The first ten days of hockey have wrapped up and I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve seen from the Philadelphia Flyers. As of Saturday the Flyers are 3-0-1. Seven points out of eight is a good start for a team that is just gelling together.
The Flyers faced the Western Conference champions, the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday and played a pretty solid game. The only problem was is they took way too many penalties and let the NHL’s best Power Play unit score 2 goals on them. The Flyers never lost their momentum. Every time the Canucks scored, the Flyers answered back with a goal in under two min of each goal. I was impressed with the poise of the younger players including Sean Couturier who doesn’t remind you of an 18 year old rookie. His positioning is of a veteran and his hockey sense is what many rookies take years to develop at the NHL level. Flyers beat writer Bill Meltzer wrote “Sean Couturier is very good at controlling the puck in tight quarters. Not only does he not panic under pressure, he also has tremendous hockey sense.”
It seems certain that Couturier is here to stay, given that the Flyers dealt AHLer and falling prospect Stefan Legein along with a 2012 sixth round pick to the Los Angeles King for future considerations. The Flyers have now dropped to 49 contracts and after Couturier’s tenth game it will go back to 50. Couturier recorded his first NHL point on Wednesday and will get his first goal soon. It’s just a matter of time.
The Flyers played a tough game against the LA Kings on Saturday night and the game quickly got off to a physical start. In the first 20 sec, Kings Defenseman Drew Doughty tried to skate his way in through the entire Flyers’ line and got caught with his head down. Flyer Forward Zac Rinaldo drilled Doughty with a clean hit. Quickly after Dustin Penner came quickly to Doughty’s aid and dropped the glove with Rinaldo in which other analysts and writers say it was a draw but I believe Rinaldo won the fight. He dropped arguably their best defenseman in the opening seconds then took on a heavyweight at 224lbs. Rinaldo is 169lbs. Rinaldo got a few good shots in before wrestling him to the ice and getting another punch to the head before the linesman could separate them. For a guy like Rinaldo to do all of that, he won the fight and that quickly gave the Flyers momentum. Although I hate seeing players get hurt, this was all Doughty’s fault. He should NEVER attempt to get too fancy through an entire team along with his head down. Kudos to Rinaldo for seeing that and making a great hockey play. Sometimes players walk away from it, sometimes other get hurt. Doughty got hurt and that’s just hockey.
The rest of the game was hard to watch only because the refs decided to use their whistles a little too much. By the time the 2nd period ended, there were 16 penalty calls. The Flyers took 10 penalties and four of them were stick infractions. Although I didn’t agree with Claude Giroux’s penalty, if you were to look closely, Giroux tied up the LA forward and he (LA Forward) slapped his stick on the ice and the stick broke. The ref’s simply saw the stick break and implied that Giroux was guilty of slashing. That’s going to happen and it’s unfortunate but the Flyers did have 3 that were deserved and have to become better disciplined in that aspect.
That being said, there wasn’t a flow to the game. Each team couldn’t get any rhythm going and had very little five on five play. When each team is sending their PK unit out one min, their PP unit the next and when it’s time for five on five, you’re normal lines are messed up and it’s hard to establish your game play.
“When that many penalties happen throughout the course of the game, it really takes the flow out of the bench and lines and it seems like one group gets exhausted and then the other group gets exhausted,” said Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette. “Whether you are killing penalties, going on the power play, timeouts, all that stuff, there was no real flow to the game … no way to get any consistency going.” added in Captain Chris Pronger.
I’m not going to mention much about the return of Mike Richards because I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about it. I will mention his hit on Jakub Voracek. I thought it was a direct shot to the head. The kind of hit the NHL is trying to take out of the game. It reminded me of the hit Richards put on David Booth a few seasons ago, but then those hits weren’t called by the NHL. When the NHL decided to crack down on hits to the head, they used the video on the Richards-Booth hit as an example of what they want to see eliminated. So when Richards hit Voracek, he skated away and Voracek got up, unharmed. This is why I don’t think there was a call. Had Voracek been injured, I think the refs would have called something.
This is what’s wrong with the NHL. They’re only going to call penalties during the game on deliberate hits when the player is down, but if the same hit is going to apply to another player and he walks away, there is no call. The NHL needs to establish that all hit’s to the head are going to be called and each player should be subjected to disciplinary action. (Fines or suspensions) The injury should not dictate the call or the outcome of disciplinary action. For example, when they do call a boarding penalty and the player isn’t hurt, I’ve seen a game misconduct and a 2 game suspension. Then I’ll see the same exact play and the player is seriously hurt and he’ll get a 5-10 game suspension.
The NHL has the best opportunity to set the right tone. They have a new Dean of Discipline and it’s the start to a brand new season. They can right this ship and make sure they’re going to make the right calls. It will also help the players because they can know exactly what time of hits are illegal by the NHL and attempt to remove them from their game. Mike Richards has done it before and put Booth out of action for months. He’s did it again Saturday and luckily Voracek wasn’t hurt. And finally he will do it again. Hopefully no one will get hurt and he’ll get called for it.
Now I’m not hating on Richards because he’s not on my favorite team anymore, but when he was a Flyer I’ve come to know some things about him. His hit on David Booth in my opinion was a deliberate shot to the head with the intent to injure. Sometimes, your head gets way too far into the game and when you take someone out with a hit, it’s a rush. Richards loves to hit people. He’s a competitor and its part of his game. It was something I thought was a part of his downside when he was with the Flyers and now that he’s with the Kings, it’s the same old Richards, just a different jersey.
ASK BILL CLEMENT
This question is a part I question that I asked Mr. Clement at the Winter Classic Announcement/Flyers BBQ. He didn’t have an answer and told me he’d look it up. I hope to meet up with him Wednesday and hopefully he remembered to find the answer.
Question: When a player is called for a 5 min major penalty and the opposing team is now on a 5 min Power Play and the team scores 3, 4 or even 5 goals, does the stat of PP % say “1 for 1 on the PP” for every goal or is it “3 for 3” “4 for4” and so forth since there is only one penalty called? Does the stat change and say the 2nds goal counts as two PPs?
Answer: “That is a great question and I don’t have an answer. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than two goals scored on a 5 min major. Why did you have to ask such a hard question?”
Mr. Clement told me he would have to look it up and get back to me. So hopefully I’ll have the full answer for you on the next blog.
NHL Trivia: Which NHL team won four consecutive Stanley Cup titles from 1979-90 through 1982-83?
Feel free to post answers.