@ErikKarlsson65). The Ottawa Senators did not play on New Year’s Eve, they played on New Year’s Eve eve and they won. That win did not seem to influence Karlsson’s tweet of “Fuck 2013” which he has since deleted from a little tweet remorse. After making it to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs earlier in 2013, the Senators now sit in 6th seed of the Atlantic division and are 10 points out of a spot in the playoffs. Karlsson has also struggled with long term injuries, only a few guesses on why his 2013 sucked so much. Hope this guy has a better 2014!
Bryan Bickell (@bbicks29), left winger for the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks has had a great 2013. A key player on the Blackhawks team, his strong play helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup in June. Bickell registered 17 points and 9 goals, including the game- tying goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Bickell re-signed a 4 year contract with the Blackhawks for $16 million. The Blackhawks won their last game before the New Year and are at the top of the Central Division and looks like they will be headed to the play offs again in 2014. If that wasn’t enough to make his 2013 an amazing year, Bickell wed his longtime girlfriend Amanda Caskenette in August. All that being said, his tweet is on point:

Teammate Andrew Shaw (@shwa5er), also still beaming from the Stanley Cup win and the Blackhawks continued success in 2013 echoed Bickell on New Years day with a tweet:
Matt Kassian (@kassassination) must be a very optimistic guy or just a great sense of humor from the sound of his twitter handle. Also a member of the Ottawa Senators, Kassian’s New Year’s Eve tweets were positive, he was maybe even making fun of himself a little but savoring some last minute 2013 goals. He was definitely picking on a not so happy Erik Karlsson a little who debuted in the background of his New Year’s Eve photo.

As several teams were playing on New Year's Eve, the Phoenix Coyotoes (@phoenixcoyotes) tweeted Happy New Year's post win with a photo of the team and fans celebrating.
In transit during the biggest party of the year, these St. Louis Blues players were not going to let New Year's Eve pass without celebration. Ian Cole (@ICole28) tweeted a photo from his airplane seat with a teammate.
Funny man TJ Oshie (@OSH74) has a lot to look forward to in 2014.  Recently posting a photo of his girl getting a "Christmas Utlrasound" and being named to the US Olympic team on New Years day, 2014 will be filled with excitement for him.
Definitely give this active guy a follow on twitter. The self acclaimed on-ice assailant, power play specialist and minister of moustachery: George Parros (@GeorgeParros) appeared a little down in the dumps in this picture he posted to twitter after the Montreal Canadiens lost their New Year's Eve game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

There were several tweets about two other events on New Year's day. One was the Outdoor Winter Classic in Michigan, where the Toronto Maple Leafs faced the Detroit Red Wings. Following the game the 2014 U.S Olympic Hockey team was announced. To see more tweets from your favorite hockey players visit:
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