Panaccios Flyers Week in Review: Feb. 14-20


Panaccios Flyers Week in Review: Feb. 14-20

Monday, February 21, 2011
Posted: 9 a.m.

By Tim Panaccio

Lavy says

Coach Peter Laviolette on not having a single penalty called against the Flyers in New York on Sunday:

We played a really clean game. I dont think there was anything that should have been called against us. When you get three or four power plays, you almost wait for one to come against you. Our guys were clean and I thought the game was called well.

By the Numbers

-4 Andrej Meszaros' plusminus in his last four games

.703 Flyers winning percentage

2.48 Goals a game against for the Flyers

3.29 Goals a game average for the Flyers

50.1 Flyers team faceoff percentage

96 Flyer goals at home

98 Flyers goals on road

739 Hits on the road

1,323 Overall hits for the club

This date in Flyer history

In 1994, Mikael Renberg had a hat trick during a 6-4 victory over the Sharks in San Jose.
Renberg finished the night with four points and would go on to tally 82 points that season, establishing a new rookie standard for the club.


Floridas Cory Stillman played his 1,000th NHL game last Wednesday against the Flyers.


Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist after Sundays 4-2 loss to the Flyers:

Its disappointing because you know important it is now to get points. Unfortunately, its the same story, different day. We come close, we created enough chances to win or at least tie the game we just have to try even harder.

Coming up

The Flyers welcome Phoenix to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday, then the Islanders pop by on Thursday. Then the Flyers head to Ottawa for Saturdays first clash there. The Flyers Wives Carnival is Sunday at home.

Week in Review readers get to rate the Flyers performances this season. Each week we will post a recap of the past games and what our readers had to say about them, based on the comments posted under the game stories written by myself or Sarah Baicker. Any foul language will result in a game misconduct.

Feb. 15: A 4-3 shootout win in Tampa. Three unlikely things: James van Riemsdyk gets a Gordie Howe hat trick; Darroll Powe gets a penalty shot goal; Kimmo Timonen gets his first career shootout goal winner. Flyers blow a 3-1 lead in the second period, but stick with the plan to break Tampas 1-3-1 trap and it works. Flyers open 5-point lead on Bolts in overall Eastern Conference standings.

Subject: Tonights Win
Commenter: Thor
Posted: 2:03 a.m., Feb. 16, 2011

I'll take the two points. We didn't look great against the trap and keep in mind that Tampa had a few starters out of the lineup. They brought up a couple AHLers, so Tampa basically played with a shortened bench. They will be tough in the playoffs, but I think last years cup experience will have the Flyers ready for anybody.

Feb. 16: A 4-2 win at Florida. Flyers look like theyre going to have an easy game jumping out 3-0 in the second period, but they again stop skating and allow the lowly Panthers to crawl back on Sergei Bobrovsky. Flyers were on their heels in the final minute until Danny Briere ices it with an empty-netter. Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl break their scoring slumps.

Subject: Your reply headline
Commenter: drfager
Posted: 9:30 a.m., Feb. 17, 2011

It's a mental thing bigbanger. I'm sure they'll be more focused when the playoffs start. Everyone knows the playoffs are a different story. Just look at last year. The Flyers made it in on the last game of the regular season, and went all the way to the finals. The Montreal Canadiens went through the Caps, and Pens the top two teams in the league. Yes, when playoff time comes, the Flyers will not be taking shifts off! I'm glad I cleared that up for you.

Subject: Yep
Commenter: flyerfan124
Posted: 9:20 a.m., Feb. 17, 2011

You dont think teams ramp up the intensity come playoff time? You are clearly here to battle people on the site. Your not happy unless you are in a message board battle. Ok, You win, they suck, lets all boo them. Noone is making you like the team, just go and kick the dog, whatever you like to enjoy.

Feb. 18: A 3-2 loss in Carolina. Carolina had not beaten the Flyers in regulation going back to Dec. 2006 0-15-3 but the Canes were more than inspired by pregame ceremonies celebrating the retiring of Rod BrindAmours No. 17. Canes get two goals in less than seven minutes and force the Flyers to claw back. Erik Coles late goal for an odd man rush clinches it for Carolina.

Subject: Carter
Commenter: drumin87
Posted: 5:28 a.m., Feb. 19, 2011

Can we please trade Carter already? He is a turnover machine and couldnt hit the net if it was 10 ft wide. I still give Him crap for game six of the cup finals last yr. He is not a leader and is not clutch. His goals are misleading, notice how a bunch of them are empty netters or garbage goals against crap teams. Trade this bum.

Subject: Great effort by Bob
Commenter: flyerdude17
Posted: 1:20 a.m., Feb. 19, 2011

Unfotunately some guys did not show up. Not impressed at all with Versteeg. He must still think he is in Toronto with all his turnovers. Carle is useless as is Shelley. Zherdev could have made a difference in this game and I would take him over VShelley anyday. The chemistry is starting to break up as many of the players are in slumps. Jeff Carter wakes up with 30 seconds left in the game. I like Jeff but he sure leaves me wanting a better effort most games.

Subject: Seriously?
Commenter: flyeredupforthecup
Posted: 11:39 p.m., Feb. 18, 2011

First of all bob was great. That could have easily been 5-0 by the halfway mark of the first. He kept us in the game with several outstanding saves . You can't expect a goalie to stop all those odd man rushes.. I'll admit he should have had the second one but when you have scrambly skaters that can't clear a puck whatndo you expect with the first one. It looked like a hot potato puck for the first seven minutes.
Feb. 20: A 4-2 in New York against the Rangers. Flyers lose defenseman Sean ODonnell in the first two minutes of play with a knee injury, then goalie Brian Boucher gets a stinger in the third period, but the club holds on grab two points in a tense, well-played game. Flyers change all three defensive pairs to compensate for ODonnells absence, too.

Subject: Lucky Rangers
Commenter: drfager
Posted: 6:25 p.m., Feb. 20, 2011

Both Ranger goals came off of weird bounces off the boards. Their second goal was ridiculous. When the Rangers got that second lucky goal they got momentum. A valiant effort by the Flyers to get the win. The Rangers suck....I hate them!

Subject: Boosh was the man today
Commenter: bradco
Posted: 4:06 p.m., Feb. 20, 2011

I thought Boosh was the difference today. He made a half dozen point blank saves and allowed the Flyers to get back into the game after a very slow start. His play of late has been sensational. The Flyers defenseman have been poor clearing the puck out of the zone lately and its leading to alot of shots for the opposition. Meszaros and O'Donnell have come back to earth and Carle continues to be a major turnover machine. Winning 3 of 4 on the road trip is certainly a great result but the Flyers are not playing anywhere near their best hockey right now. The team needs a good 5-0 or 5-1 win this week at home.
Plays of Week

1: van Riemsdyks fight with Randy Jones at Tampa
2: Timonens shootout winning goal at Tampa
3: Nodls tap-in goal at Florida
4: Betts shorthanded goal at Carolina
5: Sean ODonnell collision with Rangers Mats Zuccarello

The Associated Press and Calgary Herald contributed to this report.E-mail Tim Panaccio at

NHL Playoffs: Penguins back in Cup Final for first time since 2009


NHL Playoffs: Penguins back in Cup Final for first time since 2009


PITTSBURGH -- The hours before the biggest game of Bryan Rust's life were restless. The nap he tried to sneak in never materialized. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward's mind was simply too busy.

"I was just sitting up there looking at the ceiling," Rust said.

Yet even those daydreams didn't compare to the reality: the rookie forward who began training camp hoping just to make the team scored both of Pittsburgh's goals in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night.

Pittsburgh will host Western Conference champion San Jose in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

In a building littered with stars, it was the relentlessness of the 24-year-old Rust and the steadiness of 22-year-old goaltender Matt Murray who provided the difference as the Penguins reached the final for the first time since 2009.

"I'm in that mode where I'm getting the bounces and the breaks right now," Rust said.

Ones Rust and his teammates are earning. The Penguins rallied from a 3-2 deficit by controlling the final two games of the best-of-seven series, winning 5-2 in Tampa Bay in Game 6, then backing it up with what coach Mike Sullivan said "might have been the most complete 60-minute effort we had."

In disarray in December when Sullivan took over for Mike Johnston, the Penguins have sprinted through April and May and will head into June with a chance to win the franchise's fourth Cup, one that would serve as a bookend to its last triumph seven years when stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were still in their early 20s.

They're older now. Wiser. And undaunted by a series of postseason failures that made it seem the window of their primes were closing. Yet here they are after dispatching the New York Rangers in five games, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in six and the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning in seven.

"They played better hockey than us the whole series," said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who lost a Game 7 for the first time after starting his career 7-0 when pushed to the limit.

Jonathan Drouin scored his fifth goal of the playoffs for the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves, but it wasn't enough to send Tampa Bay back to the Cup Final for a second straight year. Captain Steven Stamkos had two shots in 11:55 in his from a two-month layoff while dealing with blood clots, his best chance coming on a breakaway in the second period that deflected off Murray and trickled wide. One of Murray's teammates deftly guided the puck out of harm's way, emblematic of Tampa Bay's inability to keep the puck in Pittsburgh's end with any sort of consistency.

"I thought I beat him," Stamkos said. "It just went through him and out the other side. It was close, but we didn't generate enough offensively in order to win a game."

Mostly because the Penguins didn't let them. It's part of what Sullivan calls "playing the right way," a way abetted by the influx of speed brought in by general manager Jim Rutherford. That group includes Rust, who forced his way onto the roster thanks to feverish skating and a self-confidence that belies his nondescript 5-foot-11 frame.

That effort -- or "desperation level" as Crosby calls it -- provided the Penguins with the boost they needed to overcome a bit of unfortunate history and the return of Stamkos. Pittsburgh had dropped five straight Game 7s at home, including a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay in 2011 in a series in which both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missed due to injury.

That loss had become symbolic of the franchise's postseason shortcomings following that gritty run to the Cup in 2009 that culminated with a Game 7 win in Detroit that was supposed to be the launching pad of a dynasty.

Seven long years later, with an entirely new cast around mainstays Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz and Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins have returned to the league's biggest stage.

"We've always believed in one another," Crosby said. "Trying to get back, it's not easy."

Not by a long shot.

Vasilevskiy, a revelation while filling in for injured Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop, spent most of the night facing barrage after barrage as Pittsburgh controlled the puck and the pace of play for long stretches.

The Penguins finally broke through behind Rust, who managed all of five goals in 55 regular-season games, a total he's matched in just 17 games during the postseason. He gave the Penguins the lead 1:55 into the second when he raced down the slot, took a feed from Kunitz and beat Vasilevskiy over his glove.

Drouin's fourth goal of the series tied it at 9:36 of the second, a wicked wrist shot from the circle that zipped by Murray and seemed to blunt Pittsburgh's momentum.

Only it didn't.

All of 30 seconds later, the Penguins were back in front. Ben Lovejoy's slap shot from the point caromed off the end boards to the right of the net. Rust jabbed at it, squeezing it between Vasilevskiy's left arm and his body.

Their season on the brink, the Lightning recovered but Murray never wavered. His teammates in front of him kept Tampa Bay from getting in his way and when the final horn blared, Pittsburgh's metamorphosis was complete.

"The biggest challenge is ahead of us," Crosby said. "We have to finish it off the right way."

The Penguins went 0 for 5 on the power play. The Lightning were 0 for 1. ... The team that scores first is now 124-42 all-time in Game 7s, including 5-0 this year.

Flyers Stay or Go Part 5: R.J. Umberger to Ryan White


Flyers Stay or Go Part 5: R.J. Umberger to Ryan White

In the final installment of our five-part offseason series examining the future of the Flyers, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster. We go alphabetically. Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Today, we begin with R.J. Umberger.

R.J. Umberger
2015-16 stats: 39 GP, 2 G, 9 A; Contract: Signed through 2016-17, $4.6 mm cap hit

Dougherty: At the end-of-the-season media availability, Umberger said he expects to be bought out. And he will, unless general manager Ron Hextall can work some magic. He’s a goner.

Verdict: GO

Hall: Umberger expects to be bought out. It seems imminent at this point. Either way, the Flyers need to move on from Umberger.

Verdict: GO

Paone: To his credit, Umberger was a total pro as he went through his immense struggles this season. But to say the writing is on the wall for Umberger in Philadelphia is an understatement. It's like he sees a skywriter spelling it out in the clouds above him everywhere he goes. He even said himself that he expects the final year of his contract to be bought out sooner rather than later. His premonition will come true and the Flyers will take the $1.6 million cap hit that comes with it for next season.

Verdict: GO

Chris VandeVelde
2015-16 stats: 79 GP, 2 G, 12 A; Contract: Signed through 2016-17, $712,500 cap hit

Dougherty: VandeVelde is a Dave Hakstol disciple. He played for him at North Dakota and he played for him here. He was a cog on the fourth line, playing with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan White all season long. But while VandeVelde kills penalties, he doesn’t do anything else. He has no offensive ability and, simply stated, is an AHL player playing in the NHL. The Flyers want to add scoring and to do that, someone has to go. And VandeVelde should be that guy.

Verdict: GO

Hall: Debating a fourth-liner’s status shouldn’t be one of the harder decisions, but it is in this case. That’s because Dave Hakstol adored his final unit of VandeVelde, Ryan White and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. However, the Flyers need better depth and VandeVelde is super cheap, so sending him to the AHL to clear a roster spot wouldn’t be a stomach-churning move. With a tiny cap hit, even an offseason trade is conceivable.

Verdict: GO

Paone: This is a tougher call than one would think for a role player of VandeVelde's ilk. On one hand, he, Ryan White and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare formed one of the most effective fourth lines in the entire league this season and an effective fourth line can be such a valuable weapon in today's NHL. There's chemistry there that you shouldn't want to mess with. On the other hand, VandeVelde is probably the most expendable and interchangeable of that trio. And with the Flyers needing as many roster spots as they can create, another younger and more effective player may be able to fit in there (Scott Laughton to start, possibly). That's why I lean toward saying VandeVelde won't be with the big club to start the season, despite his longstanding ties to Dave Hakstol. Roster spots are becoming more and more valuable in Philadelphia.

Verdict: GO

Jakub Voracek
2015-16 stats: 73 GP, 11 G, 44 A; Contract: Signed through 2023-24, $8.25 mm cap hit

Dougherty: This is a no-brainer. He signed an eight-year contract extension last summer, and that kicks in July 1. He had confidence issues this season and battled injury, but there’s nothing of concern there. He should be healthy and back to his productive self next season.

Verdict: STAY

Hall: Obviously, this isn’t really a question. What is, though, are Voracek’s health and rebound.

Verdict: STAY

Paone: It's no secret the Flyers' star winger struggled with both production and injury this season, a year removed from his spectacular 81-point campaign that earned him a massive eight-year, $66 million extension. That extension just so happens to kick in this year, by the way. You're crazy if you don't think a motivated Voracek will be back in orange and black next season.

Verdict: STAY

Jordan Weal
2015-16 stats: 14 GP, 0 G, 0 A; Contract: Restricted free agent

Dougherty: Weal was basically a throw-in in the Vinny Lecavalier trade. Los Angeles didn’t want him because there was no room for him on its NHL roster, but the Kings would have lost him for nothing had they placed him on waivers. He came to Philly and didn’t do anything to impress. He’s a restricted free agent. He’ll probably get qualified, but shouldn’t. Let him go.

Verdict: GO

Hall: Ron Hextall knows a lot about Weal. The 24-year-old was often the first player on the ice for extra work before practice. I think there was more than one reason why Weal was included in the trade that sent Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the Kings. I say he’s back at a minimum rate but will head to the minors.

Verdict: GO

Paone: What exactly is Weal capable of at the NHL level? That's a really good question and one we don't have an answer to considering his lack of playing time with in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia this season. His injury after becoming a Flyer did him no favors, either. As I mentioned above when talking about VandeVelde, roster spots in Philadelphia are becoming more and more precious as the influx of talented prospects begins. Weal is really going to have to prove himself during camp to earn one of those spots. But, for right now, starting the season with the big club is a hazy picture for him.

Verdict: GO

Ryan White
2015-16 stats: 73 GP, 11 G, 5 A; Contract: Unrestricted free agent

Dougherty: White is everything the Flyers thought Zac Rinaldo would be. He brings energy, he’s physical and he can even score. He displayed the ability to play on the power play, which is a plus with a player in a fourth-line role. White should be back at least for another season.

Verdict: STAY

Hall: White epitomizes what you want. He cares more about the Flyers than money. He’s a terrific teammate willing to do anything. And he’s understanding more and more how to score ugly. A perfect fourth-liner for the Flyers who will be re-signed.

Verdict: STAY

Paone: You want to talk about an almost-perfect fit? That's what White has been with the Flyers over the last season and a half. In 107 games as a Flyer, White has recorded 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points. In his first five seasons in the league with Montreal, the 28-year-old forward had just five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 117 games. Even in a mostly fourth-line role, he's made an impact to the point he's earned Hakstol's trust enough to be the net-front presence on the Flyers' second power-play unit. He's a UFA who'll be due a bit of a raise, but White just meshes way too well to not bring back. He knows it, too, saying in his end-of-season media availability that money isn't necessarily the determining factor in negotiations with the Flyers. He'll be back in his familiar roles next season.

Verdict: STAY

Remembering the Lindros hit from Stevens 16 years later


Remembering the Lindros hit from Stevens 16 years later

All it took to end the Flyers career of Eric Lindros was one devastating shoulder to the chin from Scott Stevens.

This day, in 2000, just 7 minutes and 50 seconds into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, Stevens, the most intimidating defenseman in New Jersey Devils history, caught Lindros in transition coming across center ice in the Flyer offensive zone … with his head down.

In real time, measured against today’s standards, Stevens’ hit on Lindros is nothing compared to what seems to occur nightly in the NHL at breakneck speed.

The difference is, back then, the Stevens’ hit was deemed legal.

Today, it would draw a five-minute major, game misconduct and possible suspension because the principal point of contact from Stevens’ shoulder was the chin and forehead of Lindros.

Stevens was 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. Lindros was two inches taller — but smaller when he tucked his head down, as he often did when he skated hard and fast. He weighed 25 pounds more. Didn’t matter. Stevens dropped Lindros to the ice and a hush came over the arena now called Wells Fargo Center.

The significance of the hit is obvious. It marked the end of Lindros’ career as a Flyer. Recall, he had missed more than two months because of headaches, and came into the series in Game 6.

The Flyers lost Game 7, 2-1. They lost a series they once led 3-1. And they lost perhaps the greatest power forward of his generation. No player dominated the ice like Lindros. He was unique in that NHL coaches actually had to design game plans around defending him.

Stevens’ hit resulted in Lindros’ sixth concussion as a Flyer, but more significantly, it was his fourth in five months. He would sit out the entire following season with post-concussion syndrome while demanding a trade that would eventually come with the New York Rangers.

Lindros' impact in eight years as a Flyer can’t be understated. He is among the club’s all-time top 10 in goals (290) assists (369) and points (659) and is the third-highest scoring centerman in Flyers history.

Tragically, he was also the NHL’s poster child for post-concussion syndrome. At the time, the Flyers, the league and many neurologists weren’t sure of the ramifications of this medical term, but in coming years, it would become synonymous with head injuries in every sport.

Medically speaking, this remains the biggest impact Lindros had on hockey — he brought much-needed focus to concussions.

Sadly, during his 13-year career, Lindros missed the equivalent of two more seasons because of injuries, most of which were concussion-related.