Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flyers close out home season against Isles tonight

Flyers fans ... you have one more big chance this season to see your favorite team tonight, when they welcome the New York Islanders to town.
Um ... plenty of good scalper seats will be available.
What to look for? Well, after starting Steve Mason in goal for two straight games and five of the past eight, coach Peter Laviolette has decided to give Ilya Bryzgalov the start against the surging Isles. You might wonder if it's the last start Bryzgalov might make for the club, if you're a believer in the speculation about the Flyers using a compliance buyout on the Bryz in the offseason.
Myself ... I think he's here another year.
Anyway, other guys on the outs, pending free agents Mike Knuble, Kent Huskins and Kurtis Foster, all came off the practice ice late today, meaning they likely won't play tonight. Instead, it'll essentially be five Phantoms and Luke Schenn on the blue line tonight, which can be entertaining.
Another reason to want to watch this last home game: The Flyers team awards will be presented before the game.
You really have to be a fan to want to see that this year.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bryz given a wakeup call? Who sayzzzzzzzz?

Because talk radio and reality rarely mix, several Flyers, their head coach and general manager had to be asked Wednesday whether Ilya Bryzgalov fell asleep in a team meeting Monday.
That was the reason, so the story goes, that Steve Mason started his first game as a Flyer in what was alleged to be a very important Tuesday night on Long Island, one that turned into a 4-1 loss.
A few players and their coach denied that the report of the sleepy Bryz, which came out on the Flyers' flagship station 97.5 The Fanatic Wednesday morning. Foremost in that mix was veteran Mike Knuble, who was apparently well versed on the rumor du jour, so he said this when asked if he ever saw people falling asleep in the meetings Peter Laviolette calls:
“Not unless they’re narcoleptic,” Knuble said with a half a grin. Noting there would be no time in that meeting to fall asleep, Knuble added, “You hardly even sat down. I don’t think your (butt) made your spot on the bench warm enough. I mean ... that’s silly, that’s asinine."
Knuble went on to describe the usual scene of a team meeting.
"You’re sitting in a bright room, in the middle of the day," he said. "It’s not like you’re locked into a film session for 45 minutes. Then I might see it. But not for half-a-cup of coffee meeting. Not even that.”
Others offering comments on this tabloid radio report:
Coach Peter Laviolette: "That’s completely incorrect."
Ruslan Fedotenko: "Who fell asleep?"
Wayne Simmonds: "I've heard no such thing. I did not see him sleeping in the team meeting."
And Kimmo Timonen: "No, that’s not true. I’ll tell you that on the record. And that’s it. If you want to ask more, you should ask Lavy (Peter Laviolette). It’s not my business to tell you what happened or didn’t happen. What a scoop."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Flyers claim Hall off waivers

One day after the Carolina Hurricanes sent forward Adam Hall and a seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for Marc-Andre Bergeron, the Lightning put Hall on waivers ... and the Flyers made him theirs today.
That's been the extent of their Trade Deadline Day activity so far, picking up the veteran Hall off waivers. They also apparently have kept defenseman Kurtis Foster, who was to be on waivers until 12 noon. There has been no word of him being claimed.
Hall is 32, hasn't scored a goal this year but provides needed depth with both Max Talbot and Danny Briere both likely out for at least the balance of the regular season.
Hall is rather well traveled. He has 591 career NHL games under his belt, including stints with Pittsburgh, Minnesota, the Rangers, Nashville, Carolina and Tampa twice.
He has 65 career goals and 147 career points.
As for Briere, who has been out the past 10 days with a concussion, he told the Daily Times today that he's still experiencing rather severe symptoms and only now is starting light exercise again after suffering a few setbacks.
Briere is not optimistic of a return to action anytime soon. More on this later.

Flyers' deadline target: Yandle ... or stay pat

The Flyers had interest in trying to bring back Jaromir Jagr, but their interest had real financial limits, so Jagr went to the Boston Bruins.
The Flyers had interest in San Jose's goalless power forward Ryane Clowe, too, but as one source said, that interest was so "complicated" by salary cap uncertainties regarding a long-term contract extension, the Flyers eventually stepped aside and the New York Rangers traded for Clowe.
Two down, none coming as the trade deadline now lies hours away. But the Flyers have gained one important thing: a reaffirmation of where they stand.
Team president Peter Luukko indicated Tuesday night that above all, the Flyers were committed to their young core players to the point of no return. This is Claude Giroux's team, this is where Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds can develop into star players, this is even where Matt Read can continue to build a solid NHL career.
You know, so far.
As such, injuries to Danny Briere (concussion) and Max Talbot (leg fracture), and defensemen Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) and Braydon Coburn (shoulder) have essentially taken them out of the mix for the balance of the season. So what Paul Holmgren is looking at Wednesday is filling holes.
That said, there is one deal that might be on the table today that could loom much larger for the future. The Flyers are probably the frontrunner among teams interested in Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, an All-Star two years ago who has grown into a Coyotes team leader. He's strong and solid on the blue line, has real scoring savvy and yes, comes with a $5.25 million cap hit for three more years.
He's the kind of guy the Flyers need right now and going forward. He would cost them a top-flight young forward and probably a good prospect or two. He's the kind of player that can change minds on the management level.
Yes, the Flyers' brass is committed to this group of young players.
Yes, the Flyers' brass simply hasn't been able to draft and develop any defensemen since ... well, your guess is as good as mine.
This is a team with a defense in shambles. The Coyotes, who fielded talk about Yandle from the Flyers and Red Wings at last June's draft, aren't of a mind to trade him but have enough defensive depth to be able to afford a Yandle trade for scoring help.
Either now or at the draft, the pitches will be made.
As for bartering ammo, Read will certainly have to be considered, as will some top Flyers prospects.
For now, those prospects are staying put.
The Flyers have what they feel are two top-flight prospects in Sault ste. Marie center Nick Cousins, a third-round pick in 2011 who was among the top-three in the OHL in scoring, and Union College sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, their third-round pick from 2012. Both are 19 and neither apparently will be called upon to show what they have right now.
Then there is Cousins' linemate from Sault, 21-year-old Brandon Alderson, who developed a scoring knack on wing in this last year of juniors. There are no immediate plans for him to step up, either, even though Sault Ste. Marie's season is over.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Talbot's injury likely has Holmgren of mind to deal

Now diagnosed with a leg fracture as feared last night, Max Talbot indeed is finished for the season, and that means Paul Holmgren likely will be active before the 3 p.m. trade deadline Wednesday.
There are multiple reports today from Canada and here that the Flyers have had informal talks about San Jose power forward Ryane Clowe. He'd be a nice fit as a physical left wing, but Clowe seems to have forgotten how to score.
At 30, he's a pending unrestricted free agent, but one with a slipping resume. Clowe opened eyes by scoring 24 goals and 62 points in 75 games two seasons ago. But last season he scored 17 gaols and 45 points in 76 games, and through 28 games this season has yet to score a goal but has garnered 11 assists.
The theory is Clowe has only recently began to get healthy, but then, the Sharks are trying to sell him. According to, their director of pro scouting was in Philadelphia Saturday to catch the Flyers-Bruins game, then flew to Montreal to catch that night's Canadiens-Rangers game.
Other than the fact that John Ferguson Jr. wants to collect frequent traveler miles, you can figure a mini-bidding war for a guy with no goals is shaping up.
Yet a newspaper report in Saint John's, Newfoundland, from which Clowe hails, says their boy will likely be dealt to the Flyers today. Hmmm.
In addition to the Flyers, the Bruins, Habs and Rangers all have interest in Clowe. For the Flyers, then, you'd think that would mean they might consider parting with the guy everyone wants, Sean Couturier.
He's another player having a lousy year. But Couturier is 20 and showed enough during the stretch run and in the playoffs last season to confirm a very bright future.
Giving him up for just Clowe wouldn't make sense. Adding a high draft pick into the mix might.
The Flyers are also believed to be flirting again with the idea of trading for Jaromir Jagr, though there are some people in the organization that think that would literally be a step back. However, the Talbot injury and Danny Briere's ongoing concussion problem changes the landscape here now.
Either way, Holmgren is probably in a position to change his thinking. In an interview early Saturday, he all but cast aside the notion of being a buyer ahead of the trade deadline. But Holmgren did acknowledge that opinion could change with a couple of quick wins.
The Flyers promptly beat the Bruins Saturday and Capitals in spectacular fashion Sunday night, got some help along the way, and were suddenly two points out of a playoff spot.
If Holmgren has changed his mind, however, it's obvious that defense has to be his No. 1 priority. Talbot and Briere may be out, maybe both for the balance of the regular season. But the Flyers are also missing three regular defensemen, with Nick Grossmann day to day (but he has been for a while), Braydon Coburn out for at least another few weeks with a separated shoulder and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) facing season ending surgery Tuesday.
The Flyers have long favored Jay Bouwmeester, who has been around forever even though he's all of 29. He has one more year left on his deal for Calgary at a relatively enormous $6.25 million cap hit, but the Flyers are visible in all trade rumors associated with Bouwmeester, along with Detroit and Ottawa.