Posts for rangers

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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By the Skin of Their Teeth: Thoughts After Flyers 4, Rangers 3

Anthony SanFilippo - March 23, 2018

Excuse the Flyers if they weren’t too celebratory about their win over the New York Rangers last night.

Yes, it was a big win. Yes, it was probably the win that in a couple weeks we will look back on and say was the one that ultimately secured them a playoff berth.

With another mini-stretch of tough games on the horizon, and the teams behind them making up most of their games in hand in the next week, it was a win of absolute necessity.

But it wasn’t pretty.

It took a strong effort from goalie Alex Lyon to keep them from losing a second straight game to a non-playoff team. It took some more next-level speed and agility from their budding star winger Travis Konecny to spark the offense – despite the fact that he was curiously missing from the ice for most of the third period. It took another three-point night from the captain, Claude Giroux, who might well be the most important player to his team in the entire NHL this season.

Beyond that, though, you pretty much held your nose to avoid the odor and also to hold your breath that an unwanted, in-game collapse wouldn’t take place.

OK, Ok… the second line was decent on the whole – Jake Voracek scored a goal on a great individual effort and Oskar Lindblom did register his second NHL goal cleaning up the rebound of a good shot by Nolan Patrick, but really, on the whole, the Flyers were out-skated by the Rangers. They were out out-worked by the Rangers. And the Rangers have nothing to play for while the Flyers definitely do.

It’s hard to be critical after a win. The Flyers did what they had to do and earned two very big points in the standings. They gave themselves a comfortable cushion again, and reduce their magic number over New Jersey to 13 points (either earned by the Flyers or lost by the Devils) and 14 points over Florida.

That may seem like a lot, with seven games to go, but it could be reduced to nine and 12 respectively by the time the Flyers take the ice again in Pittsburgh on Sunday – and they only need to finish ahead of one of those teams to make the playoffs.

Not only that, the Flyers have again climbed within a point of second place Pittsburgh and could well head north in the standings if they can get their act together.

It’s as if they’re fighting a war on two fronts. They are simultaneously in a battle with Pittsburgh and Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division as they are with New Jersey and Florida for the two Eastern Conference Wild Card spots, with one team going to end up on the outside looking in (my forecast has New Jersey missing the playoffs at this point).

And yet, despite all of this, the focus after the game wasn’t really on the positive (except for Lyon, who continues to be a solid relief pitcher of sorts for the Flyers, playing his best games when he has to put out fires).

No, instead, everyone talked about how uneven the team played. How there are still too many mistakes happening. How they still need to play better.

And, of course, there was always the questioning of the coach’s rationale for the in-game decisions he makes – although this time he gave a very direct and fair answer to questions about his in-game choices – even if I still don’t agree with it.

It’s a lot to tackle, so let’s do it one at a time.

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Lather, Rinse, Repeat – Same Old, Same Old After Rangers 5, Flyers 1

Anthony SanFilippo - January 17, 2018

I usually don’t have an agenda when writing about the Flyers.

It is my intention to always provide an informed opinion or analysis based on data or conversation with people in the know – even if the opinion is unpopular.

But heading into last night’s game in New York – I will admit – I had it in my head that I was going to write a story with a specific, predetermined angle.

I was going to sit down at the keyboard and tell you how impressed I have been of late with the Flyers. After coming back from a bye and playing a very strong game against New Jersey Saturday. I was going to talk about Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek being overlooked as All-Stars in the NHL this year. I was going to talk about the improved play of young guys like Travis Konecny, Jordan Weal, and Nolan Patrick.

I had the whole thing planned in advance. It was going to be the perfect catapult into the lovefest that will be the Eric Lindros number retirement ceremony tomorrow night.

Then the game happened.

The Flyers were completely outworked and buried by a divisional opponent – in a matchup that is critical to the playoff race, no less – for the second time in six games.

And my plan was blown to smithereens.

It’s no wonder I tend to skew toward skepticism with this team.

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The Rangers Just Made a Ridiculous Trade

Kyle Scott - March 5, 2014

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The Rangers and Lightning swapped captains. The Rangers will send Ryan Callahan – who, for some reason, was never really appreciated in NY (I frigging love him as a player) – a first and second round pick to the Lightning for Martin St. Louis.

Callahan will be a free agent this summer and reportedly his asking price was too high for the Rangers. St. Louis is having a really good season, but, at 38 and having played in the Olympics, you have to wonder if he’ll run out of gas during a playoff run. He’ll give the Rangers more firepower, for sure, but Callahan is a very good well-rounded player. Trading someone like that at this point of the season doesn’t make sense to me. And they sent two draft picks to the Lightning. What?

St. Louis has a year left on his deal.

The Rangers will receive a conditional pick if the Lightning sign Callahan this summer.

Skate Bites: Floundering Flyers Fall For Fifth Time

Kyle Scott - January 30, 2013


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Also, Flyers fail on fucking faceoffs.

F.

Just 34% of faceoffs won. This Tweet, from HockeyBuzz’s Bill Meltzer, I like: 

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Bryz: Played well. He is eighth in the league in goals against and eighth in the league in save percentage. Credit where it’s due. He’s kept the Flyers in several games that they had no business being a part of. Now, if only the cap…

Giroux: EA Sports, seemingly soothsayers, put out this missing persons poster back in September:

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Have you seen this man?!

Knuble? He's still a good guy. 

Positives? Danny Briere had 10 shots on goal last night and the Flyers committed only three penalties. 

The Flyers are now 2-5, though they’re only two points behind the Rangers and Penguins. Post-game highlights and such here.

Reminder: Flyers quizzo tonight at Chickie's and Pete's in Drexel Hill.

Skate Bites: A Win, More Injuries

Kyle Scott - January 25, 2013


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“I don’t know exactly what does it means, “Flyers hockey”– but I like the way the team played tonight, and I think we deserved to win tonight. Because guys play unbelievable, the team looks sharp in crease. It was a great sacrifice made, guys blocking the shots. Nobody cheats. I can’t say enough words here. It was a just great game tonight.” – Ilya Bryzgalov
 

He followed up that awesome quote by chiding Paul Jolovich for repeating a question that was already asked. Perfect.

But back to the Flyers Hockey thing: Finally someone answered the question, “Was that [team name] [sport]?” the right way. Was that Flyers hockey? Was that Phillies baseball? Was that Villanova basketball? Was that Eagles football? That means nothing, and Bryz answered it perfectly: No, we just played really well.

And so they did. A win. Against the Rangers. How’s that Jam taste, John Tortorella?

Some notes, from the Flyers city-leading (three years running!) PR department:

Tonight’s win snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Rangers.  The Flyers’ last win over the Rangers came almost two years ago, on February 20, 2011.

The line of Tye McGinn (22 years and 5 months), Sean Couturier (20 years, 1 month) and Scott Laughton (18 years, 7 months) had an average age of 20 years, 4 months and was comprised entirely of players born in the 1990s.

Giroux was 10-for-22 (45 percent) on faceoffs tonight, but his 52 faceoffs won on the season and 93 faceoffs taken both currently rank second in the NHL behind Tyler Bozak’s 62 and 103, pending the end of tonight’s games.

 

On that last point: Did anyone else get the sense that Claude Giroux kept telling teammates to ice the puck in the final minute? Hey, fuckin’, just ice it. I’ll win the faceoff and we’ll just keep doing that. That’s the sort of thing captains do. It’s not always about goal scoring and making big hits, it’s giving your teammates confidence that you’ll be there to back them up or bail them out, though that latter term seems harsh. I get the sense it was the Flyers’ strategy to ice it two consecutive times in the final minute.

Now, of course, the bad news. Paul Holmgren on Scott Hartnell and Zac Rinaldo:

Q: How about Scott Hartnell?

A: We sort of know what it is, a broken first metatarsal in his left foot. Right now we’re trying to decide, we’re talking to the doctor about the best way to proceed with it, in terms of how to approach it. I can’t give you a time frame, it’s probably, gonna be between four to eight weeks depending on how significant the injury is.

Q: Any update on Zac Rinaldo? 

A: He skated today, some tightness though, it feels like a charlie horse to him, the wound has actually healed up fairly quickly.  He’s unlikely to play at all over the weekend.

 

Andrej Meszaros and his writhing in pain after the second period? He’ll be reevaluated today, but he was seen with a harness on his left shoulder after the game. I’m guessing it was a dislocation, maybe worse.

All the injuries – especially Hartnell’s – led to the Flyers signing Mike Knuble. Who didn’t see that coming from 1,000 miles away? When our old friend Steve Whyno (former Flyers beat writer, now Washington Times Caps scriptual) wrote, on January 9, that Knuble still didn’t have a home, I immediately thought that he would wind up in Philadelphia, because, after all, the Flyers love signing their former players at the end of their careers. For realsies, they should ™ that shit. Mark Recchi. Ruslan Fedotenko. Ron Hextall. Brian Boucher (17 times). Knuble. That list could go on forever. They take care of their own. Nothing wrong with that, either. Especially when it comes to good-guy Knuble, who Whyno continuously calls “the best human on Earth.” Maybe. But I’d be fine with the best aging power forward to score ugly Scott Hartnell goals for a few months on Earth.

Roy Oswalt Refused to Pitch a Third Inning for the Rangers Yesterday

Kyle Scott - August 6, 2012

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Back in 2010, Cliff Lee wound up and excelled with the Texas Rangers, leading them to what was his second-straight World Series, against the Giants, while the Phillies sat at home. For me and my man crush, it was all very difficult to watch: Lee, blanking the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS and taking the mound for Game 1 of the World Series.  

When Roy Oswalt signed with the Rangers a few months ago, I thought, here we go again. Another mercenary Phillie turned Ranger who we’d still love to have in the rotation.

Well, things aren’t going as well for Oswalt in the Lone Star State.

He’s pitched 38 innings, has a 5.82 ERA and what would easily be his career-high WHIP, 1.60. Last week, he was moved to the bullpen and, apparently, doesn’t like it there.

Oswalt and his agent have expressed as much to the Rangers. And the media. Allen Iverson Oswalt told reporters, "I'm a starter. I'm not really a bullpen guy." But it all really came to head yesterday, when Oswalt refused to pitch a third inning in relief: [Dallas News]

Roy Oswalt pitched two perfect innings in relief for the Rangers on just 30 pitches Sunday, three days after two solid relief innings.

And that apparently exhausted him.

Manager Ron Washington was ready to send Oswalt back out for the ninth inning of what was then a tie game, but Oswalt declined. Washington, who was operating down two relievers (Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando) and trying to protect a third (Tanner Scheppers) didn’t push the issue. It was the third time Oswalt had pitched in a seven-day span. By the end of his second inning, he’d pitched 9.1 innings in that stretch and thrown 150 pitches.

“He said he couldn’t go any further,” Washington said. “He said he had enough. To get anymore, you have to ask him.”

 

Yikes. Stuff like this makes it fair to question Oswalt’s motives. Before being traded to Philly, it was reported that he wasn’t too interested in pitching for a big market team in the Northeast. For the most part, though, things went well here and Oswalt won fans over when he played left field in an extra innings game in 2010. But, last year, his taking a week off to help his Mississippi community recover from the devastation of a tornado rubbed some folks (me) the wrong way. Oswalt’s family was unhurt and his home wasn’t damaged. And while he may have had the biggest tractor in his state, he was being paid millions to pitch for the Phillies. He came back with a back injury and was inconsistent the rest of the season. He later told reporters that – perhaps rightfully – baseball was third or fourth on his list of priorities.  

Anyway, that brings us back to yesterday, when an unhappy Oswalt declined to pitch a third inning for the division-leading Rangers. Whether it was out of spite, or because Oswalt didn’t want to risk damage to his arm that might cost him if he decides to play another year, is unknown. But what’s obvious is that the whole thing was poor form by Oswalt.

Rangers Trade for Rick Nash

Kyle Scott - July 23, 2012

Well, better keep those fingers crossed for Shea Weber, because the Rangers just got better. 

No, Henrik Lundqvist didn’t secure a 10-year sponsorship deal with Sebastian Shaper* allowing for unlimited use of their products. The Rangers acquired Rick Nash in exchange for Brandon Dubsinky and his puffy cheeks, Artem Anisimov and his air gun, Jan Erixon, and a first round pick:

 

Yikes. Oddly, the Blue Jackets wanted a massive haul from the Flyers for Nash, yet they accepted a hodgepodge of nonsense from the Rangers. And Brandon Dubinsky.

Now, #WeberWatch continues, because if the Predators match the offer, we’re left with what's currently on the Flyers' website:

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*Don't worry, midlings, I had to look that reference up.

H/T to (@TheRealPetrocs)