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Important Flyers updates to close out ’09

Posted by Chris Shafer On December - 31 - 2009

Briere, Gagne, and Coburn help lead the Flyers to a four game winning streak to close out 2009.

Flyers on Four Game Win Streak to End 2009

The Flyers offense seems to have finally caught a second wind, and it has led to an incredible four game winning streak on the road to close out the 2009 calendar year. A ridiculous 16 goals in four games was only made that much better by the 6 total goals against with Michael Leighton, the human rebound machine, between the pipes.

The Flyers offense and defense both rallied behind the mid-season waiver pick-up from Carolina in incredible fashion whether it be Carle’s goal-line efforts against the Hurricanes or Gagne’s natural hat trick tonight to silence the Rangers.

Leighton gets the shutout in the 6-0 thrashing and has some impressive stats. Through the four wins he has a 1.44 goals-against-average along with a 0.958 save percentage. Granted he is out of position a lot and hands out heart-attack rebounds like candy. Still the Flyers have been able to find ways to keep rebounds out the net while sinking some pucks of their own.

Four Game Stat Reel

  • Simon Gagne: 4 -- 2 -- 6
  • Mike Richards: 3 -- 3 -- 6
  • Danny Briere: 3 -- 2 -- 5
  • Jeff Carter: 2 -- 3 -- 5
  • Claude Giroux: 1 -- 4 -- 5
  • Blair Betts: 3 -- 0 -- 3
  • Ian Laperriere: 0 -- 3 -- 3
  • Scott Hartnell: 0 -- 3 -- 3
  • Oscars Bartulis: 0 -- 2 -- 2
  • Chris Pronger: 0 -- 2 -- 2
  • Dan Carcillo: 0 -- 1 -- 1
  • Braydon Coburn: 0 -- 1 -- 1
  • Kimmo Timonen: 0 -- 1 -- 1

Winter Classic is Next

Major props to the Broad Street Bikers are in order for making it to the NHL Winter Classic Webpage. We have done several stories here at Phinally Philly on the bikers, including an interview with one of them, Andrew Moriarity.

On the NHL Winter Classic Website you can do all kinds of things including watching Fenway’s continued transformation into an outdoor ice rink as well as live weather updates.

The weather updates may become more and more important as January 1st inches closer. With forecasts calling for either snow or freezing rain on New Year’s day, fingers are crossed all over North America.

No one is sure yet who Laviolette will choose to play between the pipes though. Will he ride Leighton’s hot-hand, though certainly dangerous, or will he go with Boucher? At this point it’s anyone’s guess, but the Flyers may really be healthy for the Winter Classic with the exception of Emery. There is still no word on Parent, but his injuries don’t seem serious. The good news is that Ray Emery is skating again and will be back in a couple weeks.

I don’t think I need to convince everyone to tune in for the game at 1 P.M. on January 1st, hangover or not. Set your alarms and get the aspirin ready.

Olympic Rosters Almost Set

As it stands right now, only five Flyers are headed to Vancouver for the 2010 games. An injury to Gagne kept the long-time Team Canada lock out of the line up. Carter’s slump was his undoing. Both have been named alternates in case of injury though. Richards and Pronger, however, will be members of team Canada with Pronger wearing the ‘A’. Timonen will suit up for Finland, Bartulis for Latvia, and Tollefsen for Norway if he is healthy enough to go.

Mika Pyorala, who seemed to have a very good chance of making the Finnish team with Timonen, will unexpectedly not be headed to the games. Prospect Andreas Nodl would have likely been on Team Austria had they not been edged out of the games at the last minute.

A couple Flyers from the last couple  seasons though will be making the trip. Patrick Thoresen (aka Thor), who is currently tearing apart the KHL, will join Tollefsen on Norway’s team. Lasse Kukkonen and Antero Niittymaki will be reunited with Kimmo Timonen on Team Finland. Peter Forsberg of course will be suiting up for Team Sweden. From defenseman Luca Sbisa will be suiting up for Team Switzerland.

The United States hasn’t announced their roster just yet, but that will come during the Winter Classic on January 1st. Matt Carle has an outside shot at making it on the blueline but don’t expect rookie James vanRiemsdyk to punch his ticket to the Olympics just yet. After starting out hot, his NCAA legs (college teams play a lot less games during a lengthy season) have started to get worn out. That was to be expected with the Flyers’ insane schedule over the last couple of months. A little rest from action during the Olympic Break will do him some good. Rest is something all the Flyers could use, but for right now, the focus is on the Winter Classic in a couple of days.

Prospect Joacim “Sunshine” Eriksson Lighting Up Europe

Joacim Eriksson, drafted by the Flyers in the 7th round of 2008, moved on from the Swedish junior league this year and has done nothing but dominate. (Image Credits: EliteProspects.com)

I’m sure everyone has seen the movie Remember the Titans by now. If you haven’t, go on youtube and find a clip of the quarterback they call “Sunshine.” No lie, Joacim Eriksson looks exactly like him.

That’s not all Eriksson is lighting up though. He has become a ray of hope for the Flyers uneventful goalie prospect group for the last two decades.

At 6’2, 189 lbs. he covers quite a bit of net but has all the athleticism in the world. His butterfly style has done him well, and his quick glove hand is nothing to scoff at. He has his positioning down and great rebound control. Of course, you’d have to watch him play to know all of this.

Before the advent of the KHL (Russian Hockey League), the SEL (Swedish Elite League) was often regarded as the 2nd best hockey league in the world behind the NHL. It has become the third because of the KHL’s massive draw, but even so, the league has stiff competition. Unfortunately for Eriksson he is currently stuck in the minor league of the SEL called the Hockey Allsvenskan thanks to someone often considered the best goalie of their year, Jacob Markström. Eriksson, who played for Brynas IF’s junior team, could not move on to their SEL team since Markström was occupying the starting goaltender position. Instead Eriksson ended up with Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan.

Eriksson though would make the best of it. Markström ended up the starter for Team Sweden in the 2010 World Junior Championships while Anders Nilsson, goaltender for Luleå, got the back-up position. In the SEL this season Markström has a 2.10 GAA and a 0.924 sv% over 27 games. Nilsson has a 2.59 GAA and a 0.900 sv% over 24 games.

Down in the Hockey Allsvenskan, Eriksson, who may have been snubbed for Team Sweden’s WJC roster, leads the league in save percentage with 0.934 and is fourth in the league in goals-against-average with 2.16 (first among starters). Oh, he also leads the league with six shutouts.

Eriksson right now is doing it all even after living in Markström’s shadow for a long time. Next year he hopes to get his shot in the SEL, but for now he’s got his priorities on the season at hand.

A little bit of patience could see Eriksson headed over to the States in a couple years.

Maroon Injury

Flyers’ power-forward prospect, Patrick Maroon, was severely injured tonight in an away game against the Albany River Rats of the AHL. He was carted off in a stretcher and taken to Albany Medical. Though he had regained consciousness on the ice, he is now alert and able to move his extremities. Further updates on Maroon’s condition can be seen through my twitter account: shafer22. For now, the Phantoms will be hoping for his safety and speedy return back to the lineup.

Another angle:

The hit heard ’round the Capital District by Tim McManus

First the good news: as of 10 p.m., Maroon was awake and alert at Albany Med with movement and feelings in all extremities. According to the Phantoms medical staff, his head and neck had been clear but they were still testing his back. Obviously, I’ll update as soon as I hear more.

My game story focused on the teams differing reactions to the hit. The Phantoms reaction can be boiled down to this:  “cheap shot.” Meanwhile, Albany coach Jeff Daniels said he thought Maroon may have been knocked out before Blanchard got there. I thought that was crazy when he said it, but after looking at the second angle, there’s a chance Brett Bellemore (34) may have hurt Maroon with two gloved shots to the head just before Blanchard gets there. However, it still doesn’t excuse Blanchard coming late and from behind. If he didn’t cause the damage, he certainly made it worse when Maroon was in a vulnerable position.

It seems a suspension is likely for Blanchard, a repeat offender. He was suspended earlier in the season for a blind side hit. Gilbert said if the league didn’t take action, it would be “a travesty.”

At live speed, I didn’t initially think Maroon was injured. But especially with hits from behind I think it has to do more with the angle and awkwardness of the impact rather than the ferocity.

One thing I did think immediately was that the whoever  running the sound board at the Times Union Center was making a massive mistake. They began a clip from the movie “A Christmas Story,” but if you were just watching Maroon, all you heard was the audio that began something like, “What, are you going to cry now? Come on, crybaby.” Not the time to be playing wise-cracking music. Terrible taste. It was pulled, but went on for an uncomfortably long time.

Jon Matsumoto was seething about it in the locker room. “I thought it was a little unclassy of them to play ads and music. That was absolute bullsh**. A total lack of class,” he said.

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