Thanks to MrFlyerGuy for this.
Archive for Toronto Maple Leafs
Thanks to, who else? My man, MrFlyerGuy.
…If the Flyers make a deal for J.S. Giguere, it could mark their undoing this season. It’s weird to think about, given how well the tandem of Boucher and Bobrovsky have played this year, but there have been plenty of rumors that the Flyers still covet a goaltender at the trade deadline, and Giggy’s name has frequently come up. The fact that he wants to stay in T-O, though, is great. Please, by all means, keep this over-the-hill netminder North of the border.
Some quick hits on tonight’s game:
– Michael Leighton played the full 65 minutes of game action (regulation and OT) but was yanked from the game once it turned to a shootout. He was talking to Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin midway through the third, but remained on the bench after being pulled before the shootout.
– Leafs outshot the Flyers 36-32.
– The two teams split their back to back preseason games, with each team winning a shootout as the road team.
– Michael Leighton stopped 31 of 34 shots. He played very well.
– Nik Zherdev got on the board Friday for the first time as a Flyer. He scored twice in the victory.
– I was in the minority in thinking that Andreas Nodl played well last night. I know I’m in the majority in thinking he played horrible tonight.
– Matt Carle led all Flyers skaters with 23 minutes, 17 seconds played.
– Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf led Toronto with over 24 minutes of ice time.
– Four Flyers had four shots in the game, a team high. (Testwuide, Giroux, Carle, Briere)
– Only three Flyers players finished in the “minus” category: Oskars Bartulis (-1), David Laliberte (-1), Greg Moore (-1)
– Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel scored for Toronto
– JS Giguere made some huge saves tonight, stopping 29 of 32 shots.
– Giroux and Briere scored for the Flyers in the shootout. Nikolai Kulemin scored for Toronto.
– The Flyers are now 2-0-1 during the 2010 Preseason.
The Flyers, 4-3 shootout winners in their preseason opener at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night, are once again the “home” team tonight, despite the Maple Leafs being a Canadian team and the game being played North of the border. With that being said, the Flyers will also be wearing their “new” road jerseys in place of their home uniforms, threads that many of you will remember they debuted on Tuesday night. If you’re unfamiliar, just Google “Flyers Winter Classic” on images. You’ll know what I’m talking about. Tonight’s contest is the first of a home and home against the ‘Leafs, a team that hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967. And we think ’75 is bad.
The Story: Tonight will be the game that I find more interesting than the opener. Why, you may ask? Well, many media sources close to the Flyers have reported that only six veteran forwards and four veteran defenseman will be skating for the Flyers tonight. I’d assume included in that group would be Scott Hartnell, who didn’t participate in the teams first game. Jeff Carter also likely will play as well, being that a game in London represents a homecoming for him. The other four slots are up in the air, but I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the newer players – Nik Zherdev, Bill Guerin, Jody Shelley – get another game to continue skating and showing the Flyers that they are ready for the upcoming season. Frank Seravalli of The Daily News has already reported that Danny Briere will not skate tonight – he’s being given the night off. Tim McManus, beat writer for the Adirondack Phantoms has reported that some of his boys from Glens Falls will be skating tonight as well: Marc-Andre Bourdon, Joonas Lehtivuori, Logan Stephenson, Mike Testwuide, Ben Holmstrom, Andrew Rowe, Greg Moore, and Virtua Health’s own Jon Kalinski. Newfound fan favorite Sergei Bobrovsky will tend goal in the third period, while Brian Boucher will handle goaltending duties for the first two periods, as the man who orchestrated the Flyers upset of the Devils last Spring will get his first crack at the preseason action.
Who to Watch on the Maple Leafs: Kris Versteeg, Left Wing.
Flyers fans should be very familiar with Mr. Versteeg, a focal point of a Chicago Blackhawks team that last year defeated the Flyers in six games to win the 2010 Stanley Cup. In the off-season, Versteeg’s celebration was short-lived as he became a casualty of the salary cap and was sent packing to his homeland of Canada as he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs. Still, a change of scenery may bring out even more talent in Versteeg. Coming off the past two seasons in which his point total was over 40 (53 in ’08-’09, 44 last season) and his goal totals eclipsed 20 (22 in ’08-’09, 20 last season), Versteeg certainly has a bright future ahead of him. He’ll likely start in this, the Maple Leafs’ second preseason contest of 2010, and he’ll be looking to show that his acquisition was a great one by Leafs GM Brian Burke.
The Skinny: I love these kind of preseason games. So much youth on the Flyers’ end trying desperately to make a name for themselves and anxious to see if its noticed by the coaches. This game should be very physical and intense, as there will be many players trying to show that they belong in the National Hockey League and that they are more than qualified for a minimal amount of spots (if any) on either team. I can’t wait to see Marc-Andre Bourdon in action, same goes for Mike Testwuide. Should be a fun one.
Notes: The Flyers flew in to London today, a rare game-day flight. They were scheduled to land around 3:30, so there isn’t all that much time for them to prepare for tonight’s contest. As I said above, Brian Boucher will start. “Bob” will come in tonight in the third, and, if needed, an extra time much like Tuesday night. The Leafs have an HD feed for the game tonight on their website.
In a game the Flyers absolutely needed to have, the Orange and Black went into Toronto last night and took two points away from a very spoiler-minded team.
It wasn’t “by the book” at times, but there certainly were a few instances last night when the bounces finally went the Flyers’ way, and as a result, the team was able to win the second consecutive game for the first time since, well, I can’t remember. Regardless, the two points were huge for a number of reasons: the Boston Bruins were idle, so the Flyers’ win vaulted them to seventh in the East – for now. Next, the Thrashers lost in regulation to the Devils, and the Rangers lost in regulation to the Sabres, meaning Atlanta’s playoff hopes are gone, and if the Rangers lose in regulation tonight to Toronto, the Flyers clinch a playoff spot. Finally, the Montreal Canadiens lost to the New York Islanders in a shootout, by a score of 4-3. The Canadiens’ shootout loss puts them only one point ahead of the Flyers, with the same amount of games remaining.
The Flyers didn’t waste much time helping their cause last night at the Air Canada Centre, as Danny Briere made a beautiful pass to Claude Giroux who finished off the slam-dunk to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead 10:59 into the first period. From that point on, it was a lot of back and forth hockey, with both teams getting chances each way. The Orange and Black got an incredibly solid goaltending performance from Brian Boucher, as Boosh stopped all 23 shots he faced en route to recording his 100th career NHL victory, and 17th career shutout.
The game didn’t really reach its peak of excitement until the final ten minutes of the third period, when a frantic Toronto rush had the Flyers literally back on their heels and unable to get any momentum whatsoever. Although the ‘Leafs had nothing to play for in the standings, their pride was on the line as Toronto was playing its final home game of the season on Tuesday night. Regardless, the Flyers wouldn’t budge and an outstanding penalty kill in the final three minutes of the game was a huge reason why the Flyers got the two points. Players were sacrificing their bodies to block shots and doing a great job of winning battles for loose pucks. The whole penalty kill was keyed by Ian Laperriere, who was outstanding in blocking shots all night, as he has been all season.
The tension amongst Flyers fans finally settled when Mike Richards capped off a huge victory by scoring an empty net goal in the final minute of play to seal the win for the Flyers and give Boucher back-to-back victories. Now, all the Flyers can do is, quite simply, wait. If the ‘Leafs beat the Rangers tonight in regulation, the Flyers are into the playoffs. If the Bruins lose on Thursday night, the Flyers take over sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers – for once – have done their job heading into the weekend. Now, it’s time for the rest of the NHL to do theirs.
The Flyers received a chance to move up to the East’s seventh seed with a win tonight, as the Boston Bruins only gathered a single point in action last night against the Washington Capitals. To be successful tonight, however, the Flyers will need to duplicate their last two efforts: full, sixty minute hockey games, in which the team is determined as a group to win. The Flyers gave arguably one of their best efforts of the season last Friday night against the Montreal Canadiens but were unable to come up with a single goal despite out-shooting the Habs 36-22. Fortunately for the team, they transcended that effort into a huge victory Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings, a team that hadn’t lost in regulation in twelve straight contests. Despite winning their last contest, the Flyers are a morbid 3-6-1 in their last ten games. The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, have been a hot team of late, beating many teams either in playoff positioning or pushing for the playoffs, as they’ve gone 6-2-2 in their last games. To put that record into perspective: where the Flyers stand right now, if they would’ve gone 6-2-2 in their last ten they would easily be playing for the sixth or maybe even fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, that’s how much everyone around them has struggled.
The Story: The Maple Leafs are a team that poses quite a threat to the Flyers. The ‘Leafs are in the ultimate “spoiler” role, in that they are already eliminated from the playoffs, so they are in a great position to play their youth in basically “in-game tryouts” for next season. With that being said, the youth for the Maple Leafs has looked pretty darn good, and have been a ton of trouble for the other teams in the East to contain. They’ve gone from a cellar dweller, to a team with a very bright future, and as a result the energy has been restored in Air Canada Centre. If the Flyers think they have an easy two points coming their way tonight, then they have another thing coming. The ‘Leafs are playing their best hockey of the season right now, and it’ll be up to the Flyers to bring the intensity they displayed on Friday and Saturday if they want the two points tonight.
Who to Watch on the Maple Leafs: Nikolai Kulemin, Left Wing.
One of the best players amongst Toronto’s youth, Kulemin is a pure-blooded goal scorer. He has an uncanny knack for finding the back of the net, and he’s a player that’s certainly caught my eye the two opportunities I’ve had to see him play live in the past. He has the wheels and the shot, two things that will make you successful in the current NHL. The game has changed so much from a mucking and grinding game to a game of finesse and skill that a player like Kulemin is a guy that has a lot of potential still yet to be realized. This season, his second career NHL season – both of which with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kulemin has 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points. Not great, but not too bad either. He feeds off the energy in the building and you can bet it’ll be high when these two old rivals come together tonight.
The Skinny: Tonight’s contest marks the fourth and final meeting between the Flyers and Maple Leafs this season. The Flyers lead the series 2-1-0, with their lone loss coming at the hands of a 4-0 shutout on January 14 in Toronto. The Flyers most recent victory came on March 7, when Michael Leighton was still the goaltender in Philadelphia, and back-stopped the Flyers to a 3-1 win.
Notes: It will be Brian Boucher for the Flyers in goal tonight against likely Jonas Gustavsson for the Maple Leafs. The “Frat Pack” line is making headlines for the Toronto Maple Leafs late in this season, as the trio of Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg, and Christian Hansen have all been tremendously productive down the stretch. If the Flyers get two points tonight, they move into seventh place with 86 points, and depending on the result of the Montreal game could conceivably move into a tie with the Canadiens for sixth. It’s up to the Flyers to determine if they want to make it easier or harder on themselves and get the wins necessary to make the post-season.
Jim Jackson, Bill Clement, and Steve Coates will have the call on the Comcast Network tonight when the puck drops on the Air Canada Centre ice at 7 PM EST.