Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
In his first year with the Flyers, after signing a five-year deal for $22.5 million, Lecavalier managed 20 goals but just 37 points after 14 mostly productive seasons with Tampa Bay.
"It's easy to look back and make excuses, but whatever happened, happened," Lecavalier said before he scored one of the Flyers' four power-play goals as their split-squad team beat Washington, 5-4, Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I was put on left wing and I should have been better. It was the first time I ever played that position, but at the same time, you have to try to adapt quicker. Obviously, I didn't. But now's a new year and I want to move on from last year. Right now, I'm in the middle and I'm very comfortable there. It's just more natural for me."
Lecavalier centered right winger R.J. Umberger and left winger Petr Straka on Monday. When the regular season opens in Boston on Oct. 8, there's a good chance that Michael Raffl will replace Straka on that line.
"I'd be really happy" if the line ends up that way, said Lecavalier, who has 403 career goals and will get strong Hall of Fame consideration when he retires. "I think we're three big bodies, and I think there's some chemistry there."
from Jeff Simmons of Sportsnet,
Biggest story line to watch: Without Hartnell, the Flyers created a sizeable hole at the top of their forward group. Hartnell was a strong fit alongside centre Giroux and right winger Vorcaek on the first line, so Berube and the coaching staff must quickly find an adequate replacement. Early reports indicate Umberger could be a fit in that role, but he hardly provides the size and physicality that worked so well with the two scorers. Others in consideration are Schenn, Vincent Lecavalier and Michael Raffl, who all saw time in the role last year.
2014-15 prediction: Despite the Flyers’ strength up front, Philly will take a minor step back without Hartnell and fail to qualify for the playoffs. They don’t have enough on the back end. Philly finishes ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The Flyers have questions about their Kimmo Timonen-less defense; questions about Claude Giroux's health and who will replace left winger Scott Hartnell; questions about whether young players such as Sean Couturier, Luke Schenn, and Michael Del Zotto can take their games to another level.
But for the first time in a while, there are few questions about the team's most important position.
That's because goalie Steve Mason rediscovered his mojo last season, and even outplayed the great Henrik Lundqvist in the Flyers' seven-game playoff loss to the New York Rangers.
"There's not one person in the organization that doesn't believe in Mason," forward Brayden Schenn said after the Flyers opened camp Friday in Voorhees. "You see what he did last year. When he's on his game, he's one of the better goalies in the league. Just shooting on him in practice, there's no holes. And the thing about him is that he never quits on a play, even in practice."
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen will attempt to play during the 2014-15 season but admitted Thursday that the chances of that happening are "slim" due to blood clots that were found in his lower right leg and in both lungs in early August.
"My desire is I want to play but [the] chance of me playing is really slim," Timonen said. "That's the fact. But I'm ready to wait for that chance and see how I feel.
from David Isaac of the Courier-Post,
The team's founder doesn't usually show up until midway through training camp and Saturday he was at the team's practice facility in a bright orange windbreaker with a Flyers emblem on the left side of his chest ready for the first day of rookie camp.
Snider, 81, found out earlier this year that he had cancer, but after radiation and chemotherapy, it's "all gone." He feels full of life and ready to start another campaign hoping to re-create the magic of 39 years ago, the last time the Flyers won a Stanley Cup....
Snider says he's constantly reminded the Flyers haven't won a Cup since 1975. The almosts and close calls over the years have haunted him.
"The bottom line is that's success," Snider said. "To get to the finals and then something always (expletive) happens to us in the finals."...
Don't mention the Stanley Cup Finals in 1976 when the Montreal Canadiens won the first of four straight Cups and swept the Flyers, although the first three games were won by one goal.
"They barely beat us!" an animated Snider said. "That team would have won four or so in a row. I just feel like somehow we're snakebit and somebody's putting pins in a doll."
from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,
Who in your mind has improved the most in the East and in your division?
Hextall: Oh, boy. Boy, that’s a good question.
Looks to me like the Rangers and Penguins took steps backwards.
Hextall: People maybe look at Tampa in the East and say they improved. I always say, if you don’t improve from within, you can only make so many steps. ... You can’t sign free agents X and Y and say, ‘Oh, we’ve gotten so much better.’ Maybe you look at Minnesota two years ago and say they were the exception with [Zach] Parise and [Ryan] Suter. You say, ‘Well, they should be a lot better.’ It didn’t work out quite like some people thought it would. For the most part, you can’t go out and sign a free agent or two and say you took this huge step. Because of chemistry and everything else that goes into it. If you don’t get better from within, your chances of moving too far ahead are slim.
That’s where we focused this summer. Getting better from within. Not just on the ice, but some of our staff and minor league team. Little things we can improve in here like the analytical part or coaching part. There’s things we can get better. It’s not just the product on the ice which is a byproduct of all the little things that you improve on, whether it’s medical devices or training programs. Our team was very diligent about training [this summer]. Our team last year? I don’t think was in great shape. I really don’t, for whatever reason. We better be in better shape this year. 1 and 7 [start]? We can’t do that again. We got to be ready to go on opening night. We gotta fricking go! That type of thing far outweighs signing a decent free agent.
With Steve Mason struggling in net and Ray Emery injured again, Flyers GM Ron Hextall says “to hell with it”, signs himself to six-year, $18-million deal as Philadelphia’s newest goaltending savior. (I know, I know, this article is supposed to be about far-fetched predictions. But I had to throw this near-fetched one in there for a change of pace.)
-Adam Proteau of The Hockey News where you can read nine more of these "predictions".
“I think they’ll be a playoff team. There’s a big difference between getting a playoff spot and being a contender for the Cup and I still think they’re a little bit away from that, but I think they’re moving in the right direction.”
-John LeClair on the Philadelphia Flyers. More from LeClair on the Flyers by Katie Strang of ESPN.
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