Under new PWNERSHIP... FlyersPens Preview

Under new PWNERSHIP... FlyersPens Preview

He has twenty goals and twenty six assists in twenty six regular season games against the Flyers.  His team has eliminated Philadelphia from the post season two years in a row.  He has successfully surpassed Martin Brodeur as one of the most hated and feared Flyers' opponents of all time.  I'm going to ask you a very simple question... and I'll give you a hint.  The answer is not Ed Snider.  Who pwns the Philadelphia Flyers?

I've written before about our hatred for Sidney Crosby.  This was long before I watched his performance against the Flyers in the opening round last year and continued to watch him on the way to the Cup.  During said elimination, I wrote about the quickly widening gap between our interstate franchises.  Crosby and Malkin have reached an all new level in their game.  The team they play for followed suit last summer and now they have their names permanently etched on Lord Stanley's Cup.  Before Mike Richards.  Before Jeff Carter.  Before any of the Philadelphia Flyers that have taken to the ice post-1975. 

It was a sickening feeling, watching the Penguins win last year, but not in a "he doesn't deserve this" sort of way.  Crosby did things to our team in that opening round that I still can't believe.  In the following games against opponents like the Caps and the Hurricanes, his tenacity around the net was unmatched.  It seemed that anytime another player took their game to a new level... he or Malkin ramped their game up just one notch higher.'

In evaluation of the matchup for tonight's game, I came to the conclusion that Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will never be as talented as Sid the Kid.  He's all world/all universe.  They will also never win the cup BEFORE Crosby or Malkin.  The time for that oppurtunity has passed.  What they can do, is try to outwork the dynamic duo from Western Pa for the rest of their careers and hope that a solid team effort added to whatever greatness they can achieve on a personal basis will be enough to get them a Cup.  And in doing that, keep it from 87 and 71 till they're eventually split up or traded out of the East.

The trade for Chris Pronger was a blatant move to close that widening gap between our two Pa franchises.  Holmgren hopes that Pronger/Carle and Timonen/Coburn can negate the Crosby/Malkin effect.  Tonight is our first look at this defensive experiment.  So the mission, if the Flyers' young (and old) leaders choose to accept it... is to shut down the Pens and take game 1 in the season series.  Baby steps... if you will, to reclaiming the pwnership of this franchise. 

Injuries: Betts is out with a dislocated shoulder, one that's keeping him from raising his arm to get an MRI.  Homer says one month... sounds pretty bad.  JVR might miss this first  matchup against the Pens for precautionary reasons.  It wasn't a concussion and he passed all his tests, but time and time again "head injuries" prove to be as mysterious and unpredictable as how Great White Sharks reproduce.  Look for an injection of tough in the lineup courtesy of Asham, Cote and Tollefson.  I'm expecting a 30% increase in penalties taken, which after losing your top PK man, isn't good.

Sergei Gonchar played just 25 regular season games and was banged up against the Caps in the post season last year.  He's back, and healthy and of major concern to the Flyers.  The Pens lost Scuderi and Gill to higher bidders in the off season.

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”