Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Within the long and difficult history of NHL theater in Pennsylvania, few performances had less tangible import than Wednesday night’s Penguins-Flyers appointment, only the third of this season but the 272nd since both franchises were newborns just 48 years ago.
As a general practice, when the setting is adjacent to three rivers, the local populace brings to the situation enough venom to fill all three to flood stage, which is perhaps why the entanglement Wednesday was so unusual.
Pittsburgh’s frothing fan base wanted something different this time, owing to the unusual balance of power in the Metropolitan Division, where the Penguins are preparing for the postseason just as the Flyers are packing for some truly fabulous extended vacations.
When the Flyers are sipping champagne in the south of France or frolicking with supermodels on some remote Pacific Isle, the Penguins will be mucking it up in the fabulous Nassau Coliseum, now with actually very little asbestos.
Wait a minute. Does that sound like a good deal?
Somehow, it’s preferred.
Penguins loyalists prefer their Flyers game plans to toggle between aggravated assault and attempted homicide, or, put another way, to be the mirror image of the one most frequently delivered by Philadelphia. But if there were a behavioral phrase more apt Wednesday night, and certainly more hoped for, it was, um, “Be nice!”
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
No one gets under the skin of the Pittsburgh Penguins like the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think honestly we take them out of their game,” Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds said several months ago. “I think they hate us so much that everyone’s blood is just boiling the whole game.”
Simmonds is injured and won’t play in Wednesday’s game, but the rest of the Flyers will try to continue to get in the Penguins’ heads. They’re artists at it the way captain Sidney Crosby is at piling up points, and to keep the latter from scoring at will, other opponents have begun following the Flyers’ lead.
“Obviously when you play against one of the best players in the world, you want to try and do something to stop him,” Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said Tuesday. “Whatever it takes to get under his skin, I think we’re going to try to do.”
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at Yahoo,
"Maybe it's just a better opportunity I need," Lecavalier said. "It happens to a lot of guys. Sometimes you just have to get out of it, try to get out of it and work hard through it and maybe another opportunity will happen."
Lecavalier is in the process of selling his home in Tampa, Fla., and is renting a house in the Philadelphia area. After 14 seasons as the face of the Lightning franchise, uncertainty has become the new normal for the Ile Bizard, Que., native.
Owed another $2 million roster bonus this summer, Lecavalier will have made $14 million of the $22.5 million from his contract before stepping onto the ice next season. Counting buyout payments from the Lightning that run through the 2026-2027 season, Lecavalier could earn the most money of any player in NHL history, with Jaromir Jagr the only active challenger.
Lecavalier said he wouldn't ask the Flyers to buy him out of this deal. He just wants to play.
"I feel like I've trained my whole career to extend those years and feel good when I'm 35, 36, 37 years old," he said. "I feel like it's not a matter of not having legs or anything like that. I was never a really fast guy. I've always been the same speed. I feel good."
from Randy Miller of NJ.com,
Despite a feeling around hockey that Lecavalier is untradeable because of the length of his contract and declining offensive statistics, there does seem to be a way to work a divorce that will make both sides happy.
The Flyers, in fact, came very close to trading twice Lecavalier last summer, NJ Advance Media has learned. Lecavalier almost was moved to the Florida Panthers in June, and he twice almost was dealt to the Nashville Predators in July.
The reason neither trade was completed, according to sources, is that Panthers and Predators ownership called off the otherwise done deals.
"I think there are enough people in hockey circles that know that the deal was awfully close with Nashville," Kent Hughes, Lecavalier's agent, told NJ Advance Media in a phone interview. "I can't comment on specifics. Unfortunately, it didn't materialize for reasons other than personnel."
There's reason to believe that Lecavalier could be tradable this summer as well, despite very disappointing 2014-15 stats: seven goals, 17 points and a minus-10 rating in 51 games, almost all of them coming with the natural center playing right wing on the Flyers' fourth line.
via Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
The Flyers' win over Chicago on Wednesday night came at a price.
Forward Wayne Simmonds and defenseman Andrew MacDonald will both miss the remaining seven games of the season, general manager Ron Hextall announced after the game. Both players blocked shots in the third period, resulting in apparent fractures.
Simmonds limped off the bench at the end of the game with a left leg injury. MacDonald appeared to get caught with a shot on his right hand.
Simmonds, 26, scored his 100th career goal as a Flyer (284 games) earlier in the night. He will ultimately fall short of the elusive 30-goal plateau - ending his season with 28, one short of the career-high 29 he set last year. Only 9 players in the NHL currently have 30 goals.
MacDonald, 29, finishes out a trying first full season with the Flyers with another injury. He injured his knee in October, causing him to miss 10 consecutive games until Nov. 19. After that, he's been a healthy scratch for six games at varying times in the year, including three in a row after missing a game to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Nova Scotia. He admitted playing under the expectations of a six-year, $30 million deal has been burdensome.
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen was in the midst of his first press gathering in Philadelphia since the Philadelphia Flyers traded him Feb. 27.
After eight years as a member of the Flyers, Timonen was asked how the crowd would react for his return to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
Timonen, the stoic 40-year-old Finn, took several beats to gather himself as the memories of the past washed over him.
"I only have good memories here," he finally said. "I'm sure it's going to be good. All the things that happened here. ... I'm happy to be here."
"That guy is such a great human being off the ice, on the ice," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "It's a really good example for me. I was 21, 22 when I got here. He showed me the way, how to be a better person and how to be a better hockey player. That guy's a pro every single way. ... I'm very happy for him that he's got a chance to battle for a Stanley Cup because he really deserves it."
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
"I mean, for us to give up now and say we're not a playoff team and we've got to be patient and all that kind of thing, sends the wrong message, I think. To the guys who are here, to our fans, to everybody."
Ah, yes, there's the rub. Ed's half-full approach may be fueled by the memory of half-empty buildings - or the fear of them. He's also, at age 82, still one of the most hopeful and emotional fans this town will ever know. Anyone who saw how happy he was in the locker room when the Flyers were a few points from a playoff position a few weeks ago can attest to that.
So he can be forgiven for wanting more in less time. What can't be forgiven is if that leads to the same type of short-term decision-making from which Hextall is trying to dig out.
"That's not my method of operation," Snider said. "There are times GMs do things and I cringe. But the bottom line is that Ron has come in and his attitude is that we have to be patient with the kids and so forth. But I don't think we've ever really been impatient with the kids. It's a question that he wanted to establish his philosophy. Which I respect."
from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,
Asked whether he deserved another chance to coach next year, Berube laughed.
“When you don’t make the playoffs, anything can happen,” Berube replied. “Especially here. We’re still fighting to make the playoffs. If that happens, who knows what can happen. It’s an organization that has a lot of pride. They want to be in the fight every year.”
The Flyers' "tragic number" is now five. Five points earned by Ottawa — the current second wild card — or five points lost by the Flyers eliminates the Flyers from the playoff hunt.
When that happens, Berube’s short reign is likely over.
“Do I love coaching here?” Berube asked. “Yep, I do.”
"I don't believe our effort has been an area where you could say we have a problem here in terms of flat-out effort. I think consistency has been our biggest issue. I think you see certain games and we play real well, we execute, we have good puck support, our lines work well together, our D-pairs work, we move the puck quick. Then there's other games where we're just off our game. But again, I wouldn't say effort is a problem here. We've got a pretty good group of people."
-Ron Hextall, GM of the Philadelphia Flyers. More from Hextall from Randy Miller of NJ.com.
from Tom Flynn of PennLive,
There might not be any bigger fan of Eagles coach Chip Kelly than embattled Flyers coach Craig Berube. With all of the moves Kelly has made recently, Berube has enjoyed convenient cover for a series of missteps that should cost him his job.
After Saturday's game in Edmonton, the Flyers are eight games from a season that will end without a playoff berth for only the third time in 19 seasons. Since 16 of the 30 teams in the NHL make the playoffs, it requires some effort to join the 47 percent that will be making tee times starting April 12, the day after the regular season ends.
Certainly, Berube has a co-conspirator in Paul Holmgren, the former general manager who left the coach with an ill-fitting roster. A defensive corps comprised mostly of second-pairing (at best) talent and a huge lack of secondary scoring hindered the team all season.
Also, the huge contracts and minuscule production from washed-out veterans Vinny Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger will continue to be a problem because their outsize deals will prevent any sort of trade.
What should get Berube canned, however, is his puzzling mistreatment of goalie Steve Mason, who has become the team's most indispensable player.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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