Kukla's Korner Hockey
from David Isaac of the Courier-Post,
At the beginning of the season the Flyers' defense was popular among critics, but they actually haven't been that bad. Sure, part of it is chalked up to the goaltending of Mason, but the Flyers' 117 5-on-5 goals allowed this season is 12th fewest in the league heading into Friday's games.
So the big problem for the Flyers really is…
"The goal scoring. Again, I'll bring it up," coach Craig Berube said. "It's really dumbfounded me 5-on-5. Going into the year I expected more scoring that we have right now. I look at the 14 overtime (and shootout) losses and a lot of that is scoring. You get a goal here and there, and it's a different story. The offensive production 5-on-5 has definitely not been good enough."
At the beginning of the season, the Flyers probably didn't expect Michael Raffl to lead the team in even-strength scoring. Fifteen of his 16 goals have come with the teams at even strength while seven of Claude Giroux's 18 and half of Wayne Simmonds' 26 and Jake Voracek's 20 have come at even strength. As a team, the Flyers' 5-on-5 goal for and against ratio of 0.97 is 20th in the league.
"It's about getting to the net and getting more pucks to the net," Berube said. "That's my opinion. We get rush chances. I look back at the Dallas game there (Tuesday). We could have had three or four goals off the rush very easily. We had 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s. They didn't go in. But this time of year, especially this time of year, you gotta grind it out around the net to get goals."
via the Philadelphia Flyers,
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall announced this morning that forward R.J. Umberger will have surgery on his right hip and abdominal muscles this Wednesday in Philadelphia. He is expected to be out 10 weeks.
Umberger has missed the last two games after appearing in all 67 games from the start of the season. He has nine goals and six assists for 15 points, while averaging 13:49 of ice time, including 1:19 of power-play TOI and :58 of time on the penalty kill.
The 32-year-old Umberger is in his 10th season in the NHL and fourth overall with the Flyers. The Pittsburgh, Pa. native has appeared in 740 regular season games recording 178 goals and 203 assists for 381 points, while also adding 14 goals and 20 points in 30 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Other than the coaching position, the captain usually follows as the next logical scapegoat on a hockey team that fails to meet expectations.
Few take into account that the more likely reason for missing the Stanley Cup playoffs is roster construction and the fact that certain players failed to meet standards set in previous seasons. The Flyers have quite a few of those passengers this season.
It didn’t help, either, that the Flyers traded away both of their alternate captains from last season - Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. Berube admitted the Flyers missed Timonen’s “calming influence” in the locker room.
Even so, Giroux said he would not change anything the way this season has been handled from a captain’s perspective.
“We’re obviously not in the situation that we want to be in right now,” Giroux said. “We made a lot of mistakes that cost us that. It’s not one, two or three players - it’s everybody that comes together.
“I think we had times during the year that we played very good hockey, we played as a team, and our chemistry was really good. I don’t know how to explain (our troubles). When we have big games, we find a way to play at our best. I don’t know if we’re not ready or our motivation isn’t as good when we play against teams that are not as good. It’s obviously something we’ve got to look at.”
from Dave Isaac of the Courier Post,
Hextall has myriad concerns, including the fact that the Flyers have only two 20-goal scorers when they had seven last season. The Flyers went 1-5 to start this seaon, slightly better than their 1-7 start last season, but still abysmal.
“It’s bothersome because it’s not only the hole you put yourself into, it’s kinda the energy that you create at the start of the year,” Hextall said. “That is something we’ve talked about and we’ll continue to talk about and continue to look at because we’ve got to reverse that trend.”
Typically, coaches pay for that. Hextall gave coach Craig Berube a vote of confidence a couple of times this season. If the Flyers do opt to make a change with Berube, who has one year left on his contract, it won’t be until the summer.
There has been talk the team may end its traditional preseason bonding trip. The Flyers ended camp this season at Cape Cod and went to Lake Placid for the prior training camp, which team chairman Ed Snider deemed “one of the worst training camps I’ve ever seen.”...
Combine the recent lethargic play with the team’s terrible start to the season and it would make to wonder if there is a problem with leadership in the locker room?
“You know what, I think given the inconsistencies, I think it’s something we have to evaluate and see where we think it’s at,” Hextall said.
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
As the horn sounded to end the Flyers' 2-1 loss to Dallas, winger Jake Voracek smashed his stick against the boards and heaved what was left of it down the Wells Fargo Center ice Tuesday night.
A few minutes later, goalie Steve Mason did some heaving of his own, throwing verbal jabs at his teammates for their mostly lifeless effort over the final 50 minutes.
"There was no desperation," said Mason, who kept the Flyers in the game with a brilliant 37-save performance. "It's tough to come in the room after games like that. We need to have a much better effort, and it just wasn't there. I'm embarrassed and I hope everyone else is embarrassed, too, because to play like that at home in a situation where we have to come up big . . . and we come up like that."
Below, watch Steve Mason post-game...
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
So where do the Flyers go from here, and does coach Craig Berube have 15 games left in his tenure?
Barring a miracle, the Flyers will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. They have regressed in their second year under Berube, who is not the most beloved figure in the locker room.
Respected, yes. Beloved, no.
Some of the defensemen are still perturbed at the Blue Line Carousel that has had players yanked in and out of the lineup. Vinny Lecavalier, a center primarily used as a fourth-line right winger when he wasn't a healthy scratch, is fuming at the way he has been handled, and it's fair to wonder why he wasn't given a shot at being the second-line center for a few weeks to try to get him on track.
After Berube replaced the fired Peter Laviolette early last season, the Flyers went 42-27-10 under the new coach's defense-first style, reached the playoffs, and took the eventual Stanley Cup finalist New York Rangers to seven games in the opening round.
This year, the Flyers are 28-26-13, and the biggest indictment of Berube is this: With a playoff spot in sight, the Flyers have lost their last five games against teams that are not in playoff positions: Columbus, Buffalo, Carolina, Toronto, and New Jersey.
from Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News,
They began the weekend four points out of the last playoff spot. They now stand seven points behind the Bruins with 15 games to play.
The players said that they needed better effort all around.
The coach, however, disagreed. He actually appreciated the effort, in general, but somehow he was even less kind.
"Our top players, mentally, weren't there," Craig Berube said.
Coincidentally, the next question concerned top defenseman Mark Streit, who was a minus-4 and had his fingerprints on the first goal of the game . . . and little else that was good, Berube agreed.
"Mark - he's played real good hockey for us this year," Berube said. "Again, the defeat in Boston had a lot to do with that."
Top player Wayne Simmonds, usually a tireless competitor, said, "Today was awful. It's our compete level. We don't come to play every night."
Top player Claude Giroux, the captain, said, "We don't compete the right way."
via Hometown Hockey,
Reggie Leach has been defying the odds for most of his life. Growing up as the youngest of 13 kids in Riverton, Leach was forced to grow up quickly. From the moment he put on skates, he proved he was a natural.
The “Riverton Rifle” would go on to win a Stanley Cup, and is still the only position player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe trophy despite being on the losing team. His achievements on the ice are well documented, but it’s his accomplishments away from the rink that has spearheaded a grassroots effort to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
After battling addiction and getting his life back on track, Leach is devoted to making a difference in the First Nation Community. Stephen Brunt has his story.
from David Isaac of the Courier-Post,
Even if the Flyers had won in regulation Saturday and cut the deficit to two points, the Bruins have two games in hand on the Flyers and the potential to get four more points.
"We were 13 points away about a month ago," Voracek said. "When you would tell me we'd be five points away a month later, I wouldn't believe you. That's not the way we think (that the season is over). That's the way you guys (in the media) think. You didn't believe in us since Game 1. We know what we have in the locker room. We've just got to keep going."
If blaming the media is bulletin-board material for the Flyers, they'll start their hopeful comeback Sunday against the New Jersey Devils who have won six of their last nine games.
"It's always easy to bash and be harsh on the guys when the team doesn't play well. It's easy to do that when we play a game like that," Voracek said. "We've just got to make sure we refocus. I know it's hard. It's a tough pill to swallow."
If you believe sportsclubstats.com, which projects playoff chances based on more than 11 million simulations of the final 16 games, the Flyers have a measly 2.4 percent chance of making the postseason.
"The season's not over, is it?" coach Craig Berube said. "I don't know why anyone would think that."
Then this happened...
Below is the Eastern Conference picture afte the Boston win...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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