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Old 10-06-2007, 01:26 PM   #76
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Default Flyers' strategy pays off early on

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As starts go, they couldn't have scripted it any better.

The Philadelphia Flyers, statistically the worst team in the NHL last season, went on the road to play the team that won more home games than anybody else a year ago (Calgary Flames) and squeezed out a 3-2 opening-night win, thanks to a late goal by the $52 million-dollar man, Daniel Briere. The Flyers got ahead early but were hanging on the ropes when they took advantage of a miscue/bad bounce to score the winner, Simon Gagne to Briere, who demonstrated again that he is one of the most opportunistic finishers in the league right now.

Just about everybody believes the Flyers can rebound from last year's disaster to some degree this season, as a result of an impressive overhaul orchestrated by general manager Paul Holmgren over the past six months.

Holmgren created what may be the new template for rebuilding in the salary-cap era: If you're going to be bad, it's better to be really, really bad - rather than forever try to hang around the cusp of the playoff race, never really getting good enough to compete for a championship, but never really getting bad enough to prevent your die-hard fans from praying for a miracle.

Now, employing a scorched-earth strategy generally comes with a price - and last year, two men (coach Ken Hitchcock and GM Bobby Clarke) paid the price in Philly. After a 1-6-1 start, the Flyers fired Hitchcock while Clarke resigned, citing burnout. John Stevens was promoted from the minors to run the team; Holmgren received the manager's post on an interim basis, or until it quickly became clear that he had the smarts and the vision to handle the job on a full-time basis.

Holmgren's greatest achievement was not being afraid to fail in a splashy, eye-catching way. There was nothing to salvage about last year's Flyers anyway, and so sentiment did not enter into any of his decisions. Even though Peter Forsberg wanted to stay, he was traded him away. Even though Joni Pitkanen was the sort of young highly drafted player that teams are loath to part with, they moved him anyway. Anybody looking for an asset to help for the stretch run found a willing listener in Holmgren, which is how he came to land Braydon Coburn, a 6-foot-5 defenceman from the Atlanta Thrashers organization (and the second rearguard taken in the 2003 entry draft, just behind Ryan Suter and just ahead of Dion Phaneuf) in exchange for Alexei Zhitnik. Coburn is 22, with a big upside (he's playing at the moment with 6-4 Derian Hatcher on the Flyers' No. 1 shutdown defence pair). Zhitnik is 35 and nearing the end of the line.

The net result was that Holmgren opened up some salary-cap space for his team, stockpiled other attractive young assets (Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent) and then aggressively began the process of making the Flyers better, even before the free-agency window opened on July 1.

Consider for example that he parted with only a second-round draft choice to land goaltender Martin Biron from the Buffalo Sabres. It seemed like an odd deal at the time because Biron was destined to become an unrestricted free agent in a few months anyway. But by bringing in Biron for 16 appearances, they got the inside track on signing him and received an up-close-and-personal chance to evaluate whether he had the right stuff to be a No. 1 goaltender, at a fairly modest price.

Compare that to what the Toronto Maple Leafs surrendered the past two seasons to land, first Andrew Raycroft (giving up top Finnish prospect Tuuka Rask, a former first-rounder) and then Vesa Toskala (first- second- and fourth-round draft choices to the San Jose Sharks). Do either Raycroft or Toskala represent significantly better net-minding options than Biron at the moment? Probably not.

None are in the absolute first tier of NHL goaltenders; all can get the job done. The only real difference is that Philadelphia's acquisition costs were significantly lower. Biron's presence on their roster (plus a big pile of cash) helped them lure Briere, a former Sabres' teammate and close friend, to the City of Brotherly Love. Briere, Kimmo Timmonen and Jason Smith — all newcomers to the Flyers this season — captained the Sabres, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers last season, meaning the Flyers also upgraded their leadership quotient at the same time as they improved their on-ice personnel.

The Flyers took their lumps in the short term by plunging to the bottom of the NHL standings — something that also gave them a chance to draft James vanRiemsdyk second overall in June's entry draft — and have reversed field nicely. Their opening-night roster featured five former first-round picks age 25 or under (Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Joffrey Lupul, Scott Hartnell and Coburn), plus two others on injured reserve (Upshall and R.J. Umberger), not to mention blue-chippers vanRiesmsdyk and Parent, plus the love-him-or-hate-him pest Steve Downie.

Sadly, the Leafs fall into the other category — of a team that perennially tries so hard to compete in the here-and-now that they are forever caught in between, with never enough assets to legitimately challenge for a championship, but never really bad enough to draft blue-chip youngsters or bold enough to trade "untouchable" core players. What if, the year the Leafs were destined to miss the playoffs coming out of the lockout, they'd moved — among other assets - Bryan McCabe, Mats Sundin and Ed Belfour at the deadline? Could they have gotten a Zhitnik-like package for McCabe (remember, he didn't sign that five-year contract extension until June of 2006; so he wasn't considered an overprice property at that time). Could they have gotten a Peter Forsberg-like package for Mats Sundin? And could Belfour, who was in the midst of his last good season for the Leafs, have produced something akin to what the Minnesota Wild received from Edmonton for Dwayne Roloson.

Naturally, we'll never know now. But if the Leafs had conducted a player purge in the spring of 2006, they would have been in a position to land Chris Pronger out of Edmonton (provided Mrs. Pronger gave the thumbs-up to a move to Toronto). They would have had the extra salary-cap room to wade into the free-agent market (instead of tying up all those dollars in McCabe). And if Pronger had landed there, they probably wouldn't have needed to overpay Pavel Kubina either. In short, it would be a far different look in Leaf-land which, given the current state of organization, probably wouldn't be such a bad thing.

The Flyers aren't all the way back by any means, but there's a palpable sense of excitement around the team, brought on in equal parts by fresh blood, an aggressive management team, and a deep-seated conviction that extended mediocrity is perhaps the worst sin that a team can visit on its fan base — and that it is far better off to hit rock bottom and then yo-yo up again as opposed to flat-lining somewhere in the middle.

The Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont used to describe the Hartford Whalers that way before they moved to Carolina. He called them 'the forever .500s' — a team destined to get just so good, but never any better, making the playoffs six years in a row and bowing out in the first round every time. All that changed, when the franchise shifted south. Now, the Hurricanes are the poster boys for wild dizzying swings in the standings: three years out of the playoffs along with two trips to the Stanley Cup final and one championship over the past five seasons. Probably just about anyone who supports the Leafs would consider that crazy up-and-down pattern as a trade-off well worth accepting if it actually put an end to that 40-year Stanley Cup drought.

JUST DUCKY: Put the Anaheim Ducks in the same boat as Carolina.

They've missed the playoffs in four of the past seven years, but in the other three, qualified for the Stanley Cup final twice (winning last year) and the conference final the other year. Carolina lost its opener to the Montreal Canadiens, a team they play three times in the first month and with whom they've developed something of a rivalry.

The Ducks, if they split their next two, have a chance to survive a tough early season schedule at .500 - five points in five games, which they'd take, given their injuries (to J.S. Giguere, Mathieu Schneider and Sami Pahlsson), defections (Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne still in limbo) and the fact that they opened the season in Europe and then returned to provide the opposition for Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh in their respective home openers.

The Kings, who opened the season in London, England against the Ducks last weekend, opted to go a different scheduling route. They took a week off to re-acclimate to the Pacific time-zone before their home opener Saturday against visiting St. Louis, meaning Kings rookie forward Brady Murray will play his third-ever NHL game against his dad, Andy Murray, who happens to be the Blues' coach.

Andy Murray is the all-time Kings coaching wins leader and was their coach when the Kings drafted Brady 152nd overall back 2003. This will mark the fourth time in league history that a father coached a game against his son: The others: Bob Johnson, Calgary, vs. Mark Johnson, Hartford (first meeting was Oct. 21, 1982); Bill Dineen, Philadelphia, vs. Gord Dineen, Ottawa (Feb. 9, 1993) and Rick Wilson, Dallas, vs. Landon Wilson, Phoenix (Feb. 26, 2002).

THE JASON SPEZZA WATCH: The contract the Ottawa Senators gave Dany Heatley this past week was for a few dollars more and one year longer in term than the one the Flames signed Jarome Iginla to earlier in the summer. Heatley received a $7.5 million average over six years (front-loaded so that he'll earn $10 million in the first season), while Iginla took $7 million over five years. Both were eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer and would have been interesting comparables had they hit the open market together.

Heatley is the more accomplished sniper; Iginla a far more complete player. Both have led their teams to one Stanley Cup final appearance, but have yet to win a championship. The fact that Iginla cumulatively outscored Heatley over the past three seasons (234 points to 233) was mostly because Heatley played 38 fewer games in that span. Iginla is 30, Heatley 26 — and while Iginla is clearly the top forward on Calgary, Heatley gets competition from both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson for that designation in Ottawa.

With Heatley in the fold, attention will now turn to signing the 24-year-old Spezza to a long-term contract as well. Spezza becomes a restricted free agent next summer, with a chance to become unrestricted in July, 2009, if he and the Senators cannot hammer out a long-term deal.

Of course, things could get interesting far sooner than that. This past summer, the Edmonton Oilers' Kevin Lowe broke a long-standing gentlemen's agreement among NHL general managers and signed two prominent young players — Tomas Vanek of Buffalo and Dustin Penner of Anaheim — to offer sheets as restricted free agents. The Sabres matched the Oilers' offer to retain Vanek's rights; while the Ducks let Penner go — and started a cold war between the respective managers, Lowe and Brian Burke, that shows no signs of abating.

If Vanek can command a $50 million offer sheet, what might some team (say Toronto?) be prepared to pay Spezza who, on a points-per-game basis over the past two seasons, is one of the league's absolutely elite stars? It could set a post-lockout record — and it's something the Senators clearly need to ponder as they develop their long-term payroll strategy (and almost certainly means that Wade Redden's future in the nation's capital is coming to an end), unless he is willing to take a significant pay cut to stay on.

Redden showed his commitment to the cause by dropping the gloves twice in the opener against the Maple Leafs, something that sent a signal to the dressing room, if nowhere else. But the reality is, Redden's two-year, $13 million contract, signed two summers ago, is now far more than the Senators can afford to pay, given their other contractual commitments, present and future.

THE EVER QUOTABLE JACQUES MARTIN: As part of their season-opening coverage, just about every newspaper does the standard predictions and/or question-and-answer sessions with the home team's managers and key personnel. And so it was that the Miami Herald posed a question to Florida Panthers' general manager (and ex-Ottawa coach) Jacques Martin on the eve of their opener against the New York Rangers: "True or false — the Roberto Luongo trade is the worst trade in the history of your sport?" Martin, according to the paper, replied "True."

A day later, team captain Olli Jokinen was asked to weigh in on the deal a day later to the rival Sun-Sentimental newspaper, and agreed — to a point. "Probably, as far as this franchise, yes," answered Jokinen. "It was shocking. It was a bad move."

Of course, purists with longer memories than Martin might offer up the Nov. 7, 1975 deal between Boston and Chicago that saw Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield join the Bruins for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte as the most decidedly one-sided trade ever. And Leaf fans of a more recent vintage could probably state the case for the Toronto-Calgary 10-player deal that effectively saw Doug Gilmour swapped for Gary Leeman.

The Panthers were supposed to have solved their goaltending issues with the off-season acquisition of Tomas Vokoun. On the second night of the season, when six of the seven games on the schedule featuring five goals or fewer, the Rangers lit up Vokoun for five goals, including four in fewer than seven minutes in the third period, in a 5-2 New York win. Wonder if Vokoun was reading the local papers on line that day?

--- Luongo, by the way, makes his first regular-season appearance against Mike Keenan, the man who traded him out of Florida, for Vancouver against Calgary Saturday night

--- The Avalanche started goaltender Peter Budaj on back-to-back nights, in part because Jose Theodore was recovering from knee surgery and not ready to play yet. The Avs assigned Theodore to their minor-league affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, to get a game under his belt before returning to the team Sunday.

Even though the Avs have steadfastly advised just to leave Theodore in the minors (thus striking his $6 million salary from their payroll), they appear to be content to let him be a high-priced back-up this year. According to GM Francois Giguere, Theodore "is in the final stages of his rehabilitation work and both our hockey staff and he agreed that actual game action would be the way to complete this process."

SWIMMING WITH SHARKS: The San Jose Sharks' new season got off to a rocky start with that shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night — and probably brought back lots of bad memories of how they frittered away their 2006 playoff hopes in the same arena, blowing a 2-0 lead in a series they should have won going away.

Curiously, their recent pattern of failure is one reason why so many pre-season prognosticators like the Sharks to finally shed their image as playoff also-rans this spring. The Sharks had the Detroit Red Wings on the ropes last spring as well, only to let them off the hook, something that Joe Thornton says will provide them with gobs of motivation this season.

In an era with no real clear-cut powerhouses on the NHL horizon, motivation can sometimes be the single most important factor in winning or losing at crunch time. For reasons that even they have a hard time explaining, teams that win a Stanley Cup one year often have trouble finding the same motivation the next year. They're just not as hungry. By contrast, teams that lose a playoff series they think they were good enough to win often find they have motivation in large quantities the next year.

How hard was it for the Sharks to come so close two years in a row and then to let a series slip through their fingers?

"Real hard," answered Thornton. "That's why most of us re-signed for the number of years that we did — because we believe in these guys and we really do believe we have a chance to win the Stanley Cup this year, next year, the year and the year after that — the next four years. That's why I signed for another three years, why Patty (Marleau) signed for two more, Milan (Michalek), (Craig) Rivet. We feel like we're right there and we just need to put it all together this year."

Two years ago, Thornton led the league in scoring while linemate Jonathan Cheechoo led in goals. Cheechoo's numbers fell off last year, partly because he was playing with two hernias at the end of the season that required summer surgery. He also needed time to recover from a knee injury suffered in the opening round against Nashville (on a Scott Hartnell hit) that limited his effectiveness. Thornton, meanwhile, played all year with a bad toe and still managed to give Sidney Crosby a run for the scoring title. In the past three seasons, Thornton is the NHL's overall scoring leader — and it isn't even close. He's had 312 points in that span; the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr is next at 293.

"He feels healthy and I feel healthy," said Thornton. "Last year, he (Cheechoo) got 39 goals. That's a successful year, but everybody was expecting him to get 50 again. I think anywhere from 40 to 50 is a successful year for him."

Cheechoo's operation limited his movement and effectively stopped him from training for six weeks, which left his conditioning a little behind when training camps opened.

"You can't do much," he said. "It takes a while for it to heal, every time they cut you open. And you kind of need your core to do everything. It's not like you can work on something else, while you're waiting for that to heal."

The presence of 37-year-old Jeremy Roenick on the roster masks the fact that the Sharks are one of the youngest teams in the league. But not too young, said Thornton.

"You can just see the maturity in our young defencemen and some of our young forwards," said Thornton. "When I was 22, the year you turn 23, that makes a huge difference mentally and physically. You get more confidence. Everybody on this team is going through that together, which is fun. You can just see the improvements within everybody's game. Everybody works so hard. Hopefully, it'll pay off this year."

AND FINALLY: If Peter Forsberg returns to play in the NHL this season, which is looking increasingly likely with every passing day, the thinking is that Colorado would be his first choice. Forsberg wants to play in a comfortable environment and have a chance to win again. The Avs would provide him with that opportunity (he played their most of his career), as would Philadelphia (last year's club), Detroit (with its heavy concentration of Swedes) and Vancouver (see Detroit). Forsberg is skating again back home with MoDo, his former team in the Elitserien.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:28 PM   #77
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Another flyer in trouble

Jesse Boulerice crosscheck to the face of Ryan Kesler in last night’s Flyers at Canucks game will most likely earn him a suspension, and a lengthy one at that.

Both Boulerice and Flyers coach John Stevens expect one.

“It’s unacceptable, it’s something that we can’t have, Flyers coach John Stevens said. “We didn’t need to get involved in anything really, we had the hockey game in hand and that was the message on the bench, so that kind of stuff can’t happen.”

Kesler spoke with the media after the game. His jaw is not broken, and he will undergo an MRI today to see if there’s a fracture. The AP thoughts from Boulerice were succinct:

Boulerice said he was sorry for the hit.

“I reacted in a bad way the wrong way,” he said.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:35 PM   #78
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honestly, this deserves 20 games, there is no place in the game for plays like that.

BUT

im happy that the team is sticking up for itself and each other this year, unlike 2 years ago when umberger got clocked and nobody did anything, that being said, the stick is not the way to do it.

message sent to everybody in the league, dirty or not, you take a run at one of our guys, your gonna get it. its a very proud day to be a flyers fan, despite the fact that the play was extremely dirty.
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:20 AM   #79
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ok this didnt take long, click the link half way down the page for highlights.

tootoo pulls a downie

Now, the difference is that he didnt connect nearly as well, but the intent was there, he better get some kind of suspension otherwise it proves the league is reacting to the injury and not the cause of it. He took a run, never broke stride, led with shoulder at head , unsuspecting opponent, only thing missing is the serious injury.

come on campbell prove me wrong
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:34 PM   #80
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and the casualties continue to mount at the hands of the reborn philly flyers.

add a coach to the list

first it was steve downie taking out mccammond, then boulerice took out kessler, and last night the team took out bob hartley.

last year it took until november 15th to get win #4, this year it was almost a full month earlier on october 16th.

Last edited by chadta; 10-17-2007 at 02:08 PM..
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:36 PM   #81
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4-0 over the devils

2 shut outs in a row for biron, secondary scoring does it again with goals from lupul, kapanen, richards and dowd.

keep up the good work guys
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:05 AM   #82
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The devs played last night and look pretty tired but no excuse flyers beat em.
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:49 AM   #83
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the flyers were outshot 38-18 so i dont really think the tired thing had much to do with it, they just arent the team they were a few years ago, and thankfully the flyers arent the team they were last year.
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Old 10-19-2007, 05:27 PM   #84
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I should have been more specific (Brodeur) looked tired..
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Old 10-19-2007, 06:07 PM   #85
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I should have been more specific (Brodeur) looked tired..
brodeur hasnt been playing well all year.
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Old 10-19-2007, 06:23 PM   #86
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brodeur hasnt been playing well all year.



Iam saying this based on the fact he played the pens the night before he played the flyers..
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:29 PM   #87
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Iam saying this based on the fact he played the pens the night before he played the flyers..
and i am saying that based on his stats

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?service=p...ayerId=8455710

2 wins , 27th in average and 32nd in save percentage, those are far from brodeur numbers, the fact that he played the day before has very little to do with it, keep in mind he played at least 70 games every year for the last god knows how long, so back to back dosent seem to bother him.
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:49 PM   #88
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Let's take these SOB's out!!!!!!

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I am pleased thus far......GO FLYERS!!!
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:51 PM   #89
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I am pleased thus far......GO FLYERS!!!


The canes are playing pretty good the flyers will have their hands full tonight.
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:59 PM   #90
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Fun fact

Goal differentials

RK Team GP GF EN GA EN Gdif/G
1 PHI 6 25 1 10 1 2.500
2 STL 5 18 1 9 0 1.600
3 MIN 6 14 0 7 0 1.167
4 CAR 7 24 2 14 0 1.143
5 OTT 8 26 1 17 1 1.125
6 BUF 6 24 0 19 1 1.000
7 CBJ 6 15 1 10 0 0.667
8 DET 8 26 1 21 1 0.625
9 BOS 6 19 1 15 0 0.500
10 CGY 7 25 0 24 0 0.143
11 COL 7 23 0 23 1 0.143
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Old 10-20-2007, 06:11 PM   #91
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For so much of last season, and pieces of the new one, the Philadelphia Flyers managed to make news in all the wrong ways.

Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice, left, was suspended for 25 games in October.
Related
Sports Business: Devils Win the Race to Be First (October 20, 2007)

Their only superlatives from last season arose from its being the sorriest in franchise history, a 22-48-12 record that was every bit as bad as it sounds. Early this season, two of their players threw ugly hits that prompted the suspension-shy N.H.L. to hand down 45 games’ worth of punishment.

But lurking beneath the bad and the ugly, the Flyers have also built a team that might be awfully good. From the rubble of last season, the Flyers have constructed a suddenly scary offense and a team, with a few exceptions, that is less reliant on the thuggery that brings flashbacks to the days of the notorious Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s.

“We like the direction we’re going,” Flyers Coach John Stevens said this week. “Our fans are excited. The crowds at home have been just terrific and people are saying we’re an exciting team to watch, and that means a lot. But if we are going to fly under the radar a little, that’s O.K., too.”

So far, the all-new Flyers have sprinted to a 5-1 start with consecutive 4-0 victories against Atlanta and the Devils. They have scored at a surprising clip — they chased the All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo in the first period while scoring eight goals against Vancouver — and have allowed only 10 in 6 games. This was a team that gave up 303 goals last season, a mind-boggling 106 more than the league’s top defensive team.

But what most people know about the Flyers is that the minor leaguer Steve Downie sent Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond to the hospital with a vicious check to the head in a preseason game, and that the journeyman Jesse Boulerice chopped Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler in the face with his stick earlier this month. Downie was suspended for 20 games and Boulerice for 25. Both remain with the franchise, assigned to the American Hockey League’s Philadelphia Phantoms, while under suspension.

“Things happen,” Flyers center Daniel Brière said. “I hear a lot of comments that people blame the coaching staff or John Stevens for not controlling his players, but you look at the two incidents, it’s not like John sent them out there to do that. It’s sad that it’s taken over the success of the team, but things like that happen and you’ve got to deal with it.”

Brière is perhaps the best measuring stick of the Flyers. He was one of the N.H.L.’s most attractive free agents this summer, a 30-year-old, slick-skating center who helped make the Buffalo Sabres one of the league’s most dangerous teams over the last two seasons. The Flyers wooed him with an eight-year, $52 million contract, but Brière said that would not have been enough had the Flyers not already started their rebuilding.

They had begun at the trading deadline, sending the high-priced and often-injured Peter Forsberg to Nashville for forward Scottie Upshall, the 19-year-old defenseman Ryan Parent and two draft picks.

They snatched goalie Martin Biron from Buffalo for a second-round draft pick. They shopped at Nashville’s fire sale again at the draft, grabbing defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell for a first-round draft pick. Then, as they were wooing Brière, they traded for defenseman Jason Smith and forward Joffrey Lupul for the underachieving defenseman Joni Pitkanen, forward Geoff Sanderson and a draft pick.

The Flyers still had the elite scorer Simon Gagné, who scored 47 goals in 2005-6, and the promising young forwards Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and R. J. Umberger.

And perhaps most tellingly, Biron decided to forgo being an unrestricted free agent and signed a two-year, $7 million contract before last season ended.

“You can’t just look at the surface,” Brière said. “You have to look a little deeper. Looking all the way back to the beginning of last season, more than half of the team was new faces. There is too much talent in this room not to make this turnaround. You never know for sure. But for me, I thought there was a lot of upside.”

Brière has been centering Gagné and Mike Knuble, two of the few holdovers, and already has four goals and four assists.

“For the guys who are remaining, this is fun,” Knuble said. “All of us who lived through last year, on a team that was the worst in a proud franchise’s history, it was tough to take.

“Granted, we have 77 more games, so you can’t plan the parade yet, but the start is everything. You build your momentum, whether it’s positive or negative. Last year it was negative and it carried throughout the year. This year, teams realize we’re back.”

And although they may welcome Downie and Boulerice back to their lineup when the suspensions are over, the Flyers have not been shy about decrying what they did to earn them. They believe the lesson has been learned though the suspensions, even though Boulerice was once suspended from junior hockey for a season for a stick attack. Boulerice, who clobbered Kesler late in a game the Flyers were winning handily, apologized after the game.

“It has taken a lot of attention away from our team, but rightfully so,” Stevens said. “Those are incidents we have to remove from our game. The one in preseason with young Downie, it’s a situation where you never want to see a player get hurt. We’ve got to do our part to try to eliminate that. The other one with Jessie, that just has no part in the game.”

The Flyers still have forward Ben Eager, who led the league in penalty minutes (233) and misconducts (5) last season.

But the face of this team has suddenly become the fresh face of Brière, who is 5 feet 10 inches and 179 pounds and looks closer to 18 than he does to 30.

“I believe we have a good combination right now,” Brière said. “I think our team is built more around skill and speed than it is around toughness and tough guys. We are not the old-time Broad Street Bullies.”
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:52 PM   #92
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http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/...real_deal.html

Flyers on a mission to be the 'real deal'

By Tim Panaccio

Inquirer Staff Writer
The Flyers are off to a great start at 5-1, but the question remains: Are they for real?

"We're all trying to figure out where we stand," Danny Briere said. "Obviously, we believe in ourselves. We think we can be the real deal right off the bat. At the same time, we have a long way to go. We're only six games into the season. We want to prove to people it's not a hot streak and we're a team that deserves to be there."

Given last season's carnage and the complete remake of the team since February, it's a fair question when trying to assess coach John Stevens' club.

The correct answer might be wait and see what happens tonight against Carolina and next week at Tampa Bay.

Carolina had a recent three-game sweep through Canada in which the Hurricanes outscored their opponents, 15-5, and former Flyer Justin Williams registered six points. Goalie Cam Ward allowed five goals in three games.

Then Carolina had a five-day break before meeting Pittsburgh last night, losing, 4-3, in a shoot-out, while the Flyers have been revving it up.

"They're playing well, they have a lot of confidence right now," Stevens said. "It's another challenge for us to see where we're at. . . . I don't know if it's the first test because we've been tested already."

Yes, the club was tested with a tough road trip to Western Canada to start the season. But Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver aren't the rejuvenated Hurricanes.

What makes Carolina a fair measuring stick as to how far the Flyers have come, and how far they still have to go, is the way the Canes are getting contributions from their forwards and defense while Ward is playing nearly as well as the Flyers' Martin Biron in goal.

"Carolina is one of the best teams in the East and their start shows it," Simon Gagne said. "Last year was a tough season coming off winning the Stanley Cup. They are still one of the most dangerous teams in the league. It's going to be a big test for us."

The Flyers likely will be facing tests for weeks on end, trying to prove they are a lot better than anyone thought and that this is not just a freak, fast start. Looking at the whole picture, the Flyers seem like the real deal.

Their goal differential is a league-high plus-15 and that tells you how defensively committed this team has been. Defense still wins in the NHL.

Briere said the Flyers have room for improvement in several areas, not the least of which is his line with Gagne and Mike Knuble, which is minus-2.

"Our line, personally, can do a little bit more," he said. "Another good thing has been the play of [Jeff] Carter's and [Mike] Richards' line and Jimmy Dowd's line. Big goals, key goals. That's another big plus to help us.

"There are still some breakdowns here and there with our line. There is still some chemistry that needs to be worked on."

Specifically, Briere said his line needed to instinctively know where each member is in the offensive zone. For instance, when Briere goes behind the net, he needs to know for certain where Gagne and Knuble are on the ice. He doesn't want to have to find them but to know instantly where they should be.

"There's been games where [the chemistry] has been really good, and the last couple of games not so good," Briere said. "But other guys stepped up and picked up what needed to be done, which is what good teams do."

The Briere line has not scored a goal on home ice.

So, how good are these Flyers?

"It's fun to be 5-1," Briere said. "We should be happy and proud of it, but we should realize there is a lot of time left here."

Loose pucks. Ben Eager (dizziness/vision problems) skated hard before practice with Scottie Upshall (broken left wrist) and then participated in the full Flyers practice. Eager said that he felt "pretty good," and that the vision in his left eye had cleared. He could play tonight . . . Upshall's hard cast is off. He is still two to three weeks away from playing, Stevens said . . . About 500 tickets remain for tonight's game ... Biron's goals-against average is third best in the league at 1.50. His save percentage of .951 is second only to Boston's Tim Thomas (.962).
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:47 PM   #93
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one of my favoriet goalies
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:30 AM   #94
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The canes are playing pretty good the flyers will have their hands full tonight.
They did...and they still prevailed. GO FLYERS!!!!
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Old 10-27-2007, 06:08 PM   #95
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Flyers are dirtbags...

Patrice Bergeron is currently being taken off the ice on a back-board and stretcher as the result of a hit to the head from behind by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones that drove him into the end boards. Bergeron was definately out cold as he laid motionless on the ice for some time...

Jones has been issued a 5-min boarding and Game Misconduct for the hit...

Bad stuff...
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Old 10-27-2007, 08:07 PM   #96
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It's already hit the web...

LInk


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BOSTON (AP) -- Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was taken from the ice on a stretcher Saturday against Philadelphia after losing consciousness when he was hit from behind by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones.

Bergeron was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was being treated by Bruins team physician Dr. Bertram Zarins.

Medical personnel cut away Bergeron's jersey and shoulder pads as they worked on him, placing his neck in a brace. They placed him on a board and then onto a stretcher, his legs taped together and his arms folded across his chest. There was little sign of movement. The game was delayed some 15 minutes with 3:53 left in the first period.

Jones drew a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.

Bergeron and Jones were chasing a loose puck when Bergeron took the hit in the back and hit the glass face-first. He went down on the ice on his back and lay virtually motionless as Jones continued pursuing the puck. As the whistle blew, Boston's Chuck Kobasew went after Jones, drawing a roughing penalty.

"Words really can't express the way that I feel right now. I am very apologetic for the hit and what I did," Jones said in a statement released by the team. "It was not intentional. It is something that I have never done before and it is not part of my character. I am extremely sorry.

"I hope he does OK and everything works out for him. I wish him nothing but the best in his recovery."

Jones' hit is the latest incident involving the Flyers this season.

Steve Downie was suspended 20 games after a hit to Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond's head in an exhibition game. Then on Oct. 10 in Vancouver, Jesse Boulerice cross-checked Ryan Kesler in the mouth, resulting in a 25-game suspension.

Last edited by Bronx33; 10-27-2007 at 08:25 PM..
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:27 AM   #97
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and bergeron has a concussion and a broken nose.

you dont wanna get hit like that, dont skate into the boards like that, if he lays up and dosent hit him bergeron skates around him for a wrap around attempt. Im not happy he got hurt but its just as much his fault as it is jones, hell jones finally got his first 5 minute penalty.
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Old 10-28-2007, 03:12 PM   #98
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and bergeron has a concussion and a broken nose.

you dont wanna get hit like that, dont skate into the boards like that, if he lays up and dosent hit him bergeron skates around him for a wrap around attempt. Im not happy he got hurt but its just as much his fault as it is jones, hell jones finally got his first 5 minute penalty.
Of course your gonna say it's Bergeron fault rather than Jones fault. Jones got beat to the puck and you know it's a bad hit no matter how you try to explain it away Chadta. It's from behind with the elbow up on the head and little to no effort by Jones to pull up and just go for a pin against the boards as we see in almost every NHL game on a nightly basis...he'll get a lengthy suspension from the league office and hopefully the Flyers get a draft pick taken away.
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Old 10-28-2007, 03:21 PM   #99
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Of course your gonna say it's Bergeron fault rather than Jones fault. Jones got beat to the puck and you know it's a bad hit no matter how you try to explain it away Chadta. It's from behind with the elbow up on the head and little to no effort by Jones to pull up and just go for a pin against the boards as we see in almost every NHL game on a nightly basis...he'll get a lengthy suspension from the league office and hopefully the Flyers get a draft pick taken away.

Bergerons numbers were showing the whole time so any retorts saying it's Bergerons fault are a lost cause.
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Old 10-28-2007, 05:32 PM   #100
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as i said, if he lays up, bergeron turns and has a clear shot at the net, should he have hit him NO am i happy he did NO, is he a dirty player NO, he made a mistake, and it wasnt as bad as many other ones, but oh no its the big bad flyers. Somethings gotta be done.

BUT dont put yourself in that position, use your head, no he didnt turn at the last second but who in there right mind skates from that far away straight at the boards without turning, if he turns he dosent get hit, hes just as guilty as jones is. He kinda deserved it for being so stupid.

this is still hockey, it is still a contact sport.
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