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One last update on Phinally Philly

Posted by Kieran Kelly On January - 17 - 2011

Just wanted to post one last time to bring this site to a close.

I had a great time working on this after Roman brought me on and it was fun to work with everyone here: Chris, Foley, Dany, Mike, Kevin & all of the guest posters we’ve had.

In the end, we just don’t have the time that we once had to devote to the blog.  Careers & other interests have taken up that time.

Good luck to everyone that has done anything for this site over the past couple of years, especially big Rome Z, without whom this would have never happened.

We’ll still keep the Twitter & Facebook pages around, so keep up with us there.

As I said in the above tweet…

Peace out girl scouts.

-KK

Finally, an update on Phinally…

Posted by Kieran Kelly On November - 18 - 2010

I know it’s been a while for us here at Phinally Philly, but as the above tweet shows, we’ve been on a semi-permanent hiatus for a few months. Everyone involved kind of got busy with other things, be it school related, job related, or just plain busy. I’ve felt bad not giving an update, so I figured today would be a good day.

However, as anyone following our Twitter account could tell, we’ve been quite busy today. I don’t know where the sudden burst of activity is coming from, but I like it.

There may even be a chance of a return to posting here. I don’t want to promise anything, but I’ll try to keep things updated on where the blog stands.

Things are always in discussion between everyone here. (I’m still waiting on a promised State of the Blog Report that’s going on 8 months now…)  As I said, we’ll try and keep everyone updated and we’ll see where the site goes from there.

-KK

March Madness – Beer, Brackets, Blogs, Boosh, and Beyond

Posted by Chris Shafer On March - 19 - 2010

The Flyers may have the March Madness as their goalie situation gets turned on its head, quite literally, once again.

The March Madness might be a sign; a sign of change. It spreads through the American world much like a strong heavy rain washing away all of our winter interpretations of reality while bringing along the excitement of the unknown as we soldier on, as we do every year.

But change happens often. What is so special about March? In fact, what is so “insane” about March 2010?

HOCKEY

Flyers’ Creationism

Well, the last five Marches have been a particular journey for me. As a Flyers fan I’ve seen the entire spectrum of what Flyers hockey can be from a perch in Washington, DC. It might have culminated last Saturday during a weekend trip to the ever exciting District of Columbia. I was in town for Shamrock Fest, the second biggest Irish festival in the United States (second to Boston for obvious reasons). The festival began at 1 P.M. on a rainy afternoon which was the same time the Flyers were matched up against the Chicago Blackhawks.

I probably would have skipped a chunk of the concert had my friend who I was staying with had Center Ice, but I decided text updates would suffice. So I went to the concert with my younger brother, beer in hand, and standing in the pouring rain while listening to some of the best Irish bands the world had to offer. I was annoyed as the alerts came in that the Flyers had fallen behind 2-1.

One of my top three all-time bands, The Tossers, were about to take the stage to my left when I got the text message that the Flyers had tied the game with just over 2 minutes left. The Tossers’ lead singer, T. Duggins, stepped up to the microphone when my phone buzzed again. There, covered in beer, drenched in rain, and smelling like any number of bars, I got word that Chris Pronger had pulled off a miraculous regulation win with roughly two seconds left.

How did I react? Well, my brother and I ran straight into the fray. That’s what happens at these kinds of things. The Flyers had created yet another couple points out of what probably would have been a sure loss. Goaltending or not, the Flyers are finally finding ways to face adversity, something that never happened under Stevens. With Laviolette, the pressure does not effect the team. They rise instead of shelling up and going quietly into the night.

March 2010 is the story of Flyers’ creationism. Turning nothing into something. They turned a rainy afternoon Irish festival into an incredible celebration of the very best things life has to offer; alcohol, music, friends, and sport (not necessarily in that order). They have not played particularly great, though not particularly bad either. Even so, they’re finding ways to win despite two back-up goalies and a quarter tank of gas. Teams that don’t quit are the teams that do well in the playoffs.

At the beginning of March they were a team that didn’t make a move on a more proven goalie. Now they’re a team that can find a way to win despite whoever is in net. That’s a great sign.

Orange and Black Depth Chart Theatrics

Last night, with the 8-10 week injury to Michael Leighton just beginning, the Flyers went back to the other goaltender in their reserve. Boucher hadn’t started a game since getting hurt in a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers back on December 21st, 2009. Last night, he was absolutely incredible as the Flyers came from behind once again to beat the Dallas Stars.

I wrote before about Leighton’s Christmas Miracle, but that seems to have ended abruptly in the worst possible way.

So, for those keeping track at home:

  • Offseason: Sign Boucher. Sign Emery.
  • Early Season: Emery hurt. Boucher in. Claim Leighton.
  • Early Mid-Season: Boucher hurt. Leighton in.
  • Late Mid-Season: Emery returns. Emery in. Leighton back-up.
  • Early Late Season: Emery hurt. Leighton in. Boucher back-up.
  • Now: Leighton hurt. Boucher in.

It’s a miracle that the Flyers are still winning games with all that upheaval between the pipes. However, I’ve mentioned this plenty of times before: goaltending is largely dependent on the team of skaters. If you have an elite team, your goaltending will look much better than it actually is.

Another thing to point out is that technically speaking Boucher is a better all-around goaltender than Leighton. He’s much more positionally sound and more athletic. Leighton may have found some chemistry with the roster, but Boucher never got a real chance to get his starts in once the team had fully pieced together Laviolette’s system.

Anyone else remember 1999-00? 35 GP, 20 W, 1.91 GAA, and 0.918 SV% regular season? 18 GP, 11 W, 2.03 GAA, and 0.918 SV% postseason? Ring any bells?

March 2010 is the story of Brian Boucher and his return a decade later. 2009-10: Unfinished Business?

No Draft Picks? No Problem.

At the beginning of this month I made a “fairly” in depth write-up about the Flyers’ prospect pool as they added two more free agent signings. Well, with a lack of draft picks and prospects, Holmgren is looking for other ways to restock the cupboard.

Luke PitherSigned to a 3-year Entry Level Contract beginning next year. He is a skilled, offensive center who will play with the Phantoms next season.

Shane HarperSigned to a 3-year Entry Level Contract beginning next year. He is a skilled, offensive winger who will play with the Phantoms next season.

Mike Testwuide – Signed to a 2-year Entry Level Contract and could even see time with the Flyers this season. He is a crease bully with some scoring talents.

Ben Holmstrom – Signed to an Amateur Try Out with the Phantoms and could get signed to an Entry Level Contract if he performs well.

Jussi RynnäsYoung, heavily scouted undrafted goaltender out of the Finnish league that Holmgren is pushing hard to acquire.

There’s no question that there’s more to come. Holmgren is rumored to have his hand in quite a few NCAA free-agents. Right now, our prospect group is starting to get a little tight for the Phantoms next season. We’ll see how it goes. It’s definitely going to be an exciting offseason at the minor league level.

THE REST OF THE NON-HOCKEY WORLD

Philly Blog March Madness

Far be it from me to question the seedings of someone else’s bracket, but The Phield is conducting their own version of March Madness. This one involves the best Philly Blogs in the known Philly Sport-verse. You can vote for which Philly Blog advances in each round until there is a winner. Well, your very own Phinally Philly got 7th seed in the Lauber Region. This is how The Phield sees the “Lauber Region” going:

The favorite: Phillies Nation
Created in 2004 by Brian Michael, Phillies Nation has been the major force among red-clad fan blogs. Part of the reason is its networking abilities: The Nation was one of the first blogs to champion Twitter, and also gained an enormous following on Facebook. The Nation’s reach is strong, with fans across the world checking the site regularly. Posts are every day with a mix of news, opinion and character. Its foray into podcasts became a hit, as well. It’s a regular one-stop shop for Phillies news and information, and towers above the other red-clad fan blogs.

The dark horse: The Fightins
We shouldn’t call The Fightins a dark horse, but many have debated its placement as a No. 3 seed, which might light the fire under these boys. Run by a motley cast led by meech.one, The Fightins paces the charge in Phillies humor, posting videos, photoshops, .gifs and lolz on the reg. Its off-centered content has made it a darling among beat writers and even players, who were seen sporting their t-shirts. Look, we know The Fightins is big time, so we might have to ready for a huge matchup in the elite eight.

The cinderella: The Shibe Times
It’ll be hard for any blog to power past Phillies Nation, The Fightins or No. 2 seed High Cheese, but we’ll mark the Shibe Times as a potential upset special. Its design is among the best, and its throwback theme kicks. It has a tough match against Phinally Philly to open, but it’s scrappy style might give enough of a scare to rattle some boards.

The unknown: The Good Phight
A weird case. The Good Phight gets a lot of hits. Commenters galore. Regular content and solid analysis. But where does it rank among the chalk? It’s probably the best 5 seed among the lot, and could even make a case for a 3 seed, but as we stand, it’s mired. We love WholeCamels and dajafi and the rest of the crew, but can they make enough noise to take down Phillies Nation in the Sweet 16? Maybe.

Best first-round matchup: Long Drive vs. Dirty Wudders
A solid 6-11 match, Long Drive is a new but loud force in the sphere, while Dirty Wudders is way under-the-radar, but provides more quality than you think. Long Drive might be cocky here, but be warned: these games are traps.

Best possible second-round matchup: The Fightins vs. Long Drive
And come on, if Long Drive gets past the first round, what a fun game this could be. The boys at Long Drive have ties to The Fightins, yet are completely focused on defeating them. We’ll see. Either way, consider this the marquee second-round matchup.

I think we, the fine folks here at Phinally Philly, have been underrated. We’re not getting our due. Granted, we are a younger blog, but out of most of these 65 (now 64) competitors.

Honestly, I think The 700 Level will run away with it, but what do we qualify as? A Cinderella? Who knows…just get out there and vote for Phinally Philly. Let’s make a run!

Beyond the Blogs

There’s also much more March Madness floating around if Flyers’ drama and blog showdowns aren’t enough:

There’s Real March Madness in the form of a guest post by Joe Gallagher. Don’t forget that everyone’s official Phinally Philly Sheets of Integrity are in full swing. Nova almost lost in OT, and Notre Dame screwed up my bracket beyond repair. Good luck to everyone still in the running for the Grand Prize.

There’s some Eagles Spring Cleaning Notes by Kieran Kelly since our Eagles’ writer, Dany Sloan, is taking part in some conferences down in Austin, TX. Take a look for your up-to-date Eagles’ offseason as we countdown to draft day.

There’s plenty of notes about the Phillies. All you have to do is head to the Phinally Philly Homepage to get a rundown on the shake-ups and preseason performers.

Then there’s more depressing news about the Sixers by Mike Santa Barbara.

There’s also the Union’s season in limbo as the MLS players threaten to lockout. Stay tuned. I have some hockey surprises in store for the upcoming weeks as well.

Don’t forget to go vote for Phinally Philly.

NHL Post-Olympic Mission Statement

Posted by Chris Shafer On March - 2 - 2010

Forward James vanRiemsdyk is not only looking to become an elite hockey player from New Jersey, but he is also an American with hopes for a gold medal some day.

Here I am on a Tuesday morning working on an top prospect article for the Flyers’ top 20 prospects with Mike & Mike in the Morning playing on the TV in the background. For those who have never heard of the show, it’s normally some of the best programming ESPN has to offer even though quality ESPN programming has become hard to find in recent years.

Well, this morning there was a big deal about the NHL. I was in shock. ESPN should not be talking about hockey. That’s not something it never does outside of when a three second clip of some incredible, miraculous goal gets beat out in the top 10 on Sports Center by a couple of mediocre dunks that any NBA player can make in any game.

The talk this morning was about how the NHL is going to capitalize off the incredible atmosphere that the Gold Medal Game against Canada created.

Even though Team USA lost, it was the most watched hockey game in the United States since 1980. It pulled in more viewers than any NBA Finals game since 1998, more viewers than any MLB World Series game since 2004, and every NCAA Final Four Basketball game since 1998. Not including NFL related football, it was the 2nd most watched single sports event this year falling just shy of the BCS National Championship game.

That’s just in the United States.

As far as Canada is concerned…well last Sunday was arguably their most important game in Canadian sports’ history. To say the majority of the country tuned in would be a gross understatement.

Everyone in the world watched last Sunday’s gold medal game, and even though the United States lost, nothing can be taken away from that one incredible game.

So where does the NHL go from there? How does it become more popular from one incredible event?

ESPN wants them to take out the fighting because it’s so much more destructive and violent than any other television program kids will see. Fighting cheapens the game of hockey, but if there is a fight in the stands at an NBA game or a massive player brawl on the field at Miami University, ESPN won’t fail to show non-stop live coverage until everyone has had their say.

Fighting is not the reason nobody watches hockey, and in fact, to say nobody watches hockey is a bit of a severe misinterpretation of reality. Hockey is a culture that you either get or you don’t. There are no tweeners. There are no casual viewers. You either watch your local team or you tune in if something important happens. People won’t just pick up hockey a random hockey game to watch a superstar play like some might pick a football game out of their weekend selection.

Mike and Mike feel that is what needs to change. They feel the NHL needs faces; it needs names. Give me a name, and I’ll draw you a picture with words, you self-proclaimed journalists.

They talk about how there are no “story lines,” but who is at fault there? Story lines are written by the players, but they’re told by story tellers. The journalists are the ones that convey the story. There’s far too little actual journalism at ESPN and far too much sensationalism. Hockey gets lost in the fold.

If you really want to believe that hockey isn’t on ESPN because it’s not marketable, you really need to re-assess reality. ESPN has created Danica Patrick and midnight poker tournaments. What makes hockey so inferior to the garbage ESPN wastes it’s coverage on?

This is Trade Deadline week. It is practically a hockey holiday. Mike and Mike failed to mention that too.

Mike and Mike want to blame hockey for not marketing American stars like the Cherry Hilly native Bobby Ryan, or Zach Parise playing just north in New Jersey, or even the best goalie in the NHL, Ryan Miller. Unfortunately, what they don’t seem to realize is that these players exist just as much as the Brett Favres, the Kobe Bryants, and the Derek Jeters. Hockey players do exist. The stories are waiting to be told, so tell them. Don’t sit idly by making up excuses to look like you have some insight about what is wrong with the hockey world.

There is nothing wrong with hockey that can be fixed by people who know nothing about it. Mike and Mike couldn’t name you half of Team USA, but they know they exist. Find out who they are. If you really care enough to make it a point of emphasis on your show, then do something about it instead of playing the role of the Californian trying to tell the Philadelphian how to cook his cheesesteak.

I hope I do enough. I love sports. I love hockey. The gold medal game, despite the loss, was something spectacular. For Canada, the winners, it was one of those moments you will be able to tell your kid exactly where you were when it happened.

Don’t make excuses for hockey. We’ve proven we can survive without ESPN. It would be nice, however, if there was anything real about the way you talk about hockey. Mike and Mike, you are not journalists, you are not storytellers.

Any publicity is good publicity? I hope that’s true. I truly hope, for the future of hockey, that all the leaps and bounds USA Hockey has gone through as an organization over the past decade, to create a team worthy of skating on the same ice as the Canadians, have not gone to waste for your grand sense of self-righteousness. I hope kids everywhere begin to pick up their hockey sticks from Houston, TX to Duluth, MN and from Los Angeles, CA to Cherry Hill, NJ. I hope they do it just to spite you.

Lost in all of this was Team USA, which is slowly becoming one of the biggest hockey countries in the world. That’s right. USA Hockey has a group of young talent unlike anything it has ever had before. We will have our say. USA Hockey will not be denied whether ESPN will acknowledge its existence or not.

I wanted to beat the Canadians this time just like every other American on the planet, but they worship hockey. They celebrate hockey. As a country, we can never do that if people like you undermine sport; not just hockey, all sport.

Listen to the sounds of Vancouver, of a nation, as they celebrated, and tell me how different it was from New Orleans or even all of America in 1980. Tell me the difference. Tell me a story.

(Sound bite @1:15)

After all, in the end sports is just a story.

Worst ending to the best tournament ever

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 28 - 2010

Screw Sidney Crosby. I don’t care if Canada won.

I wanted gold, everyone wanted gold, but I’ve never been more proud of Team USA. Never.

Remember that feeling when we tied it?

That’s what this is all about. They came to the Olympics to give it their best shot, to leave everything on the ice, and give a nation the chance to believe again.

We lost, but we still still believe.

This is a team of heroes, and Ryan Miller is our MVP.

Canada vs. United States Rematch – Thank the Hockey Gods

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 27 - 2010

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timoen, whose Team Finland was crushed by the United States in the semifinals, will play against Slovakia for a bronze medal.

You’ve seen these dramatics before. Everyone saw five days ago what can happen when the United States and Canada face off. This time it just happens to be for everything; the Gold Medal. Two weeks of hard work smashed in between a grueling NHL schedule has come down to this one game for 46 hopeful NHLers.

In fact, the United States and Canada were the only two teams to draw their talent completely from the NHL ranks. Is it any wonder why they’re here?

They have met before. Everyone knows the result by now. Canada was one shot away from doubling the United States in shots. That’s not including the massive amounts of blocked shots by the likes of Drury, Callahan, Brown, Suter, Rafalski, E. Johnson, J. Johnson…the list goes on.

USA played tough along the boards, got bodies in front of the net, and capitalized off of opportunities while their teams did their best to clog up passing lanes, pressure the puck, and keep Canada’s offense to the outside.

Even with a great defensive effort, it took Ryan Miller standing on his head to get the US a 5-3 victory.

Highlights CAN vs. USA Divisional Game 2010 Winter Olympics

After their loss to the States, Canada came out in the first round of the playoffs (while the US had a bye) and pummeled Germany. Then they slaughtered the powerhouse, Russia. Tonight, they squeaked by a Slovakian team despite handily outplaying them.

With the first win, it seems all the US managed to do was earn a bye and awaken a slumbering giant.

Even so, it’s not like Team USA has been doing nothing since their victory. Though they squeezed by a Swiss team that was giving all the competitors fits, they just crushed a tough Finnish team to earn a trip to the Gold Medal Game by scoring six goals in the first period.

Inter-NHL Rivalries

Anaheim Ducks: Bobby Ryan, Ray Whitney (USA) vs. Scott Neidermayer, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry (CAN)

Carolina Hurricanes: Tim Gleason (USA) vs. Eric Staal (CAN)

Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane (USA) vs. Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook (CAN)

Nashville Predators: Ryan Suter (USA) vs. Shea Weber (CAN)

Pittsburgh Penguins: Brooks Orpik (USA) vs. Sidney Crosby (CAN)

San Jose Sharks: Joe Pavelski (USA) vs. Dan Boyle, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton (CAN)

Vancouver Canuks: Ryan Kesler (USA) vs. Roberto Luongo (CAN)

Team USA:

  • Average Age -- 26.57
  • 12 first round selections
  • Record -- 5-0-0
  • Goal Differential -- +16
  • GFG/GAG -- 4.40/1.20
  • 0 Gold Medal Players
  • 2 Gold Medals (1960, 1980)

Team Canada:

  • Average Age -- 27.48
  • 19 first round selections
  • Record -- 5-1-0
  • Goal Differential -- +18
  • GFG/GAG -- 5.33/2.33
  • 4 Gold Medal Players (Pronger, Iginla, Niedermayer, Brodeur)
  • 7 Gold Medals (1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1948, 1952, 2002)

Team of Destiny?

Canada has organized the best roster they have ever sent to the Olympic games with plenty of All-Stars, Stanley Cup Champions, and 1st Round Selections. Even so, their gold medal in 2002 was the “State of Hockey’s” only winning campaign in over 55 years. Even on home ice in 1988, Canada failed to even medal as the Soviet Union, Finland, and Sweden respectively stood on the podium. Now the games have come back to Canada in 2010. Even the great one, Wayne Gretzky himself, has never medaled at the Olympics. Mario Lemieux did in 2002, but there is enormous weight on the shoulders of a team made up of many players who won five straight World Junior Championship golds since 2005 before the United States upset them to win gold this year.

The United States has it’s own legacy to uphold. They are the only team to ever win a Gold medal in Ice Hockey when hosting the Olympics. They’ve done it twice in their last two hosting years but only managed silver their first time. This, the 30th Anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, has the United States once again competing against the center of the hockey world even though this time it’s for the gold medal. This also happens to be the golden year for USA Hockey in general. Never before has hockey in the United States been more powerful. Despite often being left on the backburner as far as nationally televised games are concerned when compared to other leagues, the NHL has amassed one of the largest regional followings with a mostly “underground” fanbase. Fans sick of ESPN’s monopoly of the “MTV version” of sports-journalism have become hockey fans despite ESPN’s embargo on most things hockey. Hockey revolutions for franchises such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington have only helped add to the state of hockey in the United States.

This year, only a few months ago, Team USA pulled off the greatest upset in World Junior Championships history to win gold against Canada on Canadian soil.

Don’t believe me? Here’s my proof as NJ-native John Carlson silences all of Canada:

So which team is this “Team of Destiny?”

No one will know until the end of the game this Sunday. By the way all of Canada chanted “We want USA!” at the end of the Slovakia semi-final, they must think they are. On USA soil, the opinions are very different.

We know how the first game went. It took a spectacular effort by goaltender Ryan Miller, the best goalie in the NHL, as well as a heart and soul performance filled with blocked shots, second efforts, and hard forechecking, just to upset the best team in the World. It will take that again if not more to beat an awakened Team Canada.

NBC, who holds all the broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games in the United States, made the mistake of putting their first divisional game on MSNBC instead of its main network. Even so, the first USA vs. Canada match-up for these Olympics nearly set a record for the most watched television program in MSNBC history, only 0.1 points behind the Obama Election Night Coverage. It was one of the most watched hockey games in hockey history across the world and didn’t even have the full backing of the nation who played the biggest role in an absolutely legendary game.

But obviously Ice Dancing was NBC’s “sport of choice” that evening…

This time the game is on NBC. It’s for the Gold Medal, something far more allusive to some of the greatest to ever play than the Stanley Cup. Either way, everyone goes home and right back to the NHL. One group will go home winners, and the others will be forgotten. That’s how it is. One game.

The other game, as impressive and legendary as it was, doesn’t matter anymore.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27TH
10:00PM EST – FINLAND (4) vs. SLOVAKIA (7) (MSNBC)
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28TH
03:15PM EST – USA (1) vs. CANADA (6) (NBC)

Ryan Kesler, the Michigan Miracle Man and Empty Net Hero of the 1st game against Canada last Sunday, will suit up with the rest of Team USA on his own Vancouver ice to lead his home country against the country that owns his NHL rights. He assured victory over Canada last summer, and he has accomplished it once. Can he do it again?

USA makes Final Four

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 25 - 2010

Well, my back-up team is officially out of the tournament. Sweden fell in dramatic fashion to Slovakia last night marking the end for the current gold medal holders and possibly the end of Peter Forsberg on your TV sets.

While there are rumors Peter Forsberg might try to make another return, his foot seems to be acting up. He’s still a dominant force, but he’s not operating at full speed anymore. He played well in the Olympics, but as much as it hurts me to say, we might have seen the last of Peter Forsberg playing in North America let alone another Olympic Games.

Regardless, yesterday’s action was incredible. USA pulled out another nail-biter against the Swiss, whose trap scheme seemed to have been giving even the best teams in the tournament the fits.

Canada absolutely killed Russia. It’s not even fair to say that it was that bad because the game was still entertaining to watch. The line of Richards, Toews, and Nash was an unstoppable force of raw energy. They used Richards to shadow Ovechkin’s line quite a bit, which ended up being the biggest factor in the game. While Canada’s San Jose line of Marleau, Heatley, and Thornton showed off another weak defensive performance, they did manage to score some goals. Crosby, much like Ovechkin, was once again invisible.

Regardless, it appears as though the United States, by beating Canada early, has only managed to awaken a slumbering giant. If the teams do meet again in the gold medal game, it’s not going to be easy.

Kimmo Timonen advances with Finland. Slovakia, as I mentioned before, upsets Sweden and Peter Forsberg.

A tribute to the last time I will probably ever watch my favorite player of all time:

Also don’t forget that the Women’s Gold Medal game is this afternoon. I understand some people’s reservations toward women’s ice hockey, but it’s still Team USA. As the men’s tournament takes a break before the medal rounds, Team USA and Team Canada will face off for the gold medal of women’s hockey at 6:00 PM EST on MSNBC. Be sure to at least check it out to support Team USA.

Now, on to the fun.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 26TH
03:00PM EST – USA (1) vs. FINLAND (4) (NBC)
09:30PM EST – CANADA (6) vs. SLOVAKIA (7) (CNBC)
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27TH
10:00PM EST – BRONZE MEDAL TBD (MSNBC)
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28TH
03:15PM EST – GOLD MEDAL TBD (NBC)

Ryan Miller will try to keep his Olympic hot-streak alive in the medal rounds against Kimmo Timonen and Team Finland.

Now the real Olympic tournament begins

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 24 - 2010

Oskars Bartulis and his Latvian teammates came within a shootout of the Czech Republic and the only upset of the Qualification rounds.


And then there were eight:

The United States (1), Sweden (2), Russia (3), Finland (4), the Czech Republic (5), Canada (6), Slovakia (7), and Switzerland (8).
There were no upsets in the qualification round even though both Latvia, with Flyers’ rookie defenseman Oskars Bartulis logging big minutes, and Norway came close to upsetting the Czech Republic and Slovakia respectively.

Now the real tournament begins, and there’s so much to take in.

For starters, one of Russia or Canada will not come away with a medal. Thanks to the United States, these two heavily favored superpowers of the hockey world will meet in the quarterfinals to determine who has the right to compete for a medal. Russia vs. Canada. Screw all of the Crosby hype, but this is truly a battle of the elites. There’s no question about bad blood and rivalries with this one. Based on Canadian fans shouts at the end of today’s dominant performance against Germany, Mike Richards, Chris Pronger, and the best of the best from the North American club of the NHL are ready to take on the big, bad Russians, who have their own arsenal of Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Semin, etc.

If you care about hockey, you watch that game.

Of course there’s USA vs. Switzerland. You don’t want to go in overly confident based on what Switzerland can pull off with that trap. USA has to hit them hard and early right where it hurts: along the end wall and on the scoreboard.
The Czechs against Finland isn’t a toss away game either. Neither is Slovakia vs. Sweden. All incredible matches to earn the right to play for a medal.

The real tournament begins tomorrow. Who of the elite eight will be able to drape gold around their neck and wave their flag proudly as the best in the world for the next four years?

Tune in. It’s bound to be “tremendously tremendous.”

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 24TH
03:00PM EST – USA (1) vs. SWITZERLAND (8) (NBC)
07:00PM EST – RUSSIA (3) vs. CANADA (6) (CNBC)
10:00PM EST – FINLAND (4) vs. CZECH (5) (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – SWEDEN (2) vs. SLOVAKIA (7) (CNBC)
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 26TH
03:00PM EST – SEMIFINAL TBD (NBC)
09:00PM EST – SEMIFINAL TBD (CNBC)
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27TH
10:00PM EST – BRONZE MEDAL TBD (MSNBC)
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28TH
03:15PM EST – GOLD MEDAL TBD (NBC)

Defenseman Brian Rafalski, one of the leading scorers for the Olympics so far, will bring Team USA against Switzerland at 3:00 PM EST on NBC with the hopes of advancing to the medal rounds.

USA draws top Olympic Seed

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 22 - 2010

The United States, thanks to some dramatics against the heavily favored Team Canada, have pulled out the number one seed in the Olympic Tournament. The qualifications for determining the seedings are as follows:

  1. Higher position in division
  2. Higher number of points
  3. Better goal difference
  4. Higher number of total goals scored
  5. 2009 IIHF World Ranking

The United States (3 W for 9 Points) finished won the division over Canada (2 W and 1 OTW for 5 Points), Norway (1 OTW, 1 OTL, and 1 L for 3 Points), and Switzerland (1 OTL and 2 L for 1 Point). The United States won the number one seed and easiest path to the Gold Medal Game because their goal differential (+9) is higher than Sweden (+7) who also finished the tournament with 9 points off of 3 wins.

SEEDING

  1. United States of America – 9 P / +9 (bye)
  2. Sweden – 9 P / +7 (bye)
  3. Russia – 7 P / +7 (bye)
  4. Finland – 6 P / +6 (bye)
  5. Czech Republic – 6 P / +3 (Q vs. 12th)
  6. Canada – 5 P / +7 (Q vs. 11th)
  7. Slovakia – 5 P / +5 (Q vs. 10th)
  8. Switzerland – 3 P / -2 (Q vs. 9th)
  9. Belarus – 3 P / -4 (Q vs. 8th)
  10. Norway – 1 P / -14 (Q vs. 7th)
  11. Germany – 0 P / -9 (Q vs. 6th)
  12. Latvia – 0 P / -15 (Q vs. 5th)

South Jersey native Bobby Ryan, along with Team USA, have captured the number one seed for the Olympic Tournament and a first round bye.

I will also be providing updates on games here at Phinally Philly and through my twitter account.

Full Television Schedule In EST
*Finished games are italicized.

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 16TH
03:00PM EST – USA vs. SWITZERLAND (USA)
07:30PM EST – CANADA vs. NORWAY (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – RUSSIA vs. LATVIA (CNBC)
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 17TH
03:00PM EST – FINLAND vs. BELARUS (MSNBC)
07:30PM EST – SWEDEN vs. GERMANY (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – CZECH vs. SLOVAKIA (CNBC)
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 18TH
03:00PM EST – USA vs. NORWAY (USA)
07:30PM EST – SWITZERLAND vs. CANADA (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – SLOVAKIA vs. RUSSIA (CNBC)
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 19TH
03:00PM EST – BELARUS vs. SWEDEN (MSNBC)
07:30PM EST – CZECH vs. LATVIA (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – FINLAND vs. GERMANY (MSNBC)
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 20TH
03:00PM EST – NORWAY vs. SWITZERLAND (MSNBC)
07:30PM EST – LATVIA vs. SLOVAKIA (MSNBC)
12:00AM EST – GERMANY vs. BELARUS (MSNBC)
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 21ST
03:00PM EST – RUSSIA vs. CZECH (NBC)
07:40PM EST – CANADA vs. USA (MSNBC)
12:00AM EST – SWEDEN vs. FINLAND (MSNBC)

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 23RD
03:00PM EST – CZECH (5) vs. LATVIA (12) – (USA)
07:30PM EST – CANADA (6) vs. GERMANY (11) – (CNBC)
10:00PM EST – SLOVAKIA (7) vs. NORWAY (10) – (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – SWITZERLAND (8) vs. BELARUS (9) – (NBC)
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 24TH
03:00PM EST – USA (1) vs. SWITZERLAND (8) (NBC)
07:00PM EST – RUSSIA (3) vs. CANADA (6) (CNBC)
10:00PM EST – FINLAND (4) vs. CZECH (5) (CNBC)
12:00AM EST – SWEDEN (2) vs. SLOVAKIA (7) (CNBC)
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 26TH
03:00PM EST – SEMIFINAL TBD (NBC)
09:00PM EST – SEMIFINAL TBD (CNBC)
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27TH
10:00PM EST – BRONZE MEDAL TBD (MSNBC)
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28TH
03:15PM EST – GOLD MEDAL TBD (NBC)

At the good ol’ hockey game!

Posted by Chris Shafer On February - 21 - 2010

Goaltender Ryan Miller's Olympic Mask created a lot of buzz before he even took the ice in Vancouver.

Ryan Miller was incredible! Team USA was incredible!

Martin Brodeur was incredible! Team Canada was incredible!

Only one team could survive in a stadium packed to the brim with colors of both countries blanketing the arena while echoes of “GO, CANADA, GO!” were met with, “USA! USA! USA!”

The arena in Vancouver was picture perfect. The sounds were incredible. The game was the stuff of legend.

It was “tremendously tremendous”…to quote the broadcast.

It was incredibly incredible, phenomenally phenomenal, unbelievably unbelievable, miraculously miraculous…you get the idea.

Even so, a magical performance by Team USA on the ice, particularly by goaltender Ryan Miller, is carried out in 60 minutes just a day before the 30th Anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the greatest sports story ever to occur.

Do you believe in miracles?

I wasn’t alive. You probably weren’t either. Regardless, the United States has won the division and the right to a bye in the first round of competition.

Ryan Miller, currently the best goalie in the NHL, sports his Olympic Mask in practice for the Buffalo Sabres just before the Olympics Games. (Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Sarvis)

The star of the game, Ryan Miller, didn’t even get to sport his full mask. His catchphrase “Miller Time” was covered up by order of the IOC. His other tribute, “Matt Man” was threatened as well.

“Matt Man” is a tribute to his late cousin who passed in 2007 due to complications with a bone marrow transplant which was necessary to treat Lukemia.

“I’ll contest,” Miller said. “My aunt and uncle and my family, it’s important to them. It’s important to me.

“I’m going to stand up for that.”

Even back-up goaltender Jonathan Quick was forced to cover up his “Support the Troops” logo.

Miller’s play on the ice so far for Team USA, regardless of the IOC’s reluctance, has been a far better tribute to his late cousin. His team has won three straight, cleaned out the division, and will await their fate in the playoffs having earned a bye in the first round.

There’s plenty of hockey still. Peter Forsberg and Sweden take on their rival Finland complete with Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timonen tonight at midnight on MSNBC. Then, after the seedings are taken care of, the first round can begin. Team USA will be watching and waiting for their next opponent. It’s not over yet. There’s no time to fully celebrate this incredible accomplishment, but the hope for Olympic Gold is sweeping America, now stronger than ever after witnessing one of the best hockey games in Olympic history.

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