Flyers notes: On the road, injury updates, penalties

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Flyers notes: On the road, injury updates, penalties

Sunday, April 17, 2011
Posted: 2:40 p.m.

By Tim Panaccio
CSNPhilly.com

Peter Laviolettes Flyers won 25 road games this season the most in franchise history.

So it probably goes without saying that traveling to Buffalo for Games 3 and 4 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series is no big deal.

Just another road trip.

Its about consistency in the game and not so much the building or place you are at, said coach Peter Laviolette. We have a good group in here. I think the road is a place where it can be more difficult to win.

Buffalo will present challenges. They have a loud building just like we had here. We have to be ready for that. We know its coming.

The Flyers played well in Buffalo this year. Theres no reason to think that would change in the playoffs on Monday.

Part of that is because you look at the forwards and the defense and theres not a lot of bad matchups, Sean ODonnell said.

On the road, a lot of times, it comes down to who you have against who. No matter what happens out there, there is no real weakness, where if we dont get the matchup we want, oh my God, the Flyers have to get those guys off the ice.

Were pretty good at doing that. We seem to play more patient on the road, whereas maybe at home were too revved up. Were very confident on the road.

Its only Game 3, but the Flyers dont want to give the Sabres any cause to think theyre in the drivers seat. In fact, they need to take something back from Buffalo home ice.

Game 3 is a big game, ODonnell said. They took home ice from us and we want to get that back quickly. We like the way we play on the road. We dont want to go down 2-1.

So we feel like going into the Buffalo game, theres a lot of desperation. We know what they are going to be like in front of their home fans. Sometimes, that is an advantage and sometimes its not. You tend to come out a little too jacked up and you run around a bit.

Injuries
Andreas Nodl suffered a nasty cut under his right eye in Game 2. He is questionable for Game 3.

This appears to be the chance for Laviolette to re-insert Nikolay Zherdev into the lineup. Zherdev often gives the Flyers an immediate jolt when he comes off the bench into the lineup, like he did in early April.

It just doesnt last even though he played well down the stretch.

When he came in last he had lot of pop right away and the first couple games back, he had an impact, Laviolette said.

The puck was on his stick a lot. He scored some power play goals in Ottawa. Even 5-on-5 in the New Jersey game. In New Jersey, the puck was on his stick a lot. He seems to have possession time and making plays.

Pronger mum
As previously reported over the weekend, Chris Pronger wont be available for Game 3, although he made the trip to Buffalo.

Pronger said he would not be giving any interviews until he plays a game but even that is beginning to seem like a no-go.

On March 14, the Flyers announced that a CT scan had detected a small bone fracture in Prongers right hand. He under went surgery the next day in Cleveland and was to miss 3-4 weeks.

Pronger returned to the ice for practice on his own and even at morning skates with the team and began shooting pucks. When the Flyers were in Pittsburgh in late March, he reinjured the hand shooting.

On March 31, general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Pronger had suffered a setback and would not be available until the playoffs.

That was 17 days ago and hes still not shooting.

Big minutes
Buffalo defenseman Chris Butler, who has all of two playoff games for experience to draw on, was on the ice for 27:08 in Game 2 more than any player on either roster.

Butler logged 8:17 of penalty kill time. The Flyers had 10 power plays.

Yeah, thats a very dangerous power play, Butler said. I dont know what their percentage was during the season but we had a difficult time with them during the regular season and they put up a lot of goals.

They have a number of skilled players that make a lot of good reads and a lot of good plays. We look at the one that we gave up, it bounced off of Webby Mike Weber there and it was just kind of an unfortunate break. Overall, I think our penalty kill did a pretty good job.

A number of Sabre players along with coach Lindy Ruff said they need to better keep their emotions in check for Game 3.

It's something that we need to work on, we cant be taking extra roughing minors and little extra things like that, putting guys down, Butler said, referring to things such as Paul Gaustad taking down Danny Briere in a faceoff circle, though it wasnt called but triggered a barrage of penalties that followed.

That keeps a lot of guys off the ice, guys cant get into a groove when we are killing penalties that much.

Jason Pominville agreed.

Its definitely tough, in the playoffs, it takes rhythm out of everybody and the penalty killers had a lot of stop and starts and the guys that arent on the penalty kill are sitting on the bench and not really doing much, he said.

So, its definitely tough on everybody but I thought our penalty kill did a good job, kept us in there and limited there opportunities. Its been two games in a row where our penalty kill isnt to blame.

Loose pucks
According to Elias, the last time the Flyers had 10 power plays in a game was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against these same Buffalo Sabres in 1998 on April 24. Flyers also went 1 for 10 that night, as they did on Saturday. Flyers are 1 for 15 in the series on the power play.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

Rick MacLeish's Flyers teammates react to his passing

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Rick MacLeish's Flyers teammates react to his passing

PITTSBURGH -- Former Flyers captain and Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Clarke was Rick MacLeish’s teammate for 12 years and two Stanley Cups.
 
“Ricky was the most talented player the Flyers had during the 1970s,” said a saddened Clarke on Tuesday, after the announcement of MacLeish’s death at 66 late on Memorial Day (see story).
 
“Life after hockey wasn’t fair to Ricky. He left us far too soon.”
 
The center from Lindsay, Ontario, had been hospitalized in Philadelphia since mid-May while suffering from multiple medical issues, according to his daughter Brianna.
 
Here’s what other teammates had to say:
 
“Ricky was a special player for the Flyers,” said Bill Barber. “He always came up with scoring the big goals and he was instrumental helping us win two Stanley Cups. He will be greatly missed.”
 
Gary Dornhoefer was MacLeish's linemate with Ross Lonsberry for almost six seasons.
 
“I’ll tell you what, he was probably the fastest player on the ice,” Dornhoefer said. “As far as a wrist shot is concerned, there was no one better at getting that shot away and accurate. Ross and I would talk and say ‘let’s just give Ricky the puck and he’ll put it in.’
 
“If you look at the amount of goals he scored [328 as a Flyer], well, that’s why we kept giving him the puck. Ross and I had cement hands, so we’d pass the puck to him. The Flyers could have a mediocre game, but because of his skills as a player and the athlete that he was, he could carry us.
 
“He was that gifted. I always felt that during the years he played, he never got the recognition that he properly deserved. He was that good. It saddens me that he was such a young man and is no longer with us. That really hurts.”
 
Bob “The Hound” Kelly agreed.
 
“Rick was probably the most gifted, natural centerman that the Flyers have ever had,” Kelly said. “He was a tough kid who skated and worked hard.
 
“Although he played in the shadow of Clarkie, he was every bit as good as Clarkie. Clarkie was more of a natural leader where Rick was just quiet and simply went out there and played his heart out. He was a great guy and it is very sad that we had to lose him at such an early age.”
 
Joe Watson made a few comparisons.
 
“I’d put him up there with [Claude] Giroux, [Eric] Lindros and [Peter] Forsberg in terms of natural skill,” Watson said. “He was a great player and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Flyers 2015-16 Redux: Defensemen - Part 1

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Flyers 2015-16 Redux: Defensemen - Part 1

Too many bodies and not enough room at the inn.

That pretty much describes the dilemma the Flyers will face this offseason in addressing their defense, which dramatically improved once Shayne Gostisbehere arrived in November.
 
If there is one thing the Calder Trophy finalist showed, it's you can't have enough quick, young feet with the ability to create offense on the back end.

Gostisbehere gave Flyers fans a glimpse into the defense's future — it's loaded with young talent. The line behind Gostisbehere is long — the deepest pool of young defensive talent in club history.
 
All eyes will be watching this fall to see whether Ivan Provorov can catapult himself ahead of Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg and win a roster spot, which means at least one blueliner must go from the 2015-16 roster.
 
“We're not going to change philosophically in terms of young players,” general manager Ron Hextall said April 27, the day after the players cleared out their dressing room stalls following the playoff loss the Washington Capitals.
 
“They have to come in and be better than someone else that's here and, if that happens, we proved last year that we'll make room in our roster for a young player that proves to us that he's ready to play at this level and make our team better.
 
“I'm not putting a player on the team so we can say we're a young team. They're going to come in here and earn a spot.”
 
Here is a deeper look back on this year’s defense:
 
Michael Del Zotto

Age: Turns 26 on June 25
Stats:52 GP; 4G, 9A, 13 PTS, -8, 23:24 MIN
Cap hit: $3.875 million.

Missed the final 28 games of the regular season following surgery to repair a broken left wrist that had been bothering him since being injured initially on Dec. 21 against St. Louis. No doubt the injury played a pivotal role in limiting Del Zotto's offensive effectiveness just one year after rejuvenating his career with the Flyers with 10 goals and 32 points and earning a two-year contract extension. Del Zotto's best years are still ahead of him. He hit his 400th career game in November. He seemed to get it this year, as to when not to join the attack. Just imagine a lineup with Del Zotto, Gostisbehere and Provorov. The 2016-17 season will see what kind of contract he can earn as an unrestricted free agent.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere

Age: 23
Stats: 64 GP, 17G, 29A, 46 PTS, +8, 20:05 MIN
Cap hit: $925,000.

What can you saw about the most dynamic and impactful Flyers rookie since Mikael Renberg, who was the franchise's last Calder finalist back in 1993-94. With bonuses, Gostisbehere earned over $1 million this season. If Mark Streit never gets injured, chances are we don't see Gostisbehere until late in the season. Yet, the way things turned out, he became a Calder finalist.

His offense from the back-end includes things fans have been yearning for: speed, agility, youth and a great shot, as well. He quickly began to quarterback the power play in Streit's absence. "Ghost" led all NHL rookie defensemen in points while setting a couple franchise records, including goals by a rookie blueliner (17).

His rawness on the defensive end was evident all the way through, yet that was expected. It's a fair tradeoff for what Gostisbehere produces at the other end. He had strong chemistry with defensive partner Andrew MacDonald. Offseason hip/abdominal surgery should not be a concern.

The sky's the limit with this kid.
 
Radko Gudas
Age: Turns 26 this June 5
Stats: 76 GP, 5G, 9A  14 PTS, -3; 19:50 MIN.
Cap hit: RFA who earned $991,666 last season.

In the beginning, there seemed to be no middle ground with Gudas. You either loved him or you hated him depending upon whether he threw a questionable hit and was faced a suspension or used his physical edge to the Flyers' advantage. By season's end, however, Gudas seemed to settle in as a consistent defensive presence.

Still, you worry about his questionable hits. His 304 hits were second in the NHL this season. He's the only defenseman the Flyers have who scares people on the back end.

His 157 blocks were second only to Nick Schultz's 174. Gudas is surprisingly mobile given his girth. He played his 200th career game in April and spent much of the season paired first with Del Zotto and then Brandon Manning. He was effective in the playoffs against the Caps.
 
Andrew MacDonald
Age: Turns 30 on Sept. 7
Stats: 28GP, 1G, 7A, 8 PTS, +10; 20:07 MIN
Cap hit: $5 million

The Flyers didn't want to pay Matt Carle $5 million per year in 2012. The fans never appreciated him and when Carle left for Tampa as a free agent, it took a while for the organization to realize Carle gave them what they wanted on the back end, which is why the Flyers overpaid in trading for and then re-signing MacDonald.

The problem was MacDonald lacked on the defensive side and quickly got caught up in a numbers game, which resulted in his starting the season with Phantoms.

Del Zotto's injury allowed MacDonald's re-entry to the Flyers and he played very well as Gostisbehere's partner right into the playoffs. He was among the team's best players in postseason. MacDonald's time spent in the AHL also saw him improve his defensive play.

MacDonald deserves a chance to remain a Flyer, but again, numbers and cap hit will again stand in his way.

Flyers legend Rick MacLeish dies at 66

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Flyers legend Rick MacLeish dies at 66

Rick MacLeish, the smooth-skating centerman with a potent wrist shot whose goal lifted the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup, died late Monday night.

MacLeish was 66.
 
The center from Lindsay, Ontario, had been hospitalized in Philadelphia since mid-May while suffering from multiple medical issues, according to his daughter Brianna.

“With the passing of Rick MacLeish, the Flyers have lost one of their legends,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “A good father, grandfather, teammate and friend, Rick will be missed by all who were fortunate to come and know him over the years.
 
“His happy and friendly demeanor was front and center everywhere Rick went. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Rick’s wife, Charlene, his daughters, Danielle and Brianna along with his grandchildren. May he rest in peace.”
 
MacLeish was the Flyers’ first 50-goal scorer and second 100-point player behind Bobby Clarke, with both milestones achieved in 1972-73. A three-time NHL All-Star, he won two Cups with the Flyers.
 
He will forever be known for his power-play-tip goal in front of Boston goalie Gilles Gilbert in the first period of Game 6 of the 1974 Cup Final. Bernie Parent made the goal stand the remainder of the game.
 
MacLeish played 16 seasons, including 12 as a Flyer. He was an integral member of the Flyers’ 1974 and 1975 Cup squads.
 
MacLeish's 697 points are second only to Clarke (1,210) in club history among centers, and he ranks fourth in all-time points (697), fifth in assists (369) and sixth in goal-scoring (328).
 
His 741 games in orange and black are tied for sixth overall, and his 12 hat tricks are second only to Tim Kerr (17). MacLeish scored 54 goals with 53 assists (107 points) in 114 playoff games.
 
After leaving the Flyers, he also played in Pittsburgh, Hartford and Detroit, amassing 759 career points in 846 games.
 
Drafted fourth overall by Boston in 1970, MacLeish became a Flyer as part of three-team trade involving the Bruins and Toronto that same year.
 
Known for his effortless motion and blazing speed on the ice, MacLeish had a reputation as an unmotivated player early in his career until his breakout season in 1972-73.
 
“You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t want to play, and the Flyers didn’t keep you if you weren’t committed to winning,” teammate Gary Dornhoefer once said.
 
“It might have taken MacLeish a few years to mature as a hockey player, but he earned his keep as a member of the team.”
 
MacLeish was the Flyers’ first legitimate sniper, often wristing his deadly shot from the circles.
 
During the 1974 playoffs, he led the Flyers in both goals (13) and points (22) and finished second to Parent in the Conn Smythe Trophy voting for playoff MVP.
 
After his retirement, MacLeish dabbled in owning race horses and worked with the Flyers' alumni.
 
Among his last major public appearances with Cup teammates in Philadelphia was at the closing of the Spectrum party on Jan. 16, 2010, hosted by Flyers chairman Ed Snider, who died in April.