Flyers Extras: Danny's Return, Goalies, New Lines, Trade Deadline, and the Cap

Flyers Extras: Danny's Return, Goalies, New Lines, Trade Deadline, and the Cap

It's a busy week for the Flyers, who play in Washington Tuesday, host LA on Wednesday, then host the thug-life Canadiens on Friday night.

There are plenty of interesting news briefs surrounding the team right now, as you may have seen.

  • For starters, Danny Briere is likely to return this Friday against the Habs. He's been practicing and is almost at full speed, but the question remains as to whether he'll re-injure his abdominal strain like he did the last time he came off the IR. As the NHL nears the trade deadline, the Flyers need to know what Danny's status will be before game time, because they'll need to create about $2.5 million of cap room. And no, Darroll Powe doesn't make quite that much ($520k all season).
  • Tim Panaccio reports that Jeff Carter is the latest Flyer to catch a bug, but he's unlikely to miss any game time. Good news, considering the Caps are up next. Could be a fire fight.
    Also, John Stevens is juggling his lines. The Richards line will stay intact, but Scottie Upshall, who has been playing with a lot of energy lately (even for him), will move up to take Joffrey Lupul's spot on the second line. Lupul will skate with Claude Giroux and Powe. Either way, that's a hell of a set of second and third lines.
  • Niitty starts Tuesday, Marty on Wednesday.
  • Other than Sunday's Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival, the week didn't end so well for the Flyers. A poor decision by Marty Biron resulted in a Sidney Crosby goal that broke a tie late in Saturday's game. But after the loss, Mike Richards took the blame, citing two giveaways that resulted in goals. Fans won't likely hold him too accountable though, considering he'd scored a goal—his NHL-best seventh shorthanded—and added two assists. Just a game before, he had two goals and three assists, and he has three shorties in his last three games. Fittingly, the NHL named him the week's first star
  • Speaking of Marty's gaffe... after the Pens game, the speculation regarding the Flyers goalie situation heated up again. It's unlikely there will be any change in the goaltending personnel, but it's always interesting to look at what's out there. You may remember David Foley from The Kids in the Hall his great fan reports here at the Level, and now we're happy to see he's started a blog. David F. takes a good look at some of the goalies that might be available if the Flyers are buyers at the trade deadline. We're not fans of the Khabibulin rumor; he's old, and he's just shown why that's a factor, landing on the IR. Plus, he makes too much money for the cash-strapped Flyers to take on. Ditto the Kari Lehtonen rumor. Head-to-head, Niitty has owned him, but of course Kari's awful team has to be taken intro consideration. Still, he's not worth JVR, who isn't under contract or accounted for in the current cap numbers. Someone else would have to go if the Flyers picked up any of these goalies, most likely Biron. That's a huge price to pay for a modest upgrade at best. The one guy we like is Nik Backstrom, but his "availability" is speculative only. Can Homer pull off another rights-acquisition trade? With Minnesota hovering in the 8/9 spots out west, it's a long shot at this point, but pending UFA Backstrom would look great here next season, if not sooner.
  • Bob Ford reports that it will likely be a pretty quiet trade deadline for the Flyers, at least in terms of big name moves. With the cap situation, he's probably right.
  • Don't look for any head coaches to volunteer to start their teams' seasons in Europe any time soon. The Rangers were the fourth club to fire their head coach this season. Oddly, the four teams were the same ones who started '08-'09 in Europe. Axing Tom Renney after the Rangers fell like a rock from the top of the Atlantic Division standings wasn't much of a surprise, and neither is Glen Sather's choice to replace himJohn Tortorella, former head coach of the Lightning and no big fan of the Flyers. This oughtta be good.
  • Finally, it appears Dancing Shawn might have some competition for jumbotron dance party glory up in Beantown.

NFL Notes: LeSean McCoy doubtful for Bills; Matt Jones out for 'Skins

NFL Notes: LeSean McCoy doubtful for Bills; Matt Jones out for 'Skins

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills look to be short-handed on offense in a pivotal divisional matchup against the New England Patriots.

Bills running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is doubtful and not expected to play. Wide receiver Robert Woods (foot) is questionable, and receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion) is out.

Buffalo (4-3) is home against New England (6-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

McCoy has not practiced all week due to a hamstring injury. He originally injured the hamstring on Oct. 19, leading up to Buffalo's Week 6 game against Miami before suffering a setback against the Dolphins.

"Obviously, he never practiced so you can guys can figure that out," Bills coach Rex Ryan said.

McCoy has been the driving force on offense for the Bills this season. He is fourth in the league in rushing with 598 yards and six touchdowns.

Backup Mike Gillislee is expected to start in place of McCoy. Gillislee is questionable with a foot injury but expected to play. He's performed well with limited reps and had a 44-yard touchdown against San Francisco in Week 6.

Redskins: RB Matt Jones out
LONDON — Redskins running back Matt Jones says he will not play in Washington's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium on Sunday because of a knee injury.

Jones, who has 99 carries for 460 yards and three touchdowns this season, says he has "a bruise and some cartilage damage" after getting hurt in the second quarter of the Redskins' 20-17 road loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

He has not practiced at any point this week and was the only Redskins player who did not participate Friday at Twyford Ground in Acton.

With Jones out, the Redskins will turn to Chris Thompson, who ran for a career-high 73 yards against the Lions, and rookie Robert Kelly. They also signed Mack Brown off their practice squad, cutting safety Josh Evans.

Browns: Josh McCown to start vs. Jets
BEREA, Ohio — Josh McCown will start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns against the New York Jets on Sunday.

The 14th-year pro has been sidelined since Sept. 18, when he broke his left collarbone in a home game against Baltimore. McCown began the season as the backup to Robert Griffin III before both injured their non-throwing shoulders.

McCown was medically cleared to play earlier in the week, and coach Hue Jackson formally chose him as the Sunday starter following the team's morning walkthrough.

The winless Browns have used six quarterbacks in their first seven games, including starters Griffin, McCown and rookie Cody Kessler.

Third-round pick Kessler suffered a concussion last week at Tennessee and remains in the NFL's head trauma protocol. He had been Cleveland's starter since Week 3.

Broncos: No timetable for Anderson's return
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — C.J. Anderson tweeted early Friday that his knee surgery was a "super success" and he was in "great spirits" but he added there was still no timetable for his possible return to the Broncos lineup.

Anderson had surgery in California on Thursday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

He got hurt Monday night on his second carry against Houston but returned to the game and ran 14 more times for 84 yards and a touchdown, finishing with 107 yards in his best performance of the season.

Rookie Devontae Booker will make his first start Sunday when the Broncos (5-2) play the Chargers (3-4), with Kapri Bibbs backing him up.

Rival Penguins may be what Flyers need to get off to fast start

Rival Penguins may be what Flyers need to get off to fast start

VOORHEES, N.J. — Saturday might be a good time for the slow-starting Flyers to meet their cross-state archnemesis.
The Pittsburgh Penguins often bring out the best in the Flyers.
They’re sitting atop the Metro Division with 11 points and their veteran leaders, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are having an impact.
“Stanley Cup champs, it’s going to be emotional,” Jakub Voracek understated. “Something has to change tomorrow. That team is very fast. If we’re gonna have a slow start, they’ll jump out 2-0 or 3-0 and it will be hard to come back. We can’t afford to do that tomorrow.”
The Flyers had been living off comebacks lately, but fell short against the Coyotes in Thursday's 5-4 loss.
Since 2014, the Flyers are 4-1-0 against the Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. That’s the good news. 
The bad news is the Flyers have given up 30 goals this season — tied for worst in the league — and they’re meeting an offensive machine.
“These are always intense games with a fun atmosphere and we’ve got to be ready for it,” said goalie Steve Mason, whose slot has been under siege with uncontested shots lately. “We don’t want to take them lightly and get off on the wrong foot like we did [against Arizona]. 
“We've got to take the play to them and not sit back and let them dictate things. They’re too good for that.”
Dave Hakstol said after the Flyers’ poor first-period performance against the Coyotes that it shouldn’t matter who they face next, they simply need to start faster. It’s been a problem most of this season and haunted them early last fall, as well.
“They’re a team that comes out hard and it’s as good a challenge as any for us,” Hakstol said. “After the loss in our building, it shouldn’t matter who we’re playing at the start of the hockey game.”
Interestingly, Mason said following that loss that the Flyers seem hellbent on trying to outscore their opponents without taking care of their defensive responsibilities. 
Given the influx of speed and some new offensive talent, perhaps the emphasis has switched to offense at the expense of defense.
Offensively, Claude Giroux (9 points) and Voracek (8) are among the top 10 in NHL scoring. Giroux leads the league in three areas: nine assists, six power play assists and six power play points.
Rookie Travis Konecny is tied for fifth with six assists. Wayne Simmonds’ four power play goals rank first with Matt Moulson (Buffalo). 
Lotta offense behind the Flyers' 28 goals scored.
“It’s a good question,” Voracek said. “It’s tough to say. It’s still early, but if you’re going to get scored on so many goals a game, you’re obviously doing something wrong. Might be the case. It’s hard to answer. 
“We have to make sure even if we have talented players offensively ... we have to be responsible defensively. In today’s hockey, everybody can play defense.” 
You never know which direction these games against Pittsburgh will go. They can be very physical and low-scoring. Or they can be wide-open, pond hockey with a goal fest. 
“Bluntly, last year, they played a fast, pressure-type game and I didn’t think we dealt very well with it,” Hakstol said. “That won’t be any different tomorrow. 
“They’ll play a fast, pressure-type game and we have to be ready to deal with it and take advantage of it. That will be a challenge for us.”
Defensive pairs
Hakstol changed his defensive pairs in practice. 
Brandon Manning worked with Radko Gudas; Ivan Provorov worked with Mark Streit; and Nick Schultz was with Shayne Gostisbehere.
Why the changes?
“They weren’t very good [against Arizona],” Hakstol replied. “It’s not all on the D-pairs, that’s for sure. There is some thought process behind ... switching the pairs. But ultimately, the goal is to have a more competitive group of six back there playing below the top of our circles.”
Andrew MacDonald, who had several turnovers/miscues this week, will sit against the Penguins.
Hakstol didn’t mince words when asked why he was reinserting Schultz into the lineup.
“Absolute, competitive, prideful defender,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
As for the lines, it would appear Nick Cousins will be scratched because he centered Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton in practice and both are injury-scratches right now.