One to watch: Flyers vs Rangers Preview

claude

Tonight’s game at the Garden between the Flyers and the Rangers is a story of two teams that have rebounded from adversity to sit a point apart from a playoff place. It will be the first time the Flyers have been to the Garden this season.

Both teams have seven wins in there last ten (Philadelphia 7-3-0; New York 7-2-1) and will be looking to push on.

The Flyers have won 5 out of their past 6 road games but tend to struggle at the Garden. Nevertheless, the Flyers won the first meeting this season in a heated affair, beating the Rangers 2-1 Philly behind a stellar 30-save performance from Steve Mason.

With his two assists on Saturday, Claude Giroux now has 21 points in his past 15 games. He will need to fire up the Flyers for arguably their most important game of the season so far.

The Rangers powerplay is red hot at 6th in the NHL after a slow start. The Flyers on the other hand have killed off 22 consecutive penalties over the last seven games.

In a high stakes game The Flyers could move back into second place with a win of any kind against New York if the Capitals loss against Buffalo or if the Flyers take the game to OT

The Rangers could to rise from fourth to second and back into a playoff space.

Simmonds has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 12 games and looked back to his best on the PP. He certainly was not happy with the Flyers defensive display against Tampa last night.

“I think we played like garbage defensively,” Simmonds said. “I thought we had all the chances in the world offensively, we were clicking. We just have to get that defensive game back tight. We have to get it tight going again.”

I am betting on a low scoring tight checking game tonight which could swing the momentum of the Metropolitan division. OT anyone?

Flyers need consistency on six game road trip

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The Philadelphia Flyers will need to use their excellent home form as a catalyst to being more consistent on the road.

Nine straight home wins in a row has helped the Flyers into the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. In order to stay there they will have to be more consistent on the road, starting with Edmonton tonight.

Craig Berube understands the importance of the Flyers finding some consistency on the road. From NHL.COM;

“On the road we tend to not fall asleep but not push the issue enough at certain times,”

“And we end up letting our guard down a bit.”

“We need to be a .500-or-better team on the road,”

If we take a look at the six games the Flyers will play on this road trip they need to win three from six to meet Berube’s minimum expectation for the team.

Personally out of the six games Edmonton, Calgary and New Jersey seem the three to target, with Vancouver, Colorado and Phoenix also to play. I believe all six games are winnable and although it would be a big ask to win all six, the Flyers should win at least three.

No games will be easy and the Flyers need to find a way to make them hard to beat outside of the Wells Fargo. Edmonton have won their last two games against Winnipeg and Calgary, snapping a six game loosing streak.

If they can take the home form to the road then the Flyers can help establish themselves in a playoff spot.

What the fans would like to see is their team turn up for all three periods each game. A lack of concentration or effort on the road is not good enough to get you into the playoffs. Let’s hope that the Flyers have come to understand that too!

Trade Rumor: Isles & Flyers eye Pacioretty

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Pacioretty on his way out of Montreal?

Larry Brooks of the New York Post has mentioned a trade rumour that has certainly ruffled a few feathers.

“We’re told the Islanders and Flyers are taking serious runs at Pacioretty, who has a club-friendly contract worth $4.5 million per that runs through 2018-19, but Montreal GM Marc Bergevin isn’t prone to dealing him in the East — if he’s willing to deal him at all after the roster freeze melts after Friday night’s games.”

Pacioretty would obviously be a big asset on either team, which leads to the question why trade him? If Montreal is to trade him it will have to be for a significant return.

The Islanders don’t seem a great fit after trading their 1st rounder to acquire Thomas Vanek. I do not think the Islanders make this move unless it is a cheap option, which it won’t be!

The Flyers would want to build a deal around Hartnell or Simmonds. Montreal fans would be looking for either B.Schenn or Couturier in any return deal.

Pacioretty is the scoring winger the Flyers could do with on their top line with Giroux. However, the Flyers are not Pacioretty away from a Stanley Cup. They should be looking to keep their young players and rebuild through the draft.

This trade is not a good fit and I can not see it happening.

Mason gets Berube’s Flyers off to a winning start

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Steve Mason made 33 saves to lead the Flyers to victory

Steve Mason made 33 stops to help secure the Flyers first win of the season against the Florida Panthers 2-1.

It wasn’t the prettiest of games and neither of the Flyers goals are going to win goal of the season, but a win is a win!

The main reason for that win was the seller play of Steve Mason in net for the Flyers and the unfortunate play of Tim Thomas in the Florida net.

Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn scored the goals for the Flyers that were virtually carbon copies of each other. Schenn tapped in a rebound from a wide shot that cannoned off the boards and back into the slot. This appeared to injure Thomas who was unable to prevent the tamest of wrist shots from Braydon Coburn on another odd bounce off the boards.

From a Flyers perspective it was nice to see a bit of luck when things aren’t going your way. This is especially true against Thomas who has dominated in Philly, previously going 8-0.

Claude Giroux continued his dry spell without a point all season and in all honestly didn’t look like scoring, I am still skeptical about playing Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell on the first line with Giroux, who needs a more “technical” linemate to compliment his play. (I will save that for another article)

It’s nice to see Flyers net getting some positive praise rather than the other way around.

So well done Steve Mason!

Cleary not needed, Raffl, McGinn or Laughton?

Signed in Detroit

Flyers fans took a collective sigh of relief when the news came through that Dan Cleary has signed in Detroit for a further year according to NHL.com

“I’m sorry to everybody for the drama that was created. It’s just not my style,” Cleary told the team’s website after arriving in Traverse City, Mich. for training camp. “Social media at times can be frustrating, but that’s the world we live in and I apologize to all of the writers, the Philly writers, but I’m a Red Wing and I’m proud to be a Red Wing.”

Apart from making the Flyers look a little stupid there appears to be no hard feelings Dan and I wish you all the best in Detroit. Flyers fans can forget the previous article I wrote about why you being a Flyer was the wrong move for the organisation and we can move onto another more current issue.  Who should be filling the 3rd line left wing spot?

Holmgren has managed to see the light it seems and the position is open for competition according to csnphilly.com

“We were anxious to look at a few guys in that position anyway, so that’s certainly a good thing for us,” Holmgren said. “Tye McGinn, Mike Raffl…there’s a number of guys. Scott Laughton? Who knows? There should certainly be competition for a couple of spots up front I would think.”

Competition for spots is what I think is needed.  With a host of players ready to take the 3rd line spot I have evaluated the options below.

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Not wanted by front office?

Simon Gagné

The fans favorite would slot into the third line for the Flyers but has seemingly been ruled out by the front office.

“Holmgren also says Flyers “closed the door” on Gagne a couple days ago.” @sbaickerCSN

The Flyers seem set on a winger with a more physical presence and Gagné does not fit the bill. I would expect this position to be filled by a younger player coming through the system.

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Can the center play wing?

Scott Laughton

The Flyers number one prospect is my favorite to make the team this year providing he has a good camp. The Flyers know his potential as a two way player but there are doubts whether he can be a full time winger.

Laughton looked good in the five games he played last season and will be looking to make the jump to the senior team this season. If Laughton does not make the team Flyers fans will hope to see him play at the World Junior Championships.

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Fight for the spot on the wing?

Tye McGinn

McGinn would be a very versatile option for the Flyers if he is to make the team. Last season he even played on the top line with Giroux when Hartnell was injured.

This gives Lavi some flexibility with his lines as McGinn adds the physical presence that the Flyers are looking for in a winger. Out of all the options, if McGinn has a good camp I expect his experience last season to turn Lavi’s head.

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NHL ready?

Michael Raffl

A somewhat wildcard that the Flyers are riding high on Raffl is favored by some to claim the spot as his own. Playing on a line with Thomas Vanek at the IIHF World Championships has helped Raffl’s profile and the Flyers seem to believe he is NHL ready.

Whether he needs to spend some time in the AHL to adjust to the North American game remains to be seen. If he can adjust quickly in camp then the winger could be the natural selection ahead of McGinn and Laughton, especially if the Flyers believe Laughton needs more time to develop.

For now who gets the place it is too close to call. I like the idea of any of McGinn, Laughton or Raffl playing with the Flyers next season. Which leads me to ask, why were the Flyers interested in signing Dan Cleary in the first place?

Flyers overpay for Cleary

How much? Flyers add Dan Cleary.

Paul Holmgren has done something I never thought he would do again, surprise me. Several of his trades I have been dubious about but not since the day he sent Mike Richards packing have I been surprised with his flamboyant trades and signings.

According to NHL.com Dan Cleary will be signing in Philly:

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reported Monday night that the veteran left wing will sign a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers worth an average of $2.75 million per year. The deal is not expected to become official until the end of the month, according to St. James.

Now there are several elements about this deal that I do not like but I could go on forever. Instead I have broken down the four most prominent issues I have with the deal to try and understand Holmgren’s rationale.

  1. Not re-signing Simon Gagné. 
    As a result of signing Cleary Holmgren has ended any chance of the Flyers re-signing Gagné for next season. Not only a fans favorite, Gagné re-found his form on the ice scoring in his first game returning from the LA Kings. Gagné is a better offensive player who the players and fans both look up to.
  2. The cap hit.
    $2.75 a year is too much money. If this was a bargain end of window deal then this article would have a completely different feel. This deal puts the Flyers further over the cap hit and means that they will have to dump salary somewhere. Andrej Meszaros would be my first choice but that brings us onto my next point.
  3. Another forward at the expense of defense?
    With the Flyers needing to add speed on the blueline Dan Cleary’s arrival will likely mean the salary dump of a defenseman. The Flyers struggled getting the puck out of their zone last season and trading an injury prone PMD for a 3rd line winger with dodgy knee’s makes no sense. Meszaros’ trade value can only rise and Holmgren will get very little if anything in return for Meszaros or whoever he chooses to trade.
  4. 3 years?!
    I can only assume that Holmgren forgot that he has used his buy-outs this season as this is the only logical explanation for giving Cleary a 3 year contract. Luckily it’s not another 35+ contract; $2.75m is an over-payment especially for 3 years.

I could add several other reasons but these are the main four that came to mind. Cleary is a good locker room guy and will add some grit to the 3rd line with Sean Couturier. I truly hope that Holmgren knows something that other Flyers fans don’t and proves me wrong.

Flyers Add Defensive Depth with Manning

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Yesterday, the Flyers signed restricted free agent defenseman Brandon Manning to a one-year, two-way contract. CSN Philadelphia reports it is worth $675,000.

I like the way that Manning has stepped his game up in the 6 games that he played for the Flyers last season and he has been rewarded with a new contract.

With the Flyers drafting high on defense this season it is great to see them tie up some of their current younger defenseman on an ageing blueline.

Manning is only 23 and has a good level of experience with the Phantoms playing 65 games last season posting 40 points (12 G, 28 A) with 216 PIM.

With all the injury worries of last season’s defense, Philly are smart to make sure they have depth needed. If likely candidate for injury “paper thin” Andrej Meszaros or anyone else from defense gets hurt, Manning should be able to plug the hole. Let’s hope he kicks on from last season and makes a case for himself in training camp!