Archives For flyers

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Or so he says.

As we’ve mentioned a few times, Craig Berube’s Game 1 strategy was a wait-and-see, dump-and-chase approach. He instructed his forwards – specifically the Orange and Black Line – to dump the puck in Ryan McDonagh’s general direction, take him off of it, and then try to score while he licks his wounds. It worked. Once. And then there was a whole lot of nothing.

So what to do for Game 2? The exact opposite, apparently. Berube told reporters today that the Flyers will try to skate the puck into the zone and rely on fewer dump-ins.

But will they really? Now we’re getting into head game territory. The Flyers are well aware that it is quite difficult to gain the blue line carrying the puck against Rangers defenders. So why would they try? And why would they tell the Rangers they’re doing it? I call BS. And I still stick by my street hockey philosophy to beat a stingy defenseman– taking a slap shot at his face.

Also: Steve Mason practiced today. So… that’s looking good for Sunday. But the problem isn’t defense and goaltending against the Rangers. It’s biscuitizing the basket.

Uh Oh

Kyle Scott —  April 18, 2014 — 70 Comments
Photo credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start off with a positive– the only one from Game 1.

The Flyers’ first goal was a thing of beauty and it was exactly how Craig Berube drew it up. Here’s what Frank Seravalli wrote in the Dailly News yesterday, describing Chief’s intended ritual. I’ve accompanied the quote with screenshots:

In one word, Berube described the style he wants Claude Giroux, Voracek and Scott Hartnell to play against McDonagh as “unfulfilling.” Unless they have a clear break to carry it in the offensive zone, Berube has instructed his players to dump the puck in New York’s end…

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particularly in McDonagh’s direction…

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to see whether they can pin the should-be Norris Trophy candidate behind his net…

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and create scoring opportunities that way.

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Beautiful, Craig. Now, about the rest of the game.

I know we all want to Akes Jason a question. Why, rookie, did you two-hand Carl Hagelin in the face and take a four-minute double-minor that effectively cost your team the game? But as much as we’d like to blame Jason Akeson for that play, we can’t. I’ve watched it 20 times now and there’s just no way you can really find fault with what he did. He was actually back-checking really well on the play. He caught up to Hagelin in the neutral zone and tried to remove him from the puck. It didn’t work. Too much intensity, too little size. But Akeson played a good game. Though I don’t think he played as well as everyone – on the broadcast, post-game show and Twitter – was giving him credit for. He stood out because we were paying attention and because he looked like he belonged. Good for him, but you should look like you belong in a playoff game. It’s maddening that the Flyers went out and acquired Steve Downie during the season to add some firepower and then scratched him in a playoff game in favor of a guy who had never been to New York. That’s right, this was Akeson’s first time in New York City. “Skyscraper after skyscraper,” he told reporters. Golly gee. He automatically flunks one of my character tests: never trust an adult who’s never been to New York. It’s… weird. Especially for a professional athlete. Sometimes you just have to go to New York by accident. Sometimes you have a connecting flight in Newark and take the train over for a few hours. Sometimes you’re Kevin McAllister and your family is in Florida and you’re in New York. Shit happens. But it’s weird that you’ve never been to Manhattan, Jason.

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Now he’s playing in a playoff game at Madison Square Garden. What could go wrong? Well, he could let emotions get the best of him and lose control. It’s… exactly the sort of thing you worry about when a guy is playing in his first meaningful game ever. And that’s what happened. It’s not Akeson’s fault– he played fine. But why, if you think you might use a guy on the power play in the playoffs, wouldn’t you give him more burn during the season? Why didn’t you take him to New York and show him Times Square? It doesn’t make much sense.

As for the rest of the game: The Flyers were fine up until the penalty. They were getting outplayed by the Rangers, but, like Berube wanted, they were being patient. The Rangers’ shots were coming mostly from the outside. The Flyers had chances, too. It was a winnable game. They could’ve stolen Game 1. But it was over once the Rangers took the lead. The Flyers completely fell apart. Not a great effort overall, but a horrible third period. They have to win on Sunday.

Impressively, this was put together by a Rangers fan.

Playoffs, baby.

via Matt Brauckmann on Youtube

Don’t love all the old footage, but it works.

via James Peterson on YouTube

Bonus creepy Wolf of Broad Street video after the jump: Continue Reading…

Well, I suppose this is better than becoming a Mac Miller fan. The Flyers are wearing started from the bottom now we’re here* t-shirts.

The sleeve says Disciple. Desire. Dedication.

Lots of gimmicks. Now we just need a win or two…

*There’s a 0% chance that any beat writers other than Seravalli, Dave Isaac and Sarah Baicker know what the hell that means. I can just picture Sam Carchidi asking, “Now you’re where? And do you think that’s a concern moving forward?”

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Strange move by Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell, both of whom dyed their beards black. I was a big fan of the orange(-ish) look, since it meant that virtually every Flyer had their beard color matched to the center of the Crest… but, I kind of like this. It’s somewhat terrifying. Jake looks like he may kill children and eat them. And Hartnell looks like a pirate. It’s all just the right amount of quirky. Oh, and perhaps best part? The Hartnell-Giroux-Voracek line can now be called the Orange and Black Line.

Side note: It’s going to be a real awkward conversation with Ms. CB when I tell her that I need to dye my beard black in advance of our wedding.

UPDATE: G said he has no plans to join them. Perfect.

pics via Sarah Baicker (@sbaickerCSN), the only beat who thought to take a decent picture

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I AM HERE, TO BRING YOU ALL OF MY PLAYOFF MUSHINESS.

Eagles-Saints:

That said, the best part of this is the get inside their heads factor. Everyone keeps talking about it, so it must be true! Let’s change the music, change the wardrobe, change the food! If there’s one advantage the Eagles have this week, it’s that Saints players may be starting to believe that Old Man Winter dislikes teams that play their home games in a building with a roof. Oh, and then there’s the fact that the Eagles are a much better team right now.

St. Joe’s-UCONN:

Villanova-UCONN:

“They should beat UCONN. They should beat them by a lot.”

 

Last night, Penguins down 3-1:

So with that, I bring you my Flyers-Rangers playoff prediction.

Not sure why everyone is so bearish on the Flyers right now. I mean, sure, their goalie has a mysterious head-neck injury and didn’t even feel well enough to take a train to New York. They haven’t won at Madison Square Garden seemingly since Eric Lindros did this:

The offense is spurty. The defense is inconsistent. And, in an intense series, Zac Rinaldo will be in serious danger of committing a felony. But besides that, things are actually looking up!

I did a little math yesterday (and yes, it did make my head hurt), and what I found was that since December 11, when the Flyers had an 18.39% chance of making the playoffs after they lost to the Blackhawks, 7-2, the OB have the seventh-most points (65) in the league and second-most in the conference, behind only Boston (73) and Pittsburgh (66). In other words, they have been a top team in the conference and among the best in the league for a large portion of the season.

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Since February 1, when the Flyers started a hellish stretch and had only a 32.87% chance of making the playoffs, the numbers are even more impressive: they are tied for the fifth-most points (34) in the league and second-most in the conference, behind, you guessed it, Boston (44, which is absurd).

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The Flyers haven’t been world-beaters, by any stretch, but they’ve put together an impressive run over the final two months of the season, against really tough competition: Kings (twice), Sharks (twice), Avalanche, Rangers (twice), Penguins (three times), Blackhawks, Stars, Blues (twice) and Bruins (twice). And that’s just over the course of 27 games since February 1. Not bad.

As for their first round competition? The Flyers and Rangers split four games this season, 2-2. Each team won twice at home. Everyone is just freaked out because the Flyers haven’t won in New York in three years. But so what? These teams are as evenly matched as it comes. Just because the Flyers stunk last year and struggled against the Rangers in 2011-2012 doesn’t mean they can’t win a game in New York. All it takes is one. I’d be less worried about playing in New York and more worried about Claude Giroux besting Ryan McDonagh. And how, exactly, could that be done? Frank Seravalli explains in an excellent article in the Daily News today:

In one word, Berube described the style he wants Claude Giroux, Voracek and Scott Hartnell to play against McDonagh as “unfulfilling.” Unless they have a clear break to carry it in the offensive zone, Berube has instructed his players to dump the puck in New York’s end, particularly in McDonagh’s direction, to see whether they can pin the should-be Norris Trophy candidate behind his net and create scoring opportunities that way.

Fred Shero employed that tactic 40 years ago on Bobby Orr when the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup. But for a 2014 Flyers team that has evolved into a more possession-conscious team, this will be a marked change of pace.

“You can’t let him force turnovers at the blue line, because he’s just a killer,” Berube said. “It’s kind of an unfulfilling way for a player to play – because you don’t want to give the puck up. I talked to our team today about grinding it out. Just wait for your opportunities.

“To try to beat him wide with speed, other than Voracek, [McDonagh is] probably going to win that battle a lot of times.”

That, or G can employ my street hockey technique for beating a stingy defenseman– take a slap shot at his face.

Flyers in 6. Adjust your panic accordingly.