"Atlanta, Jersey and the Canes
are only a few days away, and the recruits of the 2007-08 Flyers
are salty. They are ready to eat their own guts and ask for seconds." - Full Metal Jacket
OK...so maybe Stanley Kubric doesn't know the first thing about hockey or the Flyers first homestand of the season. But the abovementioned quote, narrated by Matthew Modine as Private Joker, typifies how this team has started off this season and how they look to the week ahead.
The Flyers are ready to eat their own guts and ask for seconds.
They nailed four out of six points to start the season, away from home, against three tough Western Conference opponents - Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. They then returned home to beat a dangerous and hungry Islander team bent on spoiling the Flyers' homecoming at the Bank Building.
has been the "lights out," on-ice catalyst for the offense - recording four goals and three assists in four games. His sidekicks on the KGB line - Simon Gagne
(2g, 4a for 6 pts) and Mike Knuble
(2g,2a for 4 pts) have impressive showings of their own allowing the top line to put up 17 points on 34 shots. Equally impressive has been the play of two of the Flyers' young guns - Jeff Carter
and Mike Richards
. Carter has scored 3 goals - second only to Briere - been a plus 3 and has 6 penalty minutes - tied with Ben Eager and only 9 less than Jesse "I've been waived" Boulerice. Mike Richards had the best game of his pro-hockey career against the Canucks - scoring two goals and two assists, including an amazing backhand pass to set up R.J. Umberger's goal and scoring on a shorthanded, 5-0n-3 situation to end the scoring in Vancouver. Joffrey Lupul
has a goal and three assists, is also plus three and is taking the body in a way that is eye-opening and very encouraging. Kimmo Timonen
is racking up huge minutes, has three assists and complements the shot blocking, knee-scoring, warrior, Jason Smith
in a way that looks like they have been a pairing for many years. Braydon Coburn, Lasse Kukkonen and Randy Jones
have been playing solid and inspired defense and begin to hint at the kind of depth that will serve this team for many years to come - especially when the Phantoms' Ryan Parent is factored in. Marty Biron
has been nothing short of spectacular, making key saves in all four games and singlehandedly preserving the win for the Flyers as he acrobatically held off a late flurry by the visiting Islanders in the third period of Saturday's win.
This team is salty.
It has proven its early metal in Western Canada, survived a body sapping return flight home and defeated a Islanders' team that was embarrassed the prior evening by Toronto 8-1 and was looking to take it's frustrations out on a ragged Flyers team. But the boys in Orange and Black fought and won that battle.
Now we look ahead to Atlanta, New Jersey and Carolina.
Atlanta...what a mess. You almost hate to have games like this because they are a true set up - two days before a Flyers/Devils showdown. The Thrashers are wretched and playing like they are trying to bag the Sarnia Sting's Steven Stamko
s - consensus #1 draft pick in 2008 - before Halloween has even arrived. I hope that the coaching staff treats this game with the seriousness that it deserves on the eve of a showdown with the Devils. A well prepared Flyers team win easily 4-1.
New Jersey Devils. Try if you might...but one picture pops into your head. The masked melon of Flyer killer Martin Brodeur. He has put more steaks in the hearts of Flyer playoff runs than any player in modern NHL history. He is the anti-Christ and must be vanquished if the Flyers are to make some noise and get into the playoffs. Strangely enough, the Devils and Brodeur have been surprisingly human thus far. The Devs have not played all that well and have two wins in five games. Brodeur has been mortal so far: one win, three losses, a GAA of 3.26 and a SV% of .879. Not what I would expect Brodeur to have but then the losses of Gomez and Rafalski might be hurting a little more than one might think. Flyers win a hard-fought 3-2.
The Canes. They are a nightmare
team for the Flyers. They are 4 and 1 with 9 points and have scored 21 goals (second only in the NHL to Ottawa with 22). Cam Ward is back to his Vezina-caliber form at 4-0-1 with a 1.79 GAA and .942 SV%. His four wins are tied with Niklas Backstrom of the Wild and second only to Martin Gerber of the Senators. They are a tough, speedy and hungry team lead by Eric Staal - who has 5 goals and 3 assists and is tied for third in the league in shots with 26. He can bring it and put it home. Flyers lose 4-2 and Cam Ward shines.
If the Flyers can win two-out-of-three for the week and pick up 4 points they will be able to stay at or near the top of the Atlantic. They need to put points away when they can, because you know the Rangers and Pens will be coming hard. Best of luck to the Orange and Black and remember to ask for seconds on those guts
I want to commend the Flyers organ-eye-zation for doing the right thing and putting Jesse Boulerice on waivers. If no one takes him, he hopefully will be sent down and not see the light of day for the rest of the year. I can only hope that the Phantoms drop him all together, but that would be too much to ask.
Thanks for reading...
Go Red Sox!