Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
In truth, the Flyers’ season was finished weeks ago, when they limped home from an eight-game road trip with five straight losses to some of the NHL’s least impressive competition.
Or, maybe the death knell truly began in November, when the Flyers staggered through a 1-8-1 stretch that saw coach Craig Berube throw darts seemingly around the entire locker room to determine healthy scratches on an underwhelming roster.
No matter. There will be plenty of time over the next 3 months to dissect when, where and what caused the Flyers to unravel.
What cannot be debated is that last night served as the first obvious moment when the Flyers stopped believing. With atrocious body language and even less energy, they were shut out for the second night in a row and whipped, 4-0, by a Vancouver team that had scored only two goals in its previous three games.
It didn’t take much more than one goal allowed to make the mentally fragile Flyers to crumble.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will have a hearing Wednesday for an elbow to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Steve Downie during a game at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday night.
Suter was not penalized on the play at approximately 4:24 of the second period. Downie left the game and did not return.
The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: elbowing. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.
The Flames won the game 7-2.
via Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Suter tonight also elbowed Steve Downie in the head in the second period and Downie never returned. Suter will have a hearing with the NHL on Wednesday and faces a suspension. If he is suspended and with Falk hurt, Jon Blum will draw in and the Wild will need a defenseman -- I'd assume Matt Dumba.
Suter said it was a fluky play and doesn’t think he will be suspended, that he went to reach for the puck and when he put his hand back on his stick, that’s when Downie skated into his elbow. The video is being inspected by the league and it did look like his elbow jutted out.
I saw Suter talking to Sidney Crosby at the end of the period and he said he was telling Crosby to apologize to Downie, telling Crosby that you know that “I’m not that type of player.”
“I personally never want to see anyone get hurt,” he said.
Watch the incident below...
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
For a man who swore he'd stick to the long-term vision that got him hired, Ron Hextall last week showed the same shortsightedness that has kept the Flyers coming up empty since 1975.
Under no circumstances should Steve Mason have been in net on Thursday night, let alone Saturday.
Alas, the allure of a last-gasp, miracle run to the Stanley Cup playoffs got the best of Hextall.
Now, the Flyers are lucky Mason - one of just three pieces Hextall should be hellbent on building the future around - will miss only the next 2 weeks with a "lower-body" injury.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Granted, when the Flyers willfully violated terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by traveling on Dec. 26, it was not exactly a capital crime.
Except it was, because it struck at the core of what the league professes to hold so near and dear, and that’s integrity of the competition.
I mean, that’s why the NHL has a hard cap, right?
But anyway, of course scheduling the Flyers to play in Nashville on Dec. 27 was unfair.
Kind of like scheduling the Flyers to play against the Predators any time or any place this year would be unfair. Wait, who said that?
But such inequities happen all the time. The Rangers, for instance, played their home opener as a tired team having traveled after a game the previous night in Columbus while their opponents, the Maple Leafs, were rested and waiting in New York for the Blueshirts.
continued plus more hockey topics like this...
Just a thought, but perhaps if Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs’ father, “Mr. Jacobs,” wasn’t one of the most hard-line hawks through Owners’ Lockout III, the B’s wouldn’t have been forced to dispense with Johnny Boychuk in order to stay under the cap.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Mason has been bothered with a lower-body injury lately and today it looks like he may have tweaked it again.
The Flyers say he will be reevaluated on Sunday.
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
"The next 20 games mean a lot,'' said R.J. Umberger, whose third-period goal tied a game that appeared to once again be slipping from the Flyers' shaky grasp. "We're not going to quit. We're going to take advantage of this stretch of home games and be a better road team down the stretch here. A lot can happen in the second half of the year.''
And a lot must. To have even half a chance to make the playoffs, the Flyers would need points in 30 of their remaining 41 games and would need to win 24 of them, according to SportsClubStats.com. Stated more starkly, a 23-14-4 record the rest of the way would give the Flyers just a 0.4 chance of making the postseason.
Can you say, "Snowball in H-E-Double-hockey-sticks?"
Berube preaches a one-game-at-a-time approach, but the locker-room vocabulary now regularly includes phrases like "streak," "run" and even "games." Beating Boston would shrink the margin between the teams to seven, losing would increase it to double digits, but this half-done, half-empty season is way more complicated than that. There are too many games and too many teams to play one-on-one, and so the focus remains an internal one....
Fire the coach, right? Instead, Hextall, amid threats that changes will be made if the team does not perform better, continually gives Berube a vote of confidence.
This does not mean he sees Berube as his coach in the future. Contrary to a popular outcry, the Flyers don't always try to solve their issues from within, as Ken Hitchcock and Peter Laviolette demonstrate. But they almost always try to fix them that way.
from Randy Miller of NJ.com,
The Flyers won't be close to holding a playoff spot when they reach the halfway point to the season after playing the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
Bad first half, right?
"I think our progress is really good," captain Claude Giroux said. "We've been getting better."
Progressing good? Getting better?
The Flyers beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in a shootout last Tuesday, but they were 0-4-1 in five games before that and currently are nine points out of a playoff spot with a 15-18-7 record.
Maybe our record doesn't show, but I think the last month or so we've been playing some good hockey. We've playing the way we want to, but at the end you've got to find a way to win games and that's one thing we need to figure out."
Ah, figuring out how to win would be a good idea.
from Sarah Baicker of CSNPhilly,
The decision to knowingly violate the NHL's collective bargaining agreement will cost the Flyers $50,000, according to a source.
The team flew to Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 26, one of three required days off from team activities, according to article 16.5(b) of the CBA (see story). Teams are prevented from organized activities including management and coaching staff from Dec. 24-26.
General manager Ron Hextall said he was approached by players who requested the team depart for Nashville earlier than 12:01 a.m. Dec. 27, when teams playing on the road were permitted by the CBA to resume travel. It is very rare for a team to travel on the day of a game; in fact, for flights longer than 2.5 hours in length, the CBA forbids doing so.
from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,
Ron Hextall said he’s seen enough from his underachieving hockey club, and unless there’s some major improvement in a hurry, moves will be made with an eye toward next season and beyond.
“We’re not at the point where we’re looking at getting rid of guys, but I would say that probably we’re not far from the point where if we don’t get it going, we’re going to have to start thinking about some things,” the Flyers' general manager said.
“In saying that, you look at those things all the time. Every day, who can help us now and who can help us in the future. If there is anything out there, then we will move forward with it. Obviously, we’re not happy with the performance of the team.”
Hextall made the comment during a conference call Monday afternoon when asked about his hockey team, which is facing a near-impossible task of getting back into the playoff picture.
On one hand, the Flyers broke a seemingly minor rule. Outside of the holiday season, the NHL requires all teams to be in town the night before a regular-season road game.
On the other hand, this was just another example of the Flyers' willingness to push the envelope of the CBA in order to gain a competitive advantage. The optics surrounding the Flyers' cushy relationship with league headquarters were already unseemly, especially considering a player on the team's payroll (Chris Pronger) is working in an official capacity for the league in helping determine player discipline.
The Flyers are also the only team in the NHL to exceed the league's salary cap in real dollars spent almost every season since the cap was put in place in 2005. They have used the long-term injury exception every year to remain cap compliant.
-Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News where you can read more on this topic.
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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