Will Flyers Answer the 'Wakeup Call' in Calgary?

Will Flyers Answer the 'Wakeup Call' in Calgary?

Thursday night's
2-0 loss to a lowly Edmonton Oilers team marked an 18-game stretch in
which the Flyers haven't won two straight. While that points to a slew
of questions facing the team as they look down the barrels of the trade
deadline, something we'll get into in more detail tomorrow, the loss
itself seemed to be particularly alarming. We don't have to look much
further than Peter Laviolette's reaction to see that.

But while blasting his team's effort in conceding two Edmonton goals
in a flat second period, Lavvy quickly grasped for the positive
straw—hoping the loss was a wakeup call for a playoff-bound team. In
other words, Lavvy is with the rest of us in hoping that in a few weeks,
we'll be looking at Thursday night as the team's rock bottom. Only time
will tell, but their effort needs to improve dramatically, starting
tonight against the Calgary Flames.

For the Flames, every game could mean the difference between making
or missing the playoffs. They're currently among three Western
Conference teams with 66 points, all of which are two points behind the
eight-seeded Dallas Stars. The Los Angeles Kings are among them, and as
you probably heard, they just made a deal aiming to spark their offense
enough to pull ahead of that pack.

Calgary is coming off a pair of home losses including a 6-1
trouncing by the Oilers and a shootout against the Phoenix Coyotes. They
too are in need of a wakeup call if they hope to avoid an early date
with the tee box.

The Flames are basically an unremarkable team, on the low end of the
goals-per-game table at 26th in the league, while only 12th in goals
against. Their power play is currently 15th (17.1%), though they have a
top-10 killing unit (83.5%).

Like the Oilers, we don't often see the Flames. However, they do
sport some familiar faces. Olli Jokinen leads the team in points and
being weird-looking, and he's dangerous in his ability to score and get
the Flyers to make mistakes including taking penalties. Jarome Iginla
once again leads the team in goals, sitting on 23. Both players have
four points in their last five games. Mikka Kiprusoff holds down the
fort in net, currently posting a 2.31 GAA and .922 save percentage, both
quite a bit better than his career marks. He's allowed eight goals over
his previous two starts, including five in 40 minutes against Edmonton,
but he shut out the Kings the game before that. Not that the Kings are
tearing up scoresheets lately, but after the Flyers were blanked by Some
Guy, here's hoping for better luck tonight.

The Flyers beats are tweeting about a possible Braydon Coburn
absence from the lineup tonight. No other lineup notes available just
yet, and we're headed out for some chili and beers before settling in
for the west-coast start. 

Late 10:00 pm start from Calgary this evening.

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Claude Giroux spent Friday signing virtual autographs as the cover athlete for Topps NHL Skate 2017, a new onilne digital trading card game. Remember when trading cards came in a bubble gum pack? 

After the event, Giroux sat down with CSN's Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk for a game of “Who Does It Better: Canada or the United States?”

The game started off with a few easy softball questions, with Giroux picking the NFL over the Candian Football League. Then it got a little tougher, as Giroux chose Canadian hockey over U.S. hockey.

Despite talents like Drake and Shania Twain, Giroux went with the U.S. over Canada in music, and also chose American bacon over Canadian bacon.

Eventually, Barkann asked Giroux which beer he preffered.

“I don’t drink beer," Giroux responded.

Really? What Canadian doesn't like beer?

As he started to get up out of his seat after the interview, Giroux showed his true colors. “I love beer. I love beer,” he said.

Check out the video above to see the full game. 

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."