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 him—John 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.