Posts for nhl

How in the World is Vegas’ Success “Bad” for the NHL?

Kevin Kinkead - May 21, 2018

I was browsing Twitter dot com this morning when I came across Anthony Gargano’s opinion on the Las Vegas Golden Knights:

“It’s about real fandom.”

Hmm, alright, I disagree, but I’ll play along.

Sure, it’s not like Las Vegas hockey fans are desperate for the Stanley Cup. They haven’t been waiting since 1967, like Toronto fans. They aren’t St. Louis, Vancouver, Buffalo, or Washington, who have never won a title. They aren’t any of the eight other teams that joined the NHL after 1979 and still haven’t won a cup.

By the same token, I’d assume Flyers fans, who have been waiting since 1975, would at least be annoyed to see an expansion team cruising through the playoffs while enduring a slow rebuild under Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol.

So if you wanna roll your eyes at Vegas’ success or say it’s “corny,” I get that. It’s corny that a brand new team comes into the league and rips off a bunch of wins while diehard fans of traditional hockey teams get to enjoy another first-round playoff exit.

But I’m not sure what fandom really has to do with anything. Is there some rule in place that you have to suffer through 20 years of losing before you’re allowed to win? Do you have to “pay your dues?” Do you have to endure a Joe Jurevicius or Rodney Harrison situation before Nick Foles comes along? It’s such a Philadelphia way of thinking, that a “low” must predate a “high,” and if it doesn’t, it’s somehow not authentic.

People have somehow twisted the Vegas story into a narrative that “this is bad for the NHL,” and I don’t know why that’s being tossed around. I find the story compelling. I’m watching the playoffs with more interest than ever before.

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Reporter Says “Video Game Addiction” is Killing NHL Prospect’s Career

Kevin Kinkead - May 18, 2018

There’s a picture of me from college where I’m playing guitar while watching Big East basketball and I’ve got Diablo 2 on the computer behind me.

That was pretty much life, ya know? Instead of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, it was sports, video games, and rock and roll.

Although I guess Diablo 2 could have been labeled a “drug” back then, since I put days of my life into it. I was addicted. And that’s apparently the case with an NHL prospect who can’t seem to shake it.

The story was told by NHL reporter Jeff Marek on a SportsNet podcast called “31 thoughts”

“On video games—and I’m not going to say the player’s name. I really doubt he’s going to make it to the NHL, and it’s because of a video game addiction, to the point where his junior general manager told me that they’ve had him go to counseling over it, because he’ll play until all hours of the night and into the morning and then he’ll have no energy the next day. Like, he’ll be a write-off. And it is that bad. He has this compulsion for playing video games until all hours. I swore that I wouldn’t say the player’s name, but it’s unfortunate. He’s a recent first-round draft pick for a very, very prominent NHL team, will probably never play in the NHL because of a video game addiction.”

Marek says the story dates back a few months, so apparently this guy has been addicted for some time.

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The “Philly Fan” Myth Will Never Die, Will It?

Tim Reilly - April 26, 2018

Toward the end of the Flyers’ dispiriting Game 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a number of fans saw the looming specter of another premature playoff exit and decided they had enough – to drink. As Penguins winger Bryan Rust slid the puck into the Flyers’ empty net to put his team up by a score of 8-5, beer cans rained down on the Wells Fargo Center Ice.

“There’s heavy artillery flying all over down here,” analyst Pierre McGuire reported. A lengthy delay ensued as the Flyers ice crew worked quickly to clear the playing surface.

It didn’t take long for the criticisms to roll in from the social media universe. “Flyers fans throwing things on the ice: a playoff tradition like no other,” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski tweeted. Even Pittsburgh radio host and columnist Mark Madden, who is a big fan of Crossing Broad, took a shot at the Flyers’ fan base:

Madden’s assessment was more or less in line with other Twitter reactions to the scene. And then there were the media takes, like this offering from Pittsburgh 97.3 The Fan’s Colin Dunlap. “Flyers fans are trash. Philadelphia fans, by and large, are trash,” Dunlap declared in a piece that could have used an editor. The Washington Post‘s Cindy Boren called the display “one of the most Philly fan things ever.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Jason Mackey reported that Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was incensed by the antics of the crowd.

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The First of Many Postmortems: An Assessment of the Flyers in 29 Steps

Anthony SanFilippo - April 23, 2018

My first thought was to be reactionary.

After the Flyers season came to a crashing end Sunday in a classic Flyers manner – blowing a two goal lead – it was easy to put the target on this team, who ended up playing 88 games this season, winning 44 of them and losing 44 of them, as still not being ready for prime time.

It would be easy to target the coach – as I have for much of the season. The goaltending – for the umpteenth time. The defense – for their inherent lack of ability in getting the puck out of their own zone. The star players – who couldn’t score.

It would be easy to target all the negatives – and some negatives deserve to be highlighted – but the biggest takeaway of all of this is that even though the Flyers took a small step forward – making the playoffs after a one season hiatus, and doing so with a lot of young players in the lineup, there is still a long way to go before they can compete with the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that’s the one thing that is going to make the upcoming offseason so crucial for the Flyers. They need to finally address holes in their roster via trades and free agency and need to stop trying to get by with band aids – marginal NHL veterans who provide no scoring punch.

It’s almost certain that a number of players who played in Sunday’s loss won’t be back. This Flyers team will have a much different look to it when training camp begins five months from now, but will it have a different feel? Or will we still look at how the roster has been put together and consider them a borderline playoff team, much as they have been the past six seasons, which includes three first round exits and three seasons where they missed the playoffs entirely?

So, I thought, let’s examine this roster, the impact each player had on this first round loss to Pittsburgh and what the future holds.

But, before we do, some telling statistics:

  • The Flyers allowed eight goals in an elimination game for the fifth time in franchise history (1979, 1982 [nine goals], 1985, 2001, 2018). That’s a lot.
  • The Penguins scored at least five goals in eight of the 10 games played against the Flyers this season, and all five of the games played in Philadelphia. That’s got to be considered completely unacceptable.
  • The Flyers allowed 28 goals in the six games against the Penguins – tying a franchise record for most goals allowed in a playoff series and setting a franchise record for any series fewer than seven games.
  • Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the series clincher against the Flyers, becoming the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1989 to score four goals in a playoff game against the Flyers (Lemieux had five).
  • Guentzel and Sidney Crosby each finished the series with six goals and seven assists for 13 points – more than two points per game, as the Flyers had no answer for their line.
  • Game 6 was the first time the Flyers lost a playoff game under Dave Hakstol where the team scored more than one goal. in his previous seven losses, the Flyers were shut out four times and scored one goal three times.
  • Continuing on the last bullet, in Hakstol’s four career playoff wins, the Flyers have outscored their opponents 13-4. In Hakstol’s eight losses, the Flyers have been outscored 38-8.

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A Lack of “Sticktoitiveness” – Breaking Down the Real Reason the Flyers Lost Game 3 to the Penguins.

Anthony SanFilippo - April 16, 2018

It was a common theme.

Each player in the locker room said it.

The coach reiterated it, ad nauseam, during his nearly 10-minute press conference.

The Flyers lost Game 3 to the Penguins 5-1 because of a lack of discipline.

I’m here to tell you that while giving Pittsburgh’s potent power play seven chances (of which they scored on three times) is certainly a way to lose a game, it wasn’t where the game was lost.

Nope. The game was lost in the locker room between the first and second period – before all the penalties started piling up.

The game was lost after the Flyers played perhaps their best period of the hockey season and had nothing to show for it.

A great game plan by Dave Hakstol blew up in smoke and went out the window pretty quickly in the second period when the Flyers stopped believing in the process.

A 1-0 deficit after 20 minutes – even the most energized 20-minutes of the season – wasn’t the culprit either. It was just one goal. The result of one bad decision – the only one of the first period – and the Flyers picked up where they left off immediately after it, so it wasn’t the deflating element.

No, the downfall for the Flyers was the fact that they couldn’t finish their chances – and they had a bevy of them – in the opening 20 minutes. They were in full throttle mode for 20 minutes and couldn’t crack Matt Murray and the Penguins defense – which blocked a ton of shots, yet again.

So, in the second period, the Flyers started a little more tentatively. And when you’re tentative in the playoffs, it leads to mistakes – in this case, stick infractions, that led to a parade of penalties.

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Losing by a Touchdown: Five failures of the Flyers in their 7-0 Game One Loss

Anthony SanFilippo - April 12, 2018

There are bad losses…. and then there was last night.

The Flyers were as ill-prepared for the start of the playoffs as any team I have ever seen. It was as embarrassing to watch as I’m sure it was to participate.

Sure, it’s easy to say it’s just one game and that the Penguins could win 20-0 or 3-2 and it all counts the same… blah, blah, blah – shove that crap logic right back down your gullet from whence it came.

The fact of the matter was something emphatically pointed out yesterday – the Penguins are a playoff-tested team and the Flyers are not yet ready for prime time.

From the guys dressed in suits to the guys wearing skates, there wasn’t one person prepared for the avalanche that was coming their way.

The Flyers seemed to think this series was going to start a lot more like a boxing match – where the first round is a bit of a feeling out process. Throw a couple jabs, take a couple, and really get a sense of how each team is going to play before it settles in.

Uh, that was an epic misread on their part.

Instead, the Penguins were like, “screw that” and came out of the gates like the thoroughbred team they are, and didn’t stop. And won’t stop.

I know a lot of you younger folks are skeptical when us graybeards tell you that experienced teams and talented teams know how to elevate their game to a whole new level and that young teams often have a hard time matching that.

I know it’s a very old school way of thinking because we live in a world where the younger generations are a bunch of doubting Thomases and need empirical evidence for absolutely everything before they even consider accepting a statement as true, or even mostly true (you ever watch the news with the fact-checkers? They need to qualify something as mostly true or mostly false and can’t just accept true or false with qualifiers anymore… it’s maddening…. OK, back to hockey).

Anyway… when we say players are “red light players” or that they can just “flip the switch” and dominate games because we’ve seen it, we mean it.

And if you want empirical evidence, I give you the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.

That, friends, is what great teams can do. I hate to admit it, because there’s a lot of things I really don’t like about the Penguins…

(For example, and this is not indicative of anything, but just an anecdote I will share – after the game last night, a Philadelphia reporter was chastised by members of the Penguins public relations staff for accidentally stepping on the Penguins logo in their locker room because it’s “bad luck.” 

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and to be fair, the Penguins are not alone with this, as other teams have this asinine tradition, too.

And you know what I say to these teams and the members of the logo-protecting Gestapo that they employ? If you don’t want someone stepping on your logo, then don’t put it on the damn floor! And seriously, it’s a freaking piece of carpet, you morons. It’s not like it’s some old heirloom from underneath Sidney Crosby’s dryer that he used to shoot pucks into in Nova Scotia growing up – as if it was some sort of sign from above that he was destined to lead the Penguins to Stanley Cup glory, no… it’s new. It was put in when the building opened a few years back. It has no historical value whatsoever. It’s a rug. Stop being so bleeping self-righteous about it. Damn.)

… but the Penguins are a great team.

Yes, I said on the Snow the Goalie podcast (subscribe/rate/review… thanks!) that they aren’t the same Penguins team that won the last two Stanley Cups. And their depth is good, but not as good as previous years. Their defense is pedestrian and goalie Matt Murray has been shaky all season.

And yet, in Game 1, they looked every bit as dominant as they were the last two seasons.

As is always the case in the playoffs, you can throw all your analysis (old school eye tests and new school analytics, both) out the window because it’s a different game. It’s a different season. And none of that stuff from the regular season really matters.

Great teams know how to win. Especially against not-so-great teams. Sadly for Flyers fans, the local boys in orange and black are the latter.

Everything that has plagued the Flyers for the past three months, three years, hell, three decades, was on display last night.

Here are five of them:

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Is Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh Really a Rivalry?

Kevin Kinkead - April 11, 2018

I haven’t written anything about the Flyers this year because I don’t know anything about ice hockey. That’s Anthony’s beat anyway. He’s got you covered.

What I do know is that I hate Sidney Crosby and his fat face. I hate his smug demeanor and childish attitude and his 89 points. I hate his three Stanley Cups and his seven All-Star selections and his pair of Conn Smythe and Hart Trophies.

When it comes to Pittsburgh, however, that’s about it. Obviously Wawa is better than Sheetz, and it’s “soda,” not “pop,” but I really don’t dislike anything else about the Steel City.

But it’s not about me, it’s about you, the readers of Crossing Broad dot com, who overwhelming said that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are not rivals:

Seems accurate to me.

When you go down the list of sports teams, it’s hard to find a ton of meaning:

Penguins/Flyers

Metropolitan Division rivals. Frequent games, playoff history, exciting matchups.

Steelers/Eagles

One AFC team, one NFC team. Infrequent games, no playoff matchups even possible outside of the Super Bowl.

Pirates/Phillies

It used to be something special before the Pirates moved to the National League Central back in 1994. You could go back to the 70s and find 10 NLCS appearances between the two teams, an era of success that saw the Pirates win it all twice (’71 and ’79’) and the Phillies once (1980). It’s been tempered since then, and when the Pirates began to turn the corner about five or six years ago, the Phils were sliding back to mediocrity after the 2008 and 2009 World Series appearances.

Sixers/no one

Pittsburgh doesn’t have an NBA team.

Union/no one

No MLS team, but Pittsburgh does have a USL team, the Riverhounds, who play Bethlehem Steel a few times a year.

Colleges 

Pitt kind of sucks in all sports now, so it’s hard to find meaning there. They don’t play Temple or Villanova anymore, and those football and basketball games weren’t rivalries anyway. What else is out there? Duquesne? Carnegie Mellon? The Point Park Pioneers?

I think that’s it, really, it’s just the Penguins and Flyers for real substance and meaning.

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Hart Trick: How the Should-Be MVP Claude Giroux Carried the Flyers to a Playoff Matchup with the Penguins

Anthony SanFilippo - April 8, 2018

Sometimes, the best players in their sports raise their level higher than you ever thought possible to will their team to victory.

For the Flyers, their Hart Trophy-deserving captain Claude Giroux did something he had never done before in 738 career regular season games to ensure a must-win game was, in fact, a victory.

Giroux registered his first career regular season hat trick and in turn became just the sixth Flyer in franchise history to eclipse the 100-point plateau as the Flyers dismantled the New York Rangers 5-0 in the final game of the regular season Saturday.

The win catapulted the Flyers into the playoffs for the 39th time in 50 seasons played, and set up yet another series with the hated Pittsburgh Penguins that will begin sometime later this week.

We’ll dive into that pairing a little bit later in this post, only because it would be a disservice to Giroux to not focus on him first.

After all, the guy has put together one of the best Flyers seasons in history, and arguably could be the best.

I know what you’re thinking. He had a good season, but the best in Flyers’ history?

I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical of my own thoughts at first. But the more I considered it, and the more I compared it to the other great seasons in Flyers history, it became more and more apparent that the 82 games we just watched Claude Giroux play, may have, in fact, been the best ever by one Flyers player.

And at worst, it was second-best.

To test my theory, I sat down with Hall of Fame reporter and Flyers historian Jay Greenberg to discuss the contenders. We narrowed it down to these:

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