Just a few notes on the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Capitals on Thursday night...
- The home team did a great job staying out of the box, tallying just 4 PIM. Still, penalty calls against the team accounted for a 2-goal swing on the scoreboard, with the Caps scoring on a first period power play, and the Flyers having what would have been the game-tying goal wiped out by a penalty called on Mike Knuble.
- Speaking of which, I don't remember the last time I heard a louder "Asshole" chant. The goal light went on, the Pennywise started up, and the place went nuts. 2-2. Then it became clear that it was nullified, and most people thought Knuble was called for goalie interference, which hadn't been called on an earlier play in which the Caps had a goal immediately called off because Marty Biron was interfered with. The Caps weren't assessed a penalty, with the ref stating it was incidental contact (replay appears to confirm this), but seeing Knuble carted off, followed by the replay showing that he lightly pushed his defender, who flopped hard on the ice as the puck passed by Jose Theodore. The chants rained down for a few minutes, first "Assssshole," then "Hey Ref, You Suck!" Simon Gagne being hauled down on a questionable play by Alex Ovechkin during a breakaway didn't help matters for the zebras.
- Anyone else think booing Ovechkin every time he touches the puck is kinda lame? That kind of treatment should be reserved for true offenders, not just for any rival's superstar.
- How sweet was this?
- Marty Biron played a great game, giving up only a power play goal and an Ovechkin rocket after a turnover behind his crease.
- The Flyers led in most statistical categories, including shots, faceoffs, hits, and (fewer) penalty minutes. They put up 38 shots, but the key stat (which sadly we don't have) was the number of missed shots they had. So many pucks seemed to sail high or wide, or trickle just outside the goal mouth.
- Two categories they didn't do so well in (other than goals-for): takeaways and giveaways. Lots of very poor passing on power plays and even strength.
- Fans of every sport in any city love to hate on obviously middle-of-the-road players. Special-teamers filling in on D, middle relievers, reserve infielders, etc... The dumbass behind me screamed at Andrew Alberts all night, as if not winning the Norris Trophy this season would somehow be a breach of his contract. Alberts, by the way, was even for the night and registered three hits in a game in which the Caps scored only twice. Not surprisingly, Arron Asham and Riley Cote were hearing it from this guy too. They are members of the fourth line. Out of four.
- Dan Carcillo is having a slow start at becoming a fan favorite, as he was held off the score sheet while Scottie Upshall netted his third goal since being traded to Phoenix. Gotta be hard for Carcillo, first being under the microscope because he's the guy the Flyers traded a popular player away for, and then Upshall starts tearing it up for the other team. One reason for Upshall's increased production is that he's averaging just under 5 minutes more ice time per game since joining the Coyotes.
- It's a relief to see that Danny Briere is likely healthy again. He got hit a few times, but got up without any issues after every one. Hopefully it lasts, and the funk the Flyers power play was in tonight doesn't.
- Up next is a weekend home-and-home with the Rangers, starting Saturday afternoon in Philly, and a game in Detroit on Tuesday.
The NBA has determined a new date for the Sixers home game against the Kings, which was postponed on Nov. 30 because of unsafe playing conditions on the court.
The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. This will create back-to-backs for both teams.
The Sixers are playing in Chicago on Jan. 29. They will play consecutive games against the Bulls and Kings, then have a road back-to-back against the Mavericks and Spurs on Feb. 1 and 2.
The Kings will be on what is now an eight-game road trip. They will play a back-to-back against the Rockets the next night in Houston.
Bill Dineen, who had the distinction of being Eric Lindros’ first NHL coach, died early Saturday morning at his home in Lake George, New York. He was 84.
“Such a wonderful person, who got along with everybody,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “I never played for him, but worked with him in scouting. Just a great guy.”
Dineen succeeded Holmgren as head coach during the 1991-92 season.
“When I got fired, a lot of our guys were squeezing their sticks,” Holmgren said. “They were tight. It shouldn’t be hard to play the game. When things got tough, they were a little under stress, Billy coming in, he loosened things up.”
Dineen coached parts of two seasons here from 1991-92 through the 1992-93 season, which was Lindros’ first year as a Flyer.
“Bill treated everyone with the utmost respect,” Holmgren said. “He was the perfect guy for Eric coming in here. That respect goes both ways. He was almost a grandfatherly figure for Eric at the time.”
Dineen served as a scout with the organization from 1990-91 until succeeding Holmgren as coach. He then returned to a scouting role in 1993-94 and remained with the Flyers as a scout through 1996-97.
Mark Howe, one of the greatest Flyers defensemen of all-time, played for Dineen as an 18-year-old rookie in the WHA with the Houston Aeros (1973-74), and also had him during his final year as a Flyer in 1991-92.
“He was one of the best people I ever met in the game of hockey,” Howe said. “He was a real players coach. Of all the guys I ever played for. Maybe a little Paul Holmgren, too.
“If you lost the game, he was one of the very few people if you went for a bite to eat or a beer after the game you lost, you actually felt poorly for letting the coach down.”
Howe said Dineen’s teams weren’t all about skill.
“He picked people that were about ‘the team,'” Howe said. “He made me earn my spot that first year in Houston.”
Dineen posted a 60-60-20 record with the Flyers. His son, Kevin, played on both of those teams before assuming the captaincy from Rick Tocchet in 1993-94.
A gentleman behind the bench, Bill Dineen was much the same person as a player. A former right wing who spent the majority of his six-year playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, he had just 122 penalty minutes in 322 games, scoring 51 goals and 95 points.
“I knew Billy for a long time," Flyers senior vice president Bob Clarke said. "He was a player and coach at the minor league level and the NHL level, but I think more importantly he was a really, really good hockey person and really good person.”
Dineen won two WHA titles coaching the Aeros and two Stanley Cups as a player with the Red Wings. A member of the AHL Hall of Fame, Dineen also coached the Adirondack Red Wings from 1983 through 1988-89.
Three of his five sons — Gordon, Peter and Kevin — played in the NHL. Sons Shawn and Jerry had their roots in the AHL.
“His boys are scattered all over the map,” Holmgren said. “Just a tremendous hockey family.”
Dineen is part of Flyer folklore trivia. He, along with Keith Allen and Vic Stasiuk, were all Red Wings teammates during 1953-53. They also shared something else in common: all three later became Flyers head coaches.