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Flyers beat Panthers; Clinch Playoffs

Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers took on the Florida Panthers in game 79 of the regular season. After a shaky 1st period, the Flyers stormed out in the 2nd period and scored 4 unanswered goals, leading the way to a 5-2 victory and solidifying their spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After the teams 0-3-0 start, firing of the their then head coach, Peter Laviolette, hiring Craig Berube, and even then going 1-7-0. That is when the captain, Claude Giroux, made a bold statement. A statement that most of us, myself admittedly included, thought was a silly promise and will end up a broken one.

 “We’re not far off at all. How many points are we out, six? To think of the start that we had and we’re that close. We never thought about not making the playoffs. We’ve got to go game by game and we will make the playoffs.” -Claude Giroux

Man,are most of us laughing at ourselves and really would apologize to Giroux for doubting his prediction.

The issue now for the Flyers becomes where will they land in the seeding. They still have a game in hand against the New York Rangers and are just 2 points behind them.

For the Flyers, a team that has struggled largely in Madison Square Garden, getting ahead of the Rangers in the Metro is their next step.

Comparing the remaining schedules for the Flyers and Rangers, it’s a difficult task for the Flyers. They will likely need to win out against Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Carolina.The Rangers have Buffalo and Montreal left on their docket. As of today, the Rangers own the tiebreaker over the Flyers with 40 ROW wins compared to the Flyers 38.

No matter how we break down the remaining schedule, the Rangers are the nearly guaranteed opponent for the Flyers. I don’t agree with a few fans I’ve overheard saying to lose out the rest of the season of snag a wild card and face the Penguins in the first round.

That is entirely too risky, you could easily end up playing the Boston Bruins instead of the Penguins, and that will end miserably for the Flyers.

The best case for the Flyers right now is to win out and take on the Rangers, preferably on home ice, but anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Let the playoff beards flow my fellow hockey enthusiasts.

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Take a Deep Breath Flyers

The 3 games for the Philadelphia Flyers hasn’t exactly gone in the direction of the Flyers. They’ve gone 0-2-1 in the 3 game stretch, three games against a top team in Boston and St. Louis, along with a playoff desperate team in the Columbus Blue Jackets. They probably should have beaten the Boston Bruins having completely out played them and out shooting them with 52 shoots to Boston’s 30. But like all top teams in the NHL, Boston grinned it out and won ( in a skills competition but still a win.)

Flyers would then drop the next two games, again in a shootout to St. Louis and in regulation to a very beatable Columbus. The biggest concern I took form the Columbus game was their was no urgency from the Flyers bench at all. Columbus is right on their heels in the Metro division and they came out like they had a playoff spot locked up with 7 games to play.

That is obviously not the case for the Flyers. They are in 3rd place in the Metro 4 points behind the Rangers. Points against teams like Columbus should come easy for a team that played well against two teams that could very well be facing each other come June.

Now I think a lot of Flyers fans need to take a deep breathe, however, because sometimes these games happen. It’s obviously not ideal but sometimes teams have an off night or the opposing teams goalie has a out of body game and stops everything in their path. (Bob did that for Columbus.) They have a back-to-back this weekend, with Boston and Buffalo. If they can grab 3 points out of this weekend, they’ll be sitting pretty. Especially with the scheduling easing up after the Boston game on Saturday. The Flyers will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, don’t worry about that.

What Flyers fans should worry about is home ice for the playoffs first round. The New York Rangers will be the very likely opponent for the Flyers in the first round. The Flyers are a terrible team recently inside Madison Square Garden. It’s not going to be a short series either way, but I will not be betting on the Flyers to take the Rangers in 7 if they have a game 7 in the Garden.

Unless the Flyers get very very hot again like in the month of March.

Breathe deep Flyers fans, it’s about to get interesting.

 

Giroux has a Serious Argument for Hart

Leaving the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon after yet another impressive Flyers win, this one over the St. Louis Blue 4-1. I thought one simple thing, Claude Giroux has a serious shot at winning the Hart Memorial Trophy this year.

Giroux added 2 assists to his stats this season against the Blues, hitting the 50 assist mark this season and 74 points overall. He also added 8, uncharacteristic, penalty minutes on the day. However, the penalties are nether here nor there in this argument for Hart. The 26-year old center, is the most valuable player on the Philadelphia Flyers. Which by definition of the Hart Memorial Trophy qualifies a player for the award.

74 points by Giroux has him tied for third in the league in point total with Phil Kessel. Sidney Crosby is the league leader with 94. A lot of writers seem to look at point totals as the biggest factor in achieving the Hart Trophy. I don’t look at it like that. Yes points are a big factor in it but something else is just as important, if not more important.

Where would that player’s team be if he wasn’t on the team?

Giroux could win the Hart (USA TODAY IMAGE)

Giroux could win the Hart (USA TODAY IMAGE)

Can you imagine a Flyers team playing this well without the contributions of Claude Giroux? Simple answer…

NO

We saw for nearly a full season 2 years ago and then some a Pittsburgh Penguins team without Crosby and they were still a top team in the league. I have even said (before I joined the Wooder Cooler) that Malkin has bigger value than Crosby for that team.

Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek, and the rest of the Flyers feed off Giroux’s production and leadership. That is the difference when comparing Giroux and Crosby. If Crosby was forced to retire a few years back due to his concussion issues, the Penguins probably would of been just fine. The Flyers would not be in that scenario.

Since December 11 of this season, Giroux leads the league in points and the Flyers have one of the best records in the league since then as well. See the correlation? Yeah that is called value of a player. Giroux playing well= a competitive Flyers team.

Imagine where the Flyers and Giroux would be if they and him didn’t have that extremely slow start. They might be in the hunt for the top seed out of the Metro division.

Now I’ve discussed Crosby being a value to his team and I almost forgot about the other probable Hart finalist, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin leads the league in goals at 46, a very impressive stat for the Washington Capital. Corey Perry, of Anaheim, is in 2nd for league goals and he’s at 36.

But other than Ovechkin’s 46 goals, is there really anything else that is more impressive than Giroux? Ovechkin has 23 assist, Giroux has 50. Ovechkin is a -31! How can you be in the discussion for Hart if you can’t play both ends of the ice. -31 isn’t bad, it’s abysmal for a player like Ovechkin. Giroux is a +7 by the way.

The Hart Trophy is awarded to the player that is most valuable to his team’s performance in a season. Claude Giroux has 74 points on the year, most coming from assists (50), and continues to carry the Flyers after a very slow start.

That is a pretty high value if you ask me.

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Giroux is the Only Man for the Job

Claude Giroux is having easily the most frustrating season of his career. His team is in dead last in the Metropolitan division, dead last in goals per game with 1.47.

But one thing is for sure, Giroux is the only player on the Philadelphia Flyers that deserves the “C” on his sweater. There is no one on the team currently that has the right to lead this team into the unknown future than this man.

Yes his stats have gone down since becoming the captain, no doubt about it but I personally believe that it’s not because he his wearing the “C” and he has “unneeded” pressure. It’s through the pressure of his own standards to be the best player in the world, which he isn’t and will not be while Crosby and Ovechkin are playing in the NHL.

Giroux needs to find his swagger back, playing simple hockey, even at this point, getting selfish with the puck. He needs to quit trying to make the cute and unnecessary passes and shoot the puck on net and create chances for himself and his teammates at the same time. It sounds weird I know, but the Flyers have to find some way to get pucks on and in the net, Giroux will be that guy.

Paul Holmgren brought former captains of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit in not for the purpose of being fail safe captains but to help Giroux develop his leadership role on HIS team. Claude Giroux is the Philadelphia Flyers, not Lecavalier, not Streit.

usatoday.com

usatoday.com

Following last nights game against the New Jersey Devils, in which the team suffered another loss, Giroux and the Flyers held a players only meeting. Following the meeting, Giroux refused to speak to the media and the scrutiny he has seen because of this is ridiculous.

Former Flyers captain Chris Pronger loathed the media. He hated talking to them and fueling fire to a Philadelphia media. And yet no one really bashed him for it. He lead his way for the team, despite in being cut short to concussions.

Giroux has taken a page out of Pronger’s leadership ways and done the same thing. Shunning the media and finding a way to lead this team. He’s in his second year in his first stint as a captain of a team. He’s still adapting and he will break out  sooner or later. With a team in last place, a captain’s first concern shouldn’t be talking to the media, it should be finding ways to right the ship that is the Flyers.

The entire Philadelphia Flyers organization is a mess right now. They don’t seem to have put the right personal on the ice to win games, but one thing they got right was putting the “C” on Claude Giroux’s sweater. Make no mistake about it.

Tye McGinn Slowly Sparking the Flyers

It’s been a frustrating start to the season for the Philadelphia Flyers, however the last two games, despite loses, have shown pockets of bright spots.

Two games since being called up, Tye McGinn is quickly making  his presence known.

Despite the Flyers being 0-2 since McGinn getting the call, he’s improving himself and the team.

McGinn notched his first goal of the season in his first game against Detroit and then added 2 more against Vancouver Tuesday night.

McGinn was called up after both Scott Hartnell and Vinny Lecavalier went down due to injuries. Honestly though I don’t see how McGinn wasn’t on the opening night roster against Toronto but he’s on the roster now so he’s earning his keep.

With Hartnell out possibly 3-4 weeks, McGinn was put on the top line with Giroux and Voracek and the way he’s been playing he’ll likely stay there when Hartnell comes back.

Despite losing Saturday to Detroit, McGinn’s presence clearly sparked something in the Flyers and the offensive production is starting to improve. The captain, Claude Giroux, finally woke up from his slump and registered his first assist and point against Detroit with McGinn on his line. He even got another Tuesday night on one of McGinn’s 2 goals.

The team still has a lot to work on but things are moving forward and McGinn has made some of that movement happen. He’s a young gun at 23, being that young and creating a spark now could really foreshadow what this guy will bring in the years to come.

The team is 1-6-0 on the season, not exactly pretty, however, the next game is against the Pittsburgh Penguins, you want the team to get fired up and back on track? A game against your arch rival across the state can help.

With Gustafsson deal done, who are you picking for the Flyers’ starting lineup? [Poll]

Erik Gustafsson
Image via Wikimedia Commons

24-year old Erik Gustafsson signed a 1-year, $1M offer to remain with the Flyers through this season. His new contract is a 1-way deal. Barring injury, Gus is almost certain to start the season in the NHL, and it seems likely he’ll slot in on the third pairing and 2nd-line power play.

But with 10 defenders now under contract for 2013-14, at a total of $34.2 million against the cap, Paul Holmgren and Peter Laviolette are now facing some very interesting decisions when it comes time for camp. Who’s gonna make it?

There are a couple things we can get out of the way. First, barring a miraculous resurrection, Chris Pronger’s contract is going to come off the books as soon as possible. The Flyers are currently $2.05 million over the cap, but Pronger’s contract still counts for $4.94M (CapGeek). Moving Prongs to Long Term Injured Reserve will free up that space and make the Flyers cap compliant in one fell swoop. This takes some pressure off of the front office to pursue trades, because a salary dump – at least for the upcoming season – is not really necessary.

Beyond that, the Flyers have some roster locks:

  • Kimmo Timonen
  • Mark Streit
  • Luke Schenn

Lock, lock, lock. Not even worth discussing whether they’ll start the year as three of the top four. How they’re paired, however, is a bit more iffy. Schenn is a big thumping defender who tends to hang near the crease and relishes contact, while Timonen and Streit both work better by taking away space and cutting off passing lanes.

Kimmo is a superior all-around player, while Streit at times plays like a 4th forward, but both have offensive skills that pair up pretty well with Schenn’s bruising character. Lavy may opt to continue to take advantage of what seemed like some good chemistry between the Timonen and Schenn last season, when they generated a 53.1% 5v5 Corsi For* while on ice together, but 49.7% and 46.6% respectively while apart.

*For the uninitiated, quick definitions of Corsi found here

This still leaves us with five defenders vying for the final two active roster spots, one of whom will see big minutes on the second line — unless a non-roster player impresses in camp and leapfrogs the group, which is possible, but let’s stick with what we’ve got for now.

Braydon Coburn — 6’5″ 225 lb – age 28 – $4.5M cap hit through 2016

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Ray Returns: Emery signs 1-year deal with Flyers

Multiple sources have confirmed that Ray Emery has signed a 1-year deal, $1.65M contract with the Flyers for the 2013-14 season. For his career, Emery has posted a .908 SV% and a 126-63-16 record.

Emery last played for the Flyers in ’09-’10, posting a .905 SV% and 2.64 Goals Against average in 29 games.

During that season, Emery suffered a hip injury that degenerated into avascular necrosis, the same type of condition that effectively ruined the career of Bo Jackson. Despite the dire prognosis, Emery returned in 2011 to play 10 games for the Ducks, and the following season joined the Chicago Blackhawks as a backup goalie.

Emery played in 21 games for the Hawks this season (.922 SV%, 1.92 GAA) before being sidelined in favor of Corey Crawford. He started the season 12-0-0.

The move gives the Flyers a significant amount of flexibility going into next season. With Steve Mason being anything but a sure thing, Emery is a veteran presence who is more than capable of stepping in if the former Blue Jacket is unable to secure the starting spot. The contracts for both goalies only run through the end of next season, so the Flyers will essentially get to pick who stays or who goes after this year, with no cap ramifications from whichever one loses out.

In all it’s a good deal and a level-headed move for a team coming off one of the worst contracts for a goalie (or any player) in the history of professional sports.

Around the Cooler 06/27/13 – Ilya’s funeral

Here’s what we’re talking about:

I mean, he’s right after all. The universe really is humongous big. And so is his paycheck for the next 14 years.

  • Ilya Bryzgalov’s inevitable amnesty has finally arrived. We’ll miss neither his play nor his cap hit, but we’ll miss the man. (0:00)
  • What should the team do with all the new cap space? Is there an answer for never-ending Flyers goalie debacle? (13:00)
  • Quick NHL Draft talk (20:00)
  • Does a goalie’s personality really affect the play of his teammates? (26:00)


Play on your Mobile Device or Right Click to Download: Around the Cooler 06-27-13

What are you talking about around the water cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Follow us on Twitter @TheWooderCooler

Awesome musical theme written by the awesome Matthew Schwalm

Around the Cooler 06/17/13 – “It’s mid-June and all our teams are terrible…”

Here’s what we’re talking about:

“…and I’m going to buy a Breitling watch for each of my pet iguanas…”
- Flyers defenseman Mark Streit musing about his newfound riches. (Not a real quote)
Image via 98.5 Sports

  • Rollin’ 3-deep today as Nick makes his triumphant return to the the Cooler
  • We note that the Phillies have six players under contract for 2014, at a total salary of $103.5M, then suggest that they all get traded (0:00)
  • We break news to ourselves (at the time) that Mark Streit agreed to a 4-year, $21M contract with the Flyers and discuss cap implications moving forward. Can this team afford to keep Giroux, Schenn, and Couturier for 2014 and beyond? (27:00)


Play on your Mobile Device or Right Click to Download: Around the Cooler 06-17-13

What are you talking about around the water cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Follow us on Twitter @TheWooderCooler

Awesome musical theme written by the awesome Matthew Schwalm

Despite Rampant Steroid Usage, MLB has Huge Balls

image via personal.psu.edu

image via personal.psu.edu

In what has become a super-scandal of sorts (Roidsgate, anyone? No?), the MLB could be suspending 20+ players due to their connection with a Florida group called Biogenesis. Assuming that most of the accused parties are suspended, this will be another damaging blow for baseball as it continues its quest to make the game clean.

Some of baseball’s biggest names are connected to Biogenesis. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers and the already disgraced Yankee Alex Rodriguez have all been listed as suspects thus far. This is great and terrible news.

On the surface, this is ugly. The war on steroids has been exhausting for the MLB as it fights to regain the image of America’s beloved pastime. The problem is that you need stars to sell every sport and when those stars appear tarnished (deserved or not) the casual fan shies away. Instead, they seek the stars who seem unquestionable, unbreakable, heroic…and from other sports.

The problem is that cheating is prevalent in all of the other leagues, they simply don’t have the guts to root it out.

For example, in the NBA eight players have been given suspensions for the use of banned substances. Ever. The most recent case being Hedo Turkoglu, who was suspended 20 games for using methenolone in February. However, the NBA is content with allowing cheating considering their questionable drug testing procedures and the presence of a star-loving, meddlesome commissioner in David Stern.
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