Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn: Second Line of the Already Bright Future?

Sean Couturier was acquired by the Flyers this offseason when we traded Jeff Carter to the Columbus Bluejackets(We used a draft pick acquired in the trade).  So far this seems like a very favorable move that will help tremendously in the future.

I'm not a hockey scouting expert, but last year I heard about some of the players that were going to be drafted high at the entry draft.  Sean Couturier was near the top of every list I saw.  The fact that we were able to draft him at #8 still astounds me.

Couturier is already a solid two-way forward at the NHL level.  He has great vision and hockey sense and is a stalwart in the defensive zone.  He is a good passer who makes the players around him better and he has an underrated wrist shot.  He is a big kid (6'4") who reminds me of a more rounded version of Jeff Carter.

Brayden Schenn was acquired in the Mike Richards trade on the same day as the Carter trade during the offseason.  Brayden was a top 5 pick in the NHL Entry Draft in 2009 and is very highly coveted.  He projects to be a possible franchise player, possibly to the level of now-King Mike Richards and Blackhawk Jonathon Toews.  He possesses all the qualities of a leader that you want on your team.  Even though he is only 20 years old, he isn't afraid to get in the dirty areas or make a big hit.  He likes scoring goals and he can do that from anywhere on the ice. 

Like Couturier, Schenn is also listed as a center who can play the wing.  For the future of the team, I think it would be better if Schenn played more right wing so he use his shot from a better vantage point which can lead to more goals in his career.

These two players are the new future of the Philadelphia Flyers.  If everything goes according to plan, these two men can anchor the second line of the team for the next 10-15 years.  Claude Giroux, already a superstar, is the top line center and James vanRiemsdyk will likely play his wing.  All of these players play with an edge that you don't see in everyone.  These guys show that they have toughness and are willing to compete with anyone, confidence goes a long way.  With these four players (none of which are 25 years old yet), the Flyers look to take over the NHL in the next couple of years.

These four players are all very marketable to the public.  All four are good kids who simply enjoy playing the game of hockey.  They make the fans want to pay more attention to the team, which will lead to continuing the proud tradition of Flyers hockey.

Follow the Flyers on twitter @NHLFlyers and myself @PhillySteve15

Bryzgalov Broken Foot: Blessing in Disguise?

On Monday, March 26, the Flyers took on the Tampa Bay Lightning.  During the pre-game warm ups, it appeared that Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers starting goaltender, took a shot that hit an unprotected part of his foot.  It seemed like he was in pain, but it wasn't enough to keep him out of the game. 

During the game, it was clear Bryz wasn't quite at his best as we lost 5-3.  We all panicked when we heard that after the game, Bryzgalov was seen limping badly to the locker room.  Could this be the end of our goalie's impressive streak this month?  Will he be ready for the playoffs?  Can backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky play effectively even though he has been minimally used lately?

There were a lot of questions being asked that night.  The next day, the team announced that Ilya Bryzgalov had an MRI on his foot to see if there was any major damage.  The team was acting confident that the injury, if any was actually sustained, wasn't too serious.  However, the fans wanted the truth.

It was announced that Bryz had suffered a bone fracture in his foot.  This may sound bad, but the bone in question isn't a weight bearing bone.  This means that even though it may hurt a lot, and there may be some limping, it won't keep Bryzgalov out of play too long.

The team claims that Ilya will miss at least one game with the team.  In my opinion, this couldn't have come at a better time.  The Flyers recently secured a playoff spot, a spot that is not likely to change.  Because of that, it wouldn't be the end of the world if the team allowed some players to rest up before the playoffs. 

Bryzgalov has been absolutely dominant since the All-Star break, and because of that, he deserves a break so he can get back some energy.  It's an unfortunate situation, but this injury doesn't really hurt the team too badly.  No one (who is a Flyers fan) wants Bryzgalov to be worn out when the playoffs start.  This gives him an opportunity to rest up and relax and get ready for the important games.  Sergei Bobrovsky will also get some playing time that he hasn't had much of lately will be important if he needs to play a game here or there in the playoffs.

The most important thing is keeping Bryzgalov at his currently dominant run.  He needs some time to rest up before the most important games of the season, and the best part is that the Flyers are basically already penciled in for the fifth spot in the playoffs.  One may think this is a lose-lose situation, but if you delve deeper, it's not so bad.

Personal Playoff Opinion: If the Flyers play the Penguins in the first round, as expected, and they manage to win that series, there's no doubt in my mind the Flyers will make the Stanley Cup Finals. Whether they win that is another story.

Follow the Flyers on twitter @NHLFlyers and you can follow me @PhillySteve15

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Athletes on Twitter

Twitter is a great thing.  It allows anyone to interact with anyone, athletes included.  There are many Philadelphia athletes who tweet regularly and who interact with fans.  Here is a list of some of the more notable athletes on twitter.

@28CGiroux - Claude Giroux
@Hartsy19 - Scott Hartnell
@Simmonds17 - Wayne Simmonds
@RinaldoZac - Zac Rinaldo
@JVReemer21 - James vanRiemsdyk
@BryzGoalie30 - Ilya Bryzgalov
@BernieParent - Bernie Parent
@ShaneVictorino - Shane Victorino
@HunterPence3 - Hunter Pence
@ryanhoward - Ryan Howard
@thekidet - Evan Turner
@minofAI9 - Andre Iguodala
@MikeVick - Mike Vick

It is really cool to see the athletes in a more good natured setting.  It is always interesting to see different athletes from different sports talking to each other.  For example, one day Claude Giroux challenged Shane Victorino to a home run hitting/slap shot contest.

@BernieParent is a former Flyers goalie.  He is the greatest goalie in team history and is one of the teams best players of all time.  He supports a charity my Uncle founded called the Bethesda Project which helps homeless people in Philadelphia.  It is really awesome to see him tweet about what a great cause it is.

Until next time,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bryzgalov Sets Flyers Record

Ilya Bryzgalov, the enigmatic Russian goalkeeper of the Flyers has certainly turned a corner as of late.

Bryz started the year off strong, registering the first Flyers shutout in over a year against the Devils in the second game of the season.  As the season started to get rolling, Bryzgalov started to stutter.  He didn't seem to have a lot of confidence, Captain and star defenseman Chris Pronger was injured and the defense started to fall apart, and Bryz just didn't seem to fit in with the team.  He was even benched for the Winter Classic game, the most anticipated game of the regular season.

Fans wanted Bryz gone.  It was as simple as that.  People felt he would bring the team down, especially considering he signed a nine year contract this past summer.  Bryz seemed annoyed by the media and it didn't look like he had what it takes to be a goaltender in Philadelphia.

Then came the All-Star Break.  With a few days off, the whole team had a chance to rest.  Bryzgalov started to look a lot better in net, he seemed more comfortable.

On February 25th, Bryzgalov did something that he hasn't done much of this year; win in a shootout.  He seemed on point and that was when things started changing for the entire team.  Alternate Captain Danny Briere mentioned in an interview that Ilya has been a better teammate as of late.  He knows it's not just about him and the media, it's about the team and winning games.

Ilya Bryzgalov used to play for the Phoenix Coyotes and knows what it's like to carry a team to the playoffs.  He is used to a humongous big work load and it seems he will get another chance to make a big difference down the stretch into the playoffs.

Just three games after the Flyers defeated Calgary in the shootout, Bryzgalov posted a shutout against the high-powered Washington Capitals, just his third of the year.  This was the official turning point for Bryz.  He went from a "Bryzaster" to being "strictly Bryzness" as he put up 4 shutouts in 5 games.

Just yesterday against the New York Islanders, Ilya Bryzgalov set a new Flyers record for longest streak by a goalie without letting up a goal.  He surpassed John VanBiesbrouck by going 249:43 scoreless minutes.

Congratulations to Ilya Bryzgalov for turning this team around and for etching himself into the Flyers record books.

Follow the Flyers, Bryzgalov and myself on twitter @NHLFlyers @BryzGoalie30 and @PhillySteve15