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The Hits Just Keep on Coming

Posted by David Foley On March - 1 - 2009

First we had the whole Brian Dawkins thing, and today just added to what has been a tough few days for Philly fans. The Flyers looked listless in a 3-0 loss to the first place Devils this afternoon. Martin Brodeur secured his 100th career shutout, and the Flyers clearly missed Kimmo Timonen (who is still recovering from the flu.)

Danny Briere made his first appearance since his groin injury and was a -1 in nearly 17 minutes of ice time. Chalk it up as a rough afternoon for the orange and black and move on because the Flyers are still very much in the playoff race in the East.

It’s The Most Nerve-Racking Time Of The Year

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 28 - 2009

flyersfans_bennettWelcome to that wonderful time of the year when not only are the Eagles in the middle of free agency, but the Phillies are into Spring Training, the Flyers are days away from the trade deadline, and the 76ers are still…well…the 76ers. The Flyers OT loss last night to the Canadiens didn’t make matters any better or even calm anyone’s nerves going into the deadline. As a matter of fact the terrible display of defense letting in 3 goals in quick succession late in the first period of Friday’s game only displayed a need for a top notch blueliner. More than ever the Flyers need help defensively. That isn’t to say that they need to acquire one in trade, but with Ossi Vaananen being claimed off waivers early Friday morning by Vancouver and Timonen out with the flu you could almost see this coming. Timonen is that all-star defenseman that the Flyers need. Anything added on at the trade deadline is just icing on the cake.

In a similar issue, does anyone realize why star center Danny Briere remained out of the lineup even after the Flyers waived two players in order to bring him back off LTIR? Of course it can’t be admitted by the organization because they might get into trouble with the league, but everyone knows that because of Timonen’s battle with the flu left the team with only 5 starting blueliners Lasse Kukkonen had to be called back up thus negating any cap space the Flyers had just cleared for Briere’s comeback.

Now, back to Kimmo Timonen. For all those who swear on their lives that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are the two team MVPs please take a look at the numbers when Kimmo Timonen is out of the lineup. The powerplay numbers drop. The winning percentage drops. The turnovers go through the roof. I’m not saying that Kimmo Timonen is an important part of the Flyers team; I’m saying that Timonen is the Flyers. Without him they are a mediocre team with a good offense. And everyone seems to forget that both he and Coburn were out for the Pittsburgh series in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Why do you think the Flyers did so poorly?

With the Trade Deadline days away and the Panthers GM visiting Philadelphia for the last two games there is more and more buzz about Bouwmeester coming to Philadelphia. The Flyers don’t “need” him so to speak, but think about the Flyers with another “Timonen” on the blueline; one that’s younger.

That’s why everyone’s nerves are “racked” here in Philadelphia as March 4th edges closer. The Flyers are good, especially with Timonen in the lineup. With Bouwmeester they are VERY good. Here’s hoping for the best. Sunday takes the Flyers to New Jersey to face Brodeur. Tuesday takes us to Boston. Then Wednesday, March 4th comes. All eyes and ears will be on Paul Holmgren as he tries to make this team better. The rest of the season doesn’t get any easier for the Flyers so here’s to our defense and Kimmo Timonen, may he never again get the flu.

Welcome Back Briere; So Long To Others

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 26 - 2009

vaananenThursday morning brought the waiving of fourth line center Glen Metropolit and defenseman Ossi Vaananen. Both had signed short term contracts with Philadelphia for a $1.0m cap hit. Glen has been good playing both ways with Philly though he has not put up the offensive numbers many hoped he would when Briere went out with injury. Ossi Vaananen was incredible for the Flyers but somehow found his way into John Stevens’ doghouse. This brought about a trip to the 7th slot behind Jones and Parent, both of which returning from the LTIR list.

While these two players will undoubtably be missed on the Flyers, this kind of move only means one thing: Welcome Back Danny Briere! Both Metropolit and Vaananen will likely be claimed by other teams soon with the trade deadline looming right around the corner.

More to come? I’m sure there is. Just be happy that Briere is back in the lineup.

Flyers Soaring To Trade Deadline

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 26 - 2009

71799066AM011_NJ_Philadelph

Wednesday, March 4th is this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. Often it is the day when the Flyers end up making minor moves to bolster their playoff odds. This is usually because the Flyers are buyers and not sellers due their regular season success season after season. While many are hoping for the Flyers to acquire a stud defenseman or a consistent netminder it may not be in the cards. While they made plenty of moves after the season that everyone wants to forget, if you look at it that was the trade deadline that built this team. Acquisitions of Coburn, Biron, Upshall, and Parent that year have turned this team into what it has become. The first rounder received from Nashville for Peter Forsberg was traded back to the Predators that offseason for the rights to Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen both of which were re-signed here in Philadelphia.

Then as the Flyers teetered on the edge of the playoff picture going into the 2008 Trade Deadline they made minor moves to secure their team. None of these moves have panned out into long term success for the Flyers, but they were never meant to. Philadelphia had their season of big moves. That doesn’t mean that many fans out there shouldn’t still be drooling at the thought of Jay Bouwmeester coming to anchor the Flyers’ blueline, it just means that whatever Paul Holmgren does it will be with the team’s best interest in mind.

Currently many believe that Danny Briere, who is expected to return as soon as Friday’s game at home against Montreal, is going to be the Flyers’ “big move” this season. It’s entirely possible. While he doesn’t necessarily play a Philly style of hockey no one can argue with his point-per-game results. Adding Briere to a lineup stacked with Gagne, Carter, Richards, Hartnell, Knuble, Lupul, Giroux, and Upshall will only benefit the Flyers despite allegations that he is defensively suspect at times. The good news is that mathematical calculations leave the organization only around $1.5m in the hole against the salary cap upon his return. $1.5m is generally easy to find and is far easier to work with than the previously suspected $2.5m. The bad news is that Briere’s $6.5m salary cap hit seems to be the brick wall preventing the Flyers from making any huge moves at the deadline.

Still, the Panthers’ GM has made comments all year about Jay Bouwmeester’s contract situation. While he claims he is not willing to accept “salary dumps” in any deal involving JayBo he has mentioned often that should the star blueliner not declare his willingness to return to Florida under contract at the end of the season by the trade deadline he will be moved. That’s good news for the Flyers who want to give up roster players as opposed to prospects/picks at the deadline. The Panthers also want NHL ready players that can help them into the postseason now since they now sit in a good position. While JayBo being traded would mean a hit to their playoff chances, a return of players that can keep them in the hunt as the season draws to a close would make the loss of the blueliner bearable.

Should a deal involving Lupul + Carle + mid-high level prospect + mid round draft pick + conditional 1st should JayBo be signed by Philly in the offseason ever happen it would mean that the Flyers not only acquire JayBo’s services, but also have more room to bring Briere back into the lineup. With Giroux’s play Lupul has become expendable and though Carle has played well in Philly Bouwmeester would put the Flyers defense on a whole new level. That of course is best case scenario. While many still claim that the Flyers #1 prospect James van Riemsdyk or even Claude Giroux would have to be going back to Florida to make this deal happen it is very doubtful. If Florida would demand either of the two it’s far more likely that the Flyers find minor pieces to their playoff puzzle somewhere else. Read More: Dispelling Flyers Trade Deadline Rumors.

This intriguing scenario may have been made even more juicy by the appearance of the Panthers GM at the Flyers Kings game on Wednesday night. While nobody knows for sure what he was watching many speculate he was scouting players on the Flyers. With the trade deadline less than a week away every word can get blown out of proportion, but the Panthers GM showing up at a Flyers game right before Briere’s return does send off some red flags that something may be coming.

If it’s not JayBo then don’t be upset. The Flyers are perfectly fine without him. This is the same team that is 4th in the east while battling injury after injury along with what seems to be a neverending flu epidemic (Timonen being it’s latest victim) all while Briere has been sitting on the sideline nursing his groin. The offense with Briere is as deadly as ever and a top nine consisting of 7 proven 20+ goal scorers, a rookie absolutely tearing up NHL competition in Claude Giroux, and full of various gritty defensively sound players is nothing to scoff at come playoff time. Do not think Holmgren has abandoned you should he not swing for the fences. This team has the chance at a dynasty. Van Riemsdyk, the top rated prospect still not in the NHL, is waiting in the wings for his moment to shine. Giving up major pieces when not receiving a sure bet is not something winning teams do. Briere on the other hand is relatively free for Philadelphia. The Flyers have never been in it for rentals. That’s likely a reason they stay in the thick of it year in and year out.

Either way get ready. The Flyers will make a move. They always do. Whatever happens, rejoice. The Flyers are soaring. They are 7-2-0 in the last nine and are getting a star player back into the lineup. The skies right now are cloudless.
  

Trade Deadline Recent History:
2007-2008 Season:

  • To Philadelphia: Jaroslav Modry – To Los Angeles: 3rd Round Pick 2008
  • To Philadelphia: 3rd Round Pick 2009 – To Calgary: Jim Vandermeer
  • To Philadelphia: Patrick Thoresen – To Edmonton: N/A (claimed off Waivers)
  • To Philadelphia: Vaclav Prospal – To Tampa Bay: Alexandre Picard, Conditional Pick 2009

2006-2007 Season:

  • To Philadelphia: Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, 1st Round Pick 2007, 3rd Round Pick 2007 – To Nashville: Peter Forsberg
  • To Philadelphia: N/A (claimed off Waivers) – To Dallas: Nolan Baumgartner
  • To Philadelphia: Braydon Coburn – To Atlanta: Alexei Zhitnik
  • To Philadelphia: Lasse Kukkonen, 3rd Round Pick 2007 – To Chicago: Kyle Calder
  • To Philadelphia: N/A (claimed off Waivers) – To Montreal: Michael Leighton
  • To Philadelphia: N/A (claimed off Waivers) – To Atlanta: Dennis Hamel
  • To Philadelphia: Martin Biron – To Buffalo: 2nd Round Pick 2007

2005-2006 Season:

  • To Philadelphia: Denis Gauthier –  To Phoenix: Josh Gratton, 2nd Round Pick 2006, 2nd Round Pick 2006
  • To Philadelphia: Niko Dimitrakos – To San Jose: 3rd Round Pick 2006

Capitals Crowd No Match For Philadelphia

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 26 - 2009

capitalscrowdNever has it been said that Philadelphia fans have a problem being loud. In fact they are known around North America, whatever the sport, for being not only wherever their various teams manage to land on the continent but for also making their presence known. No bigger display of that commitment to a city’s sports has been made than at the Philadelphia Flyers game at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC against the Capitals on Tuesday night. Undoubtably the sheer power of Flyers fans outside of Philadelphia has been matched at other points over the years, but it is hard to imagine for those locked to the city the joy of those living in other regions when they see hundreds of their kinsmen lining the stadium seats and the arena sections being just as loud as they themselves are.

I personally never understood the power that Philadelphia fans could muster outside of it’s own sports’ facilities. Since I moved to Washington, DC because of school I have made it to many Flyers games, but never in my life have I seen hundreds drown out thousands.

The rivalry between the Flyers and Capitals seems to have reached a boiling point thanks to an OT winner by Joffrey Lupul in the game 7 series of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is absolutely no love loss between the two cities that face off regularly in each of the 4 major sports.

On Tuesday the orange and black jerseys began speckled between the red Capitals shirts, hats, and jerseys. But from the end of the National Anthem you could hear “Let’s Go Flyers!” shouted from every corner of the Verizon Center. The Capitals fans of course responded with a roar of “Flyers Suck!” after each offering from the Philadelphia faithful. Trash talk between those painted orange and those in fake, shiny, red hair sounded a lot like every event taking place at the Wachovia Center. This time though instead of the rarely found opposing fan managing to score tickets to a game amongst the Flyers’ sold out Philadelphia crowds the Capitals fans were in greater number. They were bumping into Flyers fans on the escalators and making fun of them in the hallways. “Fourth Place Flyers” became a nifty little chant to which each one of the hundreds of Philadelphians would respond “STANLEY CUPS!”

This of course was while the Flyers were losing. From the moment Claude Giroux scored the first Philadelphia goal the Flyers and their fans never looked back. Russian flags were greeted with “USA! USA!” chants from the Flyers fans.

In between the second and third a beer run ended in the only real altercation of the night. A Flyers fan was run into by a Capitals fan and beer spilled everywhere. The Philadelphian brushed off the liquid and socked the Capitals fan in the face a lot like a well positioned Riley Cote jab (click for youtube).

Much like Andre Roy the Capitals fan buckled as the Flyers fan bolted. I wish now that I could’ve shaken his hand. No words were spoken, but everyone knew that Philadelphia had earned it’s own little niche in the Verizon Center. The Flyers were taking over.

Three consecutive goals cemented a Flyers’ victory. As the Capitals crowd grew fainter with it’s “Flyers Suck!” chants the “Let’s Go Flyers” chants from those clad in orange and black drowned out the stadium until throughout the arena all you could see was the orange standing out amongst a sea of red. The Capitals fans slowly began to leave turning their stadium into what it had been for the last decade or so when their team couldn’t buy a trip to the playoffs. The Philadelphians were in control and letting everyone know.

On the way out chants of “Let’s Go Flyers!” were met by the hurried footsteps of every Capitals fan rushing away as fast as possible. Outside “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!” rang out into the Washington streets. It felt like we owned the city, and in many ways we did.

The presence of Philadelphia fans outside of the city is something taken for granted by anyone who has never witnessed a sporting event in another arena. I know because once upon a time I was one of those that had never seen an away game. I never knew that we could be so powerful with our backs against the wall miles from home. This is just a reminder of why the fans of the city of Philadelphia, who sell out all their sports regularly, win or lose, and even force sell out games away from home, are the best in the entire world. We already knew that though. Why? Because we are the ones that make us the best no matter where in the world we are.

Still Wanna Trade for a Goalie?

Posted by David Foley On February - 25 - 2009

Antero Niittymaki set the bar high last night stopping 33 of 35 shots in a 4-2 Flyer win. Tonight Marty Biron answered with a 34 save shutout in a 2-0 win over the Kings (Biron’s 25th career shutout.) Obviously you don’t want to have to rely on your goalie that much against a Western Conference team that likely will miss the playoffs, but give Biron all the credit for a stellar performance.

This game was really a pretty typical performance for the Flyers: they were outshot (34-20), took a lot of penalties (5, to be exact) and somehow still pulled out a win. The penalty kill was perfect and everytime they did allow a scoring chance Marty was there. Claude Giroux also deserves a lot of credit for an impressive game on both ends of the ice. He may not have registered a point, but his presence on the ice is becoming more and more noticeable as he starts getting comfortable playing at this level, and I see him having a big impact on this team’s chances of doing some damage in the playoffs.

The Flyers have now won two in a row without their best defensman (Kimmo missed another game with “flu-like symptoms) and seven of their last nine. It goes without saying that if Biron and Niittymaki keep this up the orange and black will be in very good shape heading into the last weeks of the regular season.

Next on the schedule is Montreal this Friday at the Wach.

Tough Breaks All Around…

Posted by David Foley On February - 24 - 2009

Flyers/Caps Square Off Tonight – Timonen Might Not Play

In what may be a developing rivalry between two Eastern Conference powers, the Flyers will head to D.C. to take on the Alexander Ovechkins tonight. Alex has 10 goals in his last 10 games so shutting him down will be the Flyers main task, but it will be made quite a bit tougher given that Kimmo Timonen may miss the game with the flu.

For those of you keeping tabs on the goaltending situation: Antero Niittymaki gets the call between the pipes for the Flyers tonight while Biron will get the nod tomorrow against the Kings.

Sixers Blow ANOTHER Late Lead

For the sixth time this season the Sixers lost a game where they led heading into the final 10 seconds. This time their poor free throw shooting kept the Nets in it, and Devin Harris finished it off with a miracle half-court heave.

There are questions over whether Harris got rid of the ball in time, whether the clock started on time, and whether or not he traveled, but at the end of the day the Sixers really only have themselves and lady luck to blame. They have yet to win a game since the All-Star break (0-4).

Happy Monday Everyone!

Posted by David Foley On February - 23 - 2009

Some of the latest and greatest from the world of sports…

Sixers Look for First Win Since the All-Star Break

Losers of three in a row since returning from the break, the Sixers will look to turn it around tonight against the Nets. One guy who really needs to step up is Andre Iguodala, who is shooting just 32.5% from the field during the losing streak.

McNabb Holds off on Extension Talk

According to ESPN, Donovan McNabb met with his agent, Andy Reid, and Joe Banner last week to clear the air on his Week 12 benching and work on a potential extension. Details of the meeting are confidential, but the part of the story that interested me the most was this…

Although McNabb wants to remain in Philadelphia, if the Eagles aren’t successful in significantly upgrading an offense that needs help at wide receiver, running back and offensive tackle…not only may McNabb drop his request for a new contract he may consider going as far as to ask the Eagles to trade him.

I can’t imagine it would actually come down to that, but I’m glad to see Donovan is forcing the Eagles front office to make a bold move to improve the team. The Eagles wasted enough years of Donovan’s career surrounding him with absolute crap (Thrash, Pinkston, need I say more?)

Marvin Harrison Wants Out of Indy

One possible guy the Eagles could bring in to make Donovan happy just requested his release from the Colts. Marvin Harrison and Indianapolis had been trying to restructure his contract, but when that process failed Harrison requested to be released. The big questions before bringing in the veteran: will his legal problems be a factor, and at 36 can he still be a top 2 receiver?

Keep in mind though that Harrison was a teammate of McNabb’s at Syracuse, and he is a Philadelphia native. If the price is right this might be something the Eagles’ brass needs to consider.

Renney Fired

The coaching carousel in the Atlantic Division continues: first Michael Therrien was dumped by Pittsburgh, and now the New York Rangers have fired head coach Tom Renney. The move really doesn’t come as too much of a surprise given that the Rangers have dropped from first in the division to being on the brink of missing the playoffs.

ESPN is reporting that the Rangers might have already found a replacement. They are supposedly working on a multi-year deal with former Lightning coach John Tortorella.

Brodeur Ready to Return

The first place Devils might be getting a big boost shortly as Martin Brodeur has announced he is ready to return from a November elbow surgery.

Coach Brent Sutter refused to pick a date for Brodeur’s return, saying he wants to see how the 36-year-old does at practice the next two days.

The Flyers play the Devils next Sunday and there might be a good chance Brodeur is back by then.

Looking for Answers Between the Pipes

Posted by David Foley On February - 22 - 2009

By now most Flyer fans are familiar with Martin Biron’s choke job yesterday against the Penguins. It’s been a trying season for the 31-year-old with plenty of ups (stopping 73 of 76 shots in wins over the Islanders and Rangers last weekend) and downs.

The real question the Flyers front office needs to be asking themselves right now is: “Can Martin Biron backstop this team to a Stanley Cup?” Sure he played admirably in the playoffs last season, but his regular season numbers this year are dramatically worse than last year…

Martin Biron 2007-2008 Regular Season (62 games)

30-20-9, 2.59 GAA, .918 Save %

2008-2009 Regular Season (36 games)

18-12-5, 2.94 GAA, .907 Save %

The dip in Biron’s stats is noticeable, but even more worry-some for Flyer fans has to be Biron’s performance against division rivals and other Eastern Conference playoff-bound teams:

Biron vs. (08-09)

Devils: 2-0-1, 2.57, .909

Rangers: 1-1, 4.73, .882

Penguins: 1-2-1, 3.95, .855

Bruins: 0-1, 4.57, .875

Washington: 0-0-1, 0.92, .971

Montreal: 1-1-0, 2.51, .902

Florida: 0-1-0, 3.09, .889

Aside from a good game against the Caps and a few solid performances against the Devils, Biron has been awful when it matters the most this season. Are you willing to take a chance that he recaptures his ’08 playoff form?

If Biron isn’t the answer, then who is? First let’s take a look at some potential trade targets from around the NHL…

Kari Lehtonen (Atlanta Thrashers)

There have been some rumors that the 25-year-old former #2 overall pick is available for the right price. For the Flyers that might mean giving up top prospect James Van Riemsdyk. Lehtonen has never really put it together in Atlanta but he is nowhere near reaching his prime. The crappiness of his team also needs to be taken into account when looking at his subpar Biron-esque numbers this season (11-18-3, 3.15, .908).

Nikolai Khabibulin (Chicago Blackhawks)

He may be 36, but Khabibulin can still play (17-5-5, 2.37, .924). Flyer fans should know firsthand what the man is capable of when he gets hot, as evidenced in the 2004 playoffs when he near single-handedly took down Philly in the Conference Finals en route to a Tampa Stanley Cup. But there is a main problem with any prospective deal…Khabibulin has a huge salary that the Hawks are just looking to dump at this point. With the Flyers so close to the cap this probably won’t end up happening.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere/ Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks)

Why are both Giguere (15-15-4, 3.12, .902) AND Hiller (14-12-1, 2.27, .922) listed? Because the Ducks feasibly could trade either one. The Flyers had two scouts at the recent Ducks-Kings game and it’s realistic to assume they were taking a long look at Hiller. Giguere has been struggling this season since the passing of his father, but has shown signs of turning it around recently and his resume (former Conn Smythe trophy winner and Stanley Cup Champion) speaks for itself.

As for Hiller, he is younger than Giguere (He’s 27, Jiggy is 31) and has clearly outplayed JS up to this point. He’d also be cheaper, but is entirely unproven in the playoffs.

There are certainly some appealing names on this list, but again the Flyers are so close to the salary cap that any major move would be pretty unlikely at this point. Then who should be the #1 guy heading into the playoffs for the Flyers?

Antero Niittymaki, when healthy, has been stellar for the orange and black this season (13-5-4) and he has shown the ability to carry the team on his back. His goals against average (2.59) and save percentage (.916, 14th in the NHL and above the likes of Luongo, Lundquist, Nabokov, and Kiprosoff – granted Niitty has played far fewer games) are both way better than Biron’s.

Even more importantly naming Niittymaki the number one goalie will have a couple possible positive outcomes: either it pushes Biron to elevate his game and reclaim the top role or Niity steps up and becomes the unquestioned #1 this team has missed for so long. Also, considering there will be some viable options in goal in free agency this upcoming offseason (Tim Thomas, Manny Fernandez, and Niklas Backstrom just to name a few) you might as well find out if Niittymaki can be the starter before you start looking to spend money elsewhere.

Need more proof? Remember Biron’s iffy numbers against the East elite? Take a look at how Niitty has performed against the same teams this season:

Niittymaki vs. (08-09)

Devils: 0-0-1, 1.86, .923

Rangers: 0-0-0 (43 mins), 0.00, 1.000 (13 shots, 13 saves)

Penguins: 0-0-1, 2.78, .893

Bruins: 1-0-0, 0.00, 1.000 (22 shots, 22 saves)

Washington: 1-0-0, 1.00, .971

Montreal: 0-1-0, 5.05, .839

Florida: 1-0-0, 1.85, .941

Granted Niittymaki has played fewer games than Biron which gives us less to look at statistically, his performance this season should at least earn him the chance to be the top guy. Nittymaki is the kind of goalie who if he gets hot, would be more than capable of stealing games for the Flyers which can be huge in the playoffs.

How do I know this? Just look at how Niittymaki played in the 2006 Winter Olympics, playing against some of the best hockey players the world has to offer: a 1.34 GAA, a .951 save percentage, a Tournament MVP award, and a silver medal. Some of the goalies Antero outperformed in the tournament: Evgeny Nabokov and Martin Brodeur.

The fans may be pushing for the Flyers to make a big deadline deal, but the answer to Philly’s goaltending woes may already be right there at the end of the bench.

Identifying the Flyers REAL Problem

Posted by David Foley On February - 21 - 2009

Flyers Penguins Hockey

After today’s 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh there are going to be a lot of fingers all around Philadelphia pointing squarely at the man to our left, Martin Biron. Is Marty a true #1 goalie? Probably not, but what if I told you he was not the one to blame for the Flyers’ inconsistency this season?

I’m not going to lie, this post started out as a grand de-construction of Martin Biron and why he is not the guy to get the job done, but as I started looking at the stats I came to a completely different conclusion. Neither Biron nor Antero Niittymaki will make a difference if the Flyers do not first address their Achilles Heel…

…which I will reveal to you in just a few paragraphs (don’t cheat by skipping further down either!)

First let’s address some of the common scapegoats for the Flyers’ inconsistency. Are the goalies truly the ones at fault, or is it the defense in front of them? The Flyers are 24th in the NHL in shots allowed per game. The teams ranked below them? Phoenix, Edmonton, Tampa, Atlanta, New York (Isles), and Florida. Not exactly elite company, eh?

When goaltending isn’t a strength, giving up 30+ shots a game is generally not a good idea…or so you’d think. Yet since December when the Flyers have held an opponent to under 30 shots they are just 5-5. In games (again, since December) where the Flyers outshot their opponent they are 4-6, and when shot totals are even they are 0-4. Here’s the real telling stat though; when the Flyers have been outshot over the past three months they are 15-4.

15-4?!? That seems to defy logic! UNTIL you look at the number of penalties the Flyers take. As a matter of fact the Flyers lead the NHL in penalty minutes with 1,027 (for a whopping 18.4 PIM/G). Now we start to see why the shot totals are so skewed: the other team is getting more shots off with the man advantage (a reasonable assumption to make.) When you couple that with the fact that the Flyers have had the fewest number of powerplays in the league this season it is easier to understand why they might be getting outshot so often.

I know I’m throwing a lot of numbers your way but stick with me here!

Given what we just discussed and considering the Flyers seem to have more success when being outshot, would it then be such a high priority to bring in a defenseman via trade leading up to the March 4th deadline? Unless you get a reasonable deal on a game-changer like Bouwmeester, probably not. Assuming everyone stays healthy the Flyers should have plenty of defensive talent to make a run at the Cup. What about those goaltenders? Sure Biron has been up and down, and Niittymaki has had trouble staying healthy, but statistically they are better than many of the potential trade targets the Flyers could be looking at.

The real problem with the Philadelphia Flyers is a complete lack of discipline.

I understand playing a physical game is important to John Stevens and company, but staying out of the box needs to be a higher priority. Taking fewer penalties will also inevitably lead to more powerplay chances for the team as well and take a lot of the pressure off the goalies. I know this isn’t exactly Earth-shattering news for the fans who have been keeping close tabs on the team this season, but why put so much blame on the guys between the pipes when they aren’t the ones sitting in the penalty box?!?

Making a big trade at this point just isn’t realistic if you look at things from GM Paul Holmgren’s perspective. The team is right at the salary cap limit, and is already going to have to make a move just to fit Danny Briere’s bloated salary back on the books. The Flyers really shouldn’t have to make a big move though because the talent is here to make a run at Lord Stanley, they just have to find a way to stay out of the sin bin first.

**Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the goaltending situation specifically, and reveal the one guy who could take the Flyers to the promised land!**

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