In their first game back after a two week break, the Flyers crushed Tampa Bay 7-2. The game was tied at 2 after two periods, but the floodgates opened in the third. Richie celebrated his gold medal by opening the scoring in the first period, before Stamkos tied the game four minutes later. Stamkos gave TB the lead for two minutes until Carcillo tied it up. In the third, Giroux had a pair, and Gagne, Carter, and JVR added a goal each. There are a few issues off the ice to discuss, so I’m not going to recap the goals. You can check out the highlights NHL.com. Richards look good all night, adding three assist to his goal. Giroux and Gagne also looked good, Gags especially. In an interview he recently mentioned confidence issues, so hopefully his play tonight helps him in the long run. The team had a ton of skating drills during the break, and after a stale first period, it showed. There were a few defensive lapses that lead to many odd-man rushes, but I think that’s little rust showing from the break, and it probably will not be a normal occurrence.
Ray Emery – I loved the signing, and I was happy with how he played. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been, and already has a Stanley Cup appearance on his resume. Unfortunately, he’s got hip and groin injuries that have plagued him all season. Emery has been ruled out for the rest of the season, leaving Michael Leighton as the starter, and Brian Boucher as the backup. Coach Laviolette and GM Holmgren say they are content with this duo, but I disagree 100%. I think the team defense, prior to the break, is a bit underrated. The 6 individuals on D haven’t been exactly up to par, but the entire group combined has been pretty good. That explains Leighton’s good numbers more than his play does. I still don’t trust him, and I really hope he doesn’t become complacent now that Emery is out of the picture.
Trade deadline – Wednesday, March 03, 2010 at 3:00PM is when all trades are due. I haven’t heard any rumors regarding major moves for the Flyers. Their horrible salary cap management leaves them with very few options. They’ve improved over the last few months and have climbed the standings, and beaten some very good teams. However, I don’t think anyone looks at this team as a favorite to win the Cup.Maybe an outside chance, but they definitely need some help. Most likely we’ll see a depth move or a move to create cap space for an emergency. However, when Homer took over a few years ago he pulled a few surprise moves that have mostly been awesome (Coburn, Upshall, Timonen) and resulted in a Conference Final Berth. Who knows if he has any tricks up his sleeve for this season. I sure hope so.
Olympics – Congrats to Canada, they really were the best team. I hate Crosby, and I hate the goal he scored to win it all. Miller had been incredible for the entire tournament, and I think the winner was a bit soft. He look unprepared for the shot, and it’s not the way I wanted it to end. Speaking of Miller, he did EXACTLY what was necessary for the USA. The team overachieved because they had confidence in their goalie, and were able to take risks on offense (not to mention a ridiculous collapse by Finland). If any other goalie is in net aside from Miller, the US loses the first game to Canada, the seedings are different, and we probably get a dream Russia-Canada final. As far as tv ratings go, the US-Canada matchup was the better result. The NHL needs to capitalize quickly on the great numbers (2nd most watch program since 1980 US-Finland gold medal game) to draw a ton more fans. I don’t know how to do it, but I’m sure someone in marketing can figure it out. Back to Miller: When I look at Buffalo I see a team with the same make-up as the US team. A bunch of talented guys, no superstars, and tons of speed. They win because Miller is out of his mind this season. Come playoff time, they will be very hard to beat. All the big dogs might have already peaked, and Miller can help the Sabers get farther than most of us expect.
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