Saturday, May 28, 2011

Congratulations to...

the Bruins.  Never thought I'd say that in a post.  Vancouver in five.  And yes, I'm still here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yes, I'm still here...

just barely.  If (that should read when, but I won't get too far ahead) the Flyers make it back to the Cup, I'll be sure to do my usual post-game report.  Until then, hang in there.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Won't somebody think of the CHILDREN???

Before I head off to bed, a quick shoutout to the US World Juniors team for making it to the final on Tuesday against Canada. They beat Sweden 5-2, a game that was on the NHL Network but I missed it in order to watch the Jets-Bengals game for some reason. Anyway, congrats to the kids and good luck in the finals!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bruins 2, Flyers 1 - Yeah we lost, but...

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

that was a fun game to watch!

First off, let me say that the Winter Classic could, in true Gary Bettman fashion, have been turned into a hokey, sanitized gimmick designed to score ratings for the league and NBC. And while some of that may be true, the past two games have been really good. This one was no exception. 40,000 people in Fenway, Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke out on the ice together, and two teams who really needed the two points in the standings. I have to say, the NHL got this one right.

Now, on to the game itself. I can see now why Jeff Carter was left off the Canadian Olympic team. He must have had about three or four glorious chances to score and just flubbed them. The two on one break with Danny Briere should have iced the game, but Carter put in into the side netting. Overall, the Flyers could have put this game away numerous times, but were either beaten by Tim Thomas (who I would start in Vancouver) or missed the net entirely. Kudos to Danny Syvret for getting his first NHL goal and to Dan Carcillo (how many Dannys play for the Flyers, anyway?) for the first outdoor fight in the NHL! You just know the league offices loved to see that. Michael Leighton, who can't be blamed letting in the game-winner, pretty much had Boston beat up until the final two minutes of the game. Both announcers mentioned that Brian Boucher, a Rhode Island native, would have loved to play in this game, but you have to go with the hot goalie.

This now puts the Flyers a point behind New York for the 8th spot in the East. They finish out the road trip on Sunday against Ottawa and then return home to play Toronto now that Disney on Ice has left the Wachovia Center. Yes, I admit, I kind of gave up on this team a few weeks ago. They were dead in the water, routinely got embarrassed, and had all sorts of problems. Now, they seem to be turning things around - I guess it just took a while for Peter Laviolette to get his system working. There's still plenty of time to get back into solid playoff position before the Olympic break, and it's not like the rest of the conference is leaving us behind.

Happy New Year. Weren't we supposed to have flying cars by now and live on the Moon? Ah well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays!!!

Here's hoping you get everything you want this season! Me, I asked Santa for a hockey team.

I just had a thought, and bear with me on this because this may be the Johnnie talking (that's Johnnie Walker Blue for the uninitiated), but this team started to go downhill ever since Derien Hatcher's knees went out. If you recall, the last time the Flyers went deep in the playoffs, we had both Hatcher and Jason Smith on the blueline. Both of those guys, while giving the Flyers a physical presence in defence, also kept the younger guys in check. They took the role of leadership while allowing guys like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to come into their own. Now, I have nothing against Richards or Carter. I think they're both great players who will contribute to this team for years to come. But Richards is not exactly captain material. Leading by example is great, if that example means not hanging out all night in Center City, being the first one in and the last one out for practice, and leaving it all on the ice every night. My advice - give the "C" to Chris Pronger and let the young guys just focus on playing the game.

In other O&B news, the end of the year means that the Winter Classic is fast approaching in Boston. I'm psyched for this game, mostly because I can see it on TV, but because it should be a great game. I watched the Bruins play the Leafs last night on HNIC, and even though they lost (to a Toronto team that's starting to grow on me), the Bruins are going to be tough. They're as physical, have stronger goaltending so long as Rask is playing, and have a solid defense. Add in the fact that these two teams simply don't like each other, and this will be a fun one to watch. As for the next outdoor game, my money's on the Capitals and the Rangers in New York.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yes I'm still here. But for how long...

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't posted in about two months. Most of that time has been taken up with work (and the neverending quest to hold on to my job), but it's not like things have been quiet around here. For starters, we have a new coach. Now, I've always liked John Stevens. Good guy, came up through the organization, won a Calder Cup, and took the team to the East finals a couple years ago. From what I heard about him, the players liked him, the management liked him, everyone liked him. Which might have been the problem. If you look at all of the great coaches in sports, whether it's football or hockey or whatever, the best coaches weren't concerned about being liked. They were about winning. Even if it meant ruffling some feathers and getting in some faces. John Tortorella is like that, and look how far the Rangers have come. Alex Ferguson is widely regarded as one of the best managers in world football (that's soccer, by the way, and he can be a right bastard when he wants to. Stevens's problem was that he was too nice, too unwilling to challenge the team, and too unwilling to be seen as the bad guy. And in true Flyer fashion, he took the fall for the team's struggles, which are getting embarrassing. Seriously, guys, 8-2 against Washington?

The other reason I haven't been posting is, quite simply, I haven't seen a single Flyers game this season. Not one. Granted, I have DirecTV, which means that in the Philadelphia region, I get blocked out of all Flyers, Phillies, and Sixers games due to Comcast acting like a spoiled brat. However, I could still rely on games shown on Versus and the NHL Network's Hockey Night in Toronto broadcasts. Well, scratch Versus due to a feud between the two providers. DirecTV decided that instead of charging its customers a ridiculous fee for Versus, it would simply drop the channel. To make up for it, we got a free month of NHL Center Ice, but even that didn't allow me to watch the Flyers since Center Ice restrictions don't allow you to see your home team. Adding it all up, and I've seen the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Rangers, Canucks, Flames, and Bruins this year, but not my team. Kinda makes it hard to post when I can't watch the game live.

Which brings me to my final point today. What the hell happened to NHL hockey? I understand and support the new rule changes protecting players from getting hit from behind, especially with the concussion rate going up. That I'm fine with. What I'm not OK with are the ridiculous amount of penalties being called and the lack of consistency when it comes to the league stars. Dan Carcillo got a NINE MINUTE PENALTY against the Caps. Nine minutes!!!! Back in the '80s, we called that a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Nine minutes, come on. From what I understand (and remember, I didn't see it live), Carcillo got in a faster first punch than Matt Bradley. That's not a violation, that's a quick draw. And on top of that, he got suspended for four games. Don't get me started on the selective suspension process the NHL implements.

Maybe I'm just spoiled because I got into the game in the mid-1980s when hockey was in one of its finest periods. Maybe I'm just used to seeing guys be accountable for themselves on the ice instead of this reckless, dangerous behavior you see now. Mark my words, someone's going to get killed out there someday. It could be that I'm just pining for the days when hockey catered to its true fan base instead of trying to woo soccer moms in North Carolina and Arizona, and marketed its teams and heritage rather than the NBA-style focus on a few star players (Kobe vs. Lebron!! CP3 vs. D-Wade!!! AI and some other guys vs. the Boston Garnetts!!). I'm only 31 and I feel like an old geezer telling every kid within earshot how we would walk to the Spectrum in the snow to watch hockey, and that during the intermission we had to resurface the ice ourselves using only a straight razor and a squirt bottle, and we were THANKFUL FOR IT. Right now, even if I could watch the Flyers, how much of it would I enjoy? They're my team, and I'll stick with them until the end, but if the NHL can't improve its product, that end may come sooner that expected.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Let's hear it for my fantasy team!!!

One day in, one day, and I've already lost Andrei Markov and Marian Hossa to the IR. Thanks hockey gods!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Drop the puck

After what felt like a ridiculously long summer, it's finally time to start the season. And for the Philadelphia Flyers, who will now be entering their 43rd year of business, this looks like the run to the Stanley Cup final that we've been waiting for. It's not like they don't have the talent. The offense pretty much returns intact with the exceptions of Mike Knuble (Washington) and Joffrey Lupul (Anaheim). Knuble will be missed the most, though I think Claude Giroux and a healthy Danny Briere can more than make up the scoring. Defensively, this team may be deeper than ever, and adding a certifiable skating axe-murderer in Chris Pronger can only help. And count me in a one of the few who thinks that Ray Emery will be alright in goal. I know he had his discipline problems in Ottawa (what else is there to do in Ottawa except get in trouble?), but this is a new organization and city he's in now. And trust me, if he starts to act up in Philly, Paul Holmgren won't cut him slack. Just cut him.

In an attempt to not just recite what every other hockey writer and blogger have already written (apparently I'm the only one with a full-time job these days and therefore can't devote my days to writing about the best sport in the world while drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee and playing NHL '10 and...what was I saying?) and I'll just give you my own quick season predictions:

1. Washington Capitals
2. Boston Bruins
3. Philadelphia Flyers
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Carolina Hurricanes
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
8. New York Rangers

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Vancouver Canucks
3. Chicago Blackhawks
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Anaheim Ducks
6. Calgary Flames
7. St. Louis Blues
8. Dallas Stars

There ya go. Before I go, thank you very much to DirecTV for extending the free NHL Center Ice preview until October 24. That'll save me some cash.

Carolina up next.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Notes from Flyerland

Alright, y'all. It's starting to get cooler, leaves are changing a little, and hockey's back on TV. Unless you're like me and you have DirecTV, in which case you can't get CSN in the Philly area, so you're left with Versus and the NHL Network. Oh wait, Versus is out because of some dumb feud between DirecTV and Comcast, so you're stuck with the NHL Network which only shows Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. Honestly, I've seen more Rangers preseason games than Flyers games. And yes, it pisses me off a bit.

However, it's only the preseason, so there's really nothing I'm missing. The Flyers have mostly played the Red Wings and the new-look Maple Leafs, losing both games. Some of the young guys like Van Riemsdyk and Mike Pyorala have shown they can compete in the NHL, and I expect them to make the full squad. Other than that, the most important thing is that no one has gotten hurt. It would be nice to have a healthy team for once.

In other personal news - during my trip to New York yesterday, I finally made it to the NHL Store off of Times Square, as you can see from the photo above. I deliberately took a later train in order to find the place. To be honest, I was expecting it to be bigger, but I'm not complaining. I also expected it to be full of Rangers gear, which it wasn't. Good selection of jerseys and other knick-knacks, including a whole rack of Winter Classic stuff. Seeing as how I din't have a lot of money (note to the kids: don't work a commission-only job), I gave in a bought...ready for this?...a Leafs T-shirt. Stop your booing. I can find better Flyers gear at Modell's, plus the Leafs are starting to grow on me. Don't ask why or how, it just sorta happened.

Speaking of the Leafs, and Flyers, they're playing tonight at the Wac. I think this is the last game before the major cuts are made for the final roster, so expect a lot of fringe players hitting everything that moves to make the team. I'll give you my list as to who should be on the senior squad next week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yup, still here

Nothing going on in Flyerland, so enjoy the rest of your summer. Labor (or Labour, for our Canadian friends) Day is only two weeks away, so hockey's coming. Plus it means fall is on its way, which is my favorite time of year. Anyhoo, sit back, get those last beers in, and be ready for camp.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just a friendly reminder

Hockey season starts in two months. TWO MONTHS, PEOPLE!!!!

If it wasn't for the Phillies, this would be a looong summer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And now for the other 81 games...

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers schedule. I'm not going to write out the whole thing (I do have work today), but here's the link from the NHL. At least we're not starting the year in Pittsburgh. Having to watch them raise the Cup banner would be too much to stand. As usual, the Flyers will embark on their annual New Year road trip, but at least they'll be on the East Coast, obviously with the Winter Classic game in Boston included. I'll come back and do a little bit more analysis into this schedule, as soon as this conference call is over.