THE GREATEST SHOW ON ICE IS BACK!! NHL EARLY PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS…

Jonathan-Quick

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SO HERE WE ARE…The Beginning of the 2013 NHL Season.  Of course…last year was very painful for many fans and players alike due to the work stoppage.  Many experts believed that the entire season would be canceled, but thankfully the NHL Players Association and League Office came to an agreement.  When all was said and done…the Fans still came back.  This was much different from the 2004 stoppage.  The 2004 lockout really disheartened fans around the league and many season ticket holders dropped their plans.  It really took a good six years for the NHL to reach a high level again.  In my opinion…the difference now and what separates that year from this past season is the rise in popularity of the NHL with the youth.  Just speaking from a Fan standpoint…many people are not aware of the excitement that Hockey creates.  There is nothing like going to a hockey game, especially when the playoffs begin.  Of course, we are coming off a year when the Chicago Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup in 3 Years.  Last year’s playoffs were amazing…there was so much grit and tenacity.  The speed was at an all-time high.  So as we move forward, the 2013 Officially begins tonight.  So which teams will be successful this season and which teams will be disappointing.

ftimg The season kicks off tonight with Three Rivalry Games.  The schedule pits the Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals vs the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Winnipeg Jets vs The Edmonton Oilers.

Every year at this time, analysts, fans, and players give their early predictions which sometimes are way off and sometimes they are dead on.  What is fun about blogging/trolling is that everyone is entitled to their opinions and thoughts.  So with that, here are my early predictions:

ATLANTIC DIVISION CHAMPION- DETROIT RED WINGSred-wings-logo

METROPOLITAN DIVISION CHAMPION-PITTSBURGH PENGUINS1011_Pens-Logo-1280x1024

CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPION- CHICAGO BLACK HAWKSBlackhawksdotcom

PACIFIC DIVISION CHAMPION- LOS ANGELES KINGSkings

EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS1011_Pens-Logo-1280x1024

WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION- LOS ANGELES KINGSkings

STANLEY CUP CHAMPION- LOS ANGELES KINGSkings

CONNE SMYTHE TROPHY- JONATHAN QUICKJonathan-Quick

CALDER TROPHY- SETH JONES, NASHVILLE2013 NHL Draft

NORRIS TROPHY- RYAN SUTER, MINESSOTAryan-suter

HART TROPHY WINNER- CLAUDE GIROUX, PHILADELPHIA FLYERShi-res-143988136_crop_650x440

VEZINA TROPHY WINNER- HENRIK LUNDQVIST, NEW YORK RANGERSHenrik Lundqvist

SO THESE ARE MY EARLY PREDICTIONS.  JUST LIKE ANY OTHER SPORT…THESE ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.  Injuries happen, teams underperform, there are always sleepers.  I will say, I believe that the league is more competitive now than ten years ago when the same teams always won.  I mean…If you wanted to pick a Stanley Cup Champion…you could take LA KINGS, DETROIT RED WINGS, SAN JOSE SHARKS, BOSTON BRUINS, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS, CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS.  All of these teams have legitimate shots at a championship.  Look for the Philadelphia Flyers to make noise if their Goaltending can come  through.  If Ray Emery can stay healthy they could surprise.  The Rangers will also be a good team this season.  In the West, watch the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators.  Stay tuned as throughout the season I will analyze the NHL from week to week.  WELCOME BACK HOCKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WE MISSED YOU!

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2013 NHL PLAYOFF FRENZY

April, 2010…The Philadelphia Flyers were playing the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in Round 2. Boston had the edge at the start of the series. In fact, Boston had home ice advantage and was looking for it’s first Stanley Cup in over 20 years. The Flyers were also trying to erase the demons of years past and winning their first Cup since back to back Cups in 1974-1975.

The stage was set on January 1st, 2010 as the Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 at the Outdoor Winter Classic. It was an exciting game and the first of its kind. Fast Forward to April 2010. The Bruins, like the Flyers made the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, winning in overtime. The Bruins dispatched of the Buffalo Sabers with relative ease, taking the series 4-2. This set up a second round matchup in which the Bruins were better suited to win.

The stage was set. May, 2010. The Boston Bruins went ahead 3-0 in the series and the series was thought to be all but over. However, then an incredible rarity occurred. The Bruins went to the locker room for overtime, with a chance to sweep the Flyers. However, Simon Gagne destroyed their champagne party by scoring his first goal of the playoffs in his first game since coming back from an injury. The Flyers took the next two games easily which forced a Game 7 and the chance to make history. The Flyers were trying to become only the 3rd Team in Professional Sports to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0.

Well, Boston had everything going for them. They had Home Ice. They had the better goalie, the Flyers were starting Backup Michael Leighton, who was relatively unknown at this point. And then it happened. The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 First Period Lead and everyone in the Sports world had thought they had dodged a bullet. Not so. The Flyers chipped away and were able to tie the Game at 3 with less than 9 minutes to play. At the six minute mark, Simon Gagne once again capitalized on a neutral zone turnover and buried the game winning goal. The Bruins had collapsed. It was a colossal
Collapse. The Flyers went on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Well, 2011 brought redemption as the Bruins swept the Flyers in the Divisional Round and went on to Win the Stanley Cup Championship behind the stellar goaltending of Tim Thomas. Fast Forward to 2013. The Bruins made the playoffs after playing horrible the first month of the season. The Bruins were the Fourth Seed and would face the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs, who were playing in the playoffs for the first time in awhile. Well, Boston jumped out to a 1-0 and 3-1 lead in the series. Don’t look now, the Maple Leafs won the next two games to miraculously tie the series at 3. Even more astounding, was the fact that in game 7, Toronto went up 4-1 with less than 9 minutes to play. BANG! The Bruins scored 3 goals to tie and then scored the overtime winner to stave off another tremendous collapse.

Elsewhere, the 2013 Playoffs have been fun filled and not without drama. We had the huge brawl in Ottawa between the Senators and Montreal Canadiens. Game 3 saw 210 Penalty Minutes in the Third Period alone and 14 Fighting Majors. Wow…insane. Ottawa ultimately won the series knocking out yet another Canadian Heavyweight. In the other two Eastern Series, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the surprise New York Islanders 4-2 and the New York Rangers beat a feisty Washington Capitals team 4-3 en route to a date with Boston in the second round.

Over in the Western Conference, there has been more consistent play and more domination by one team across the board. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3, the San Jose Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Saint Louis Blues 4-2.

This playoff year has been extremely exciting to watch, especially with all of the rivalries. Not to mention…Four of the Original Six Teams have made the Semi-Finals…Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Boston. Boston went up 1-0 in the series with the Rangers with a game one win. Pittsburgh is up 2-0 in their series with the Senators going to Ottawa. The LA Kings are up 2-0 against the upstart Sharks and the Red Wings and Blackhawks are tied at one game a piece.

It has been an absolute frenzy thus far. So many analysts had picked the Flyers to win it all in the beginning if the year. Instead, it’s the Bruins who are playing like the unsung hero once again. They say KARMA can be a bitch. Well, Boston has shared it’s set of tragedies this past season and also sports collapses, but it looks like they may just be the Whitehorse in these 2013 NHL Playoffs. If you are not watching, you are definitely missing out. Tune in tonight…it’s getting interesting!

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PHILADELPHIA FLYERS COOKED

The Flyers lost their third game in a row tonight, virtually eliminating them from the Playoffs. There is a very minuscule chance for the Flyers to sneak into the Playoff Picture, however, they would need help from a bunch of teams that are ahead of them. The Flyers Number 1 Ranked Power Play is now 0-for April. Their penalty kill is ranked third. So, judging this season cannot place blame on the Special Teams.

Ok…well with adversity comes questions and the blame game will begin. Many fans have called for the ousting of Paul Holmgren. Although Holmgren has made many good moves in free agency as well as trades, he has failed to sign the players to get this team over the hump. Nonetheless, Holmgren did try and sign Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and trade for Rick Nash in the offseason. The Flyers brass was unsuccessful with all of these players.

It is no coincidence that ever since star defenseman Chris Pronger went down with post concussion syndrome, this Flyers team has not been the same. And while the Flyers were trying to sign the top free agents and trade for the best talent, they lost some of their own key players. Matt Carle, who came to the Flyers from the Tampa Bay Lightning, had grown into a top tier defenseman and was lost in free agency. The Flyers also lost Jaromir Jagr, who really had a comeback season and made all of the Flyers youth get better.

Lets take a look at why this season has went downhill. First and foremost, the teams major weakness was their Defense and turnovers. As mentioned earlier, the Flyers did try to address their defense in free agency and also at the trade deadline, but were not willing to part with their young talent. However, Holmgren did trade budding young star James Van Reimsdyke in the off season for Toronto Defenseman Luke Schenn. JVR has been superb for the Maple Leafs while Luke has struggled to be one of the Flyers top Defenders.

Another crippling aspect was the loss of Andre Mesaros and Brayden Coburn, probably their two best physical defensemen to injuries. So in retrospect, the Flyers must make some moves this off season this time around. The Flyers need to start addressing their weakness and the major fault is defensive breakdowns. Had the Flyers signed Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, their misfortunes could have been erased. Weber and Suter would bring the same type of physical play and leadership that Pronger gave this team.

Every year the Flyers have fell short in the Goaltending Department. Holmgren tried to address this last season when the Flyers went out and signed Vezina finalist Ilya Bryzgalov. Last year Bryzgalov struggled and was inconsistent. However, this season Bryzgalov has been stellar and he truly has been hung out to dry by a terrible defense. Bryzgalov has played in all but two of the Flyers games. He has all of the team’s wins with 17. His GAA is around 2.85. He has a .900 Save Percentage. Those stats may not be top rate but they would be a lot better if the defense has not let them down.

Of course this week…Bryzgalov went through a ton of turmoil by a Story that was reported that he fell asleep during a team meeting. This is yet another gaffe in the roller coaster of the Philadelphia Media. Then, last week at the trade deadline the Flyers traded for young goalie Steve Mason. This raises questions about who will be in net next season for the Flyers.

The Flyers also lost Daniel Briere…one of their offensive stars and team leaders. Briere may come back this weekend, but this may be his last nine games in a Flyer’s uniform. The Flyers also lost gritty leader Maxime Talbot for the season. Talbot brought tenacity and experience as he won a Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins, actually scoring the Game Winning Goal of that championship. Talbot will be back next year and hopefully healthy.

Let us not forget that the Flyers core players have an average age of 23. This fact cannot be discounted. Courtier just turned 20. The Schenn brothers are 23 and 21 respectively. Claude Giroux is 23. Wayne Simmonds is 24. These five players can be considered the Flyers core players. The leaders have to be Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, Max Talbot, re-acquired Simon Gagne, and Mike Knuble.

If I am the ownership of the Flyers, I am making a few moves next year. As good as Holmgren has been…I am moving another direction. I would go after former Goalie Ron Hextall to captain the ship. I’m keeping Laviolette. Peter has received a lot of criticism this season, but he has shown a great work ethic and I am keeping him.

The Flyers should also let Briere go, unless he decides to sign for a bargain price. They should also buy out Bryzgalov’s contract not because he has been horrible, but to have more payroll flexibility. They would save millions of dollars and could go after another top scorer as well as a Top Tier Defenseman. They should look at the goalies that will be available and if they can sign Luongo do it…if not go with Steve Mason who is only 24.

I think this team is still one or two years away from a Championship. Even though Jeff Carter and Mike Richards won a Cup after leaving the team…I still believe this team is more talented than the team that went to the cup a few years ago. The XFactor…Chris Pronger. Pronger was a Born Leader and was the player that made this team go, go, go. Anyways, this has been a disappointing season but there is still a bright future for this very young team.

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FLYERS SHOULD STAND PAT

Has anyone ever heard of the word growing pains. C’Mon, true “sports” fans have to understand this word and recognize the importance it has on building team chemistry which ultimately catapults them to the top and many times will lead to a championship. Lets face it…what has happened here in 2013 for the Philadelphia Flyers is exactly that…”Growing Pains.”

For those fair weather fans that are ready to jump ship, for those fans that are saying blow up the team and rebuild, for those fans that are calling for the oust of General Manager Paul Holmgren and the firing of fan favorite coach Peter Laviolette, for the impatient Philly faithful, for the “nega-delphians” around the city…please take note.

First of all…let us go back and rehash this past off season for the Flyers. Lets look at what a team did coming off a 103 point effort and trouncing of the star studded Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1 of last years playoffs. And yes, unfortunately the embarrassing loss to the New Jersey Devils in Round 2 and their early exit in the playoffs. Lets look back to the summer and all of the high hopes that fans had for this “very young” team.

Ok…first of all, for those fans that are ready to fire Paul Holmgren and Peter Laviolette, just remember this. You are the same fans that just last year were raving at the moves that were made in getting rid of core players Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Simon Gagne. Well here is a news flash, those three players won the Stanley Cup in their first season as Los Angeles Kings. Ok, also recognize that just because these players won the cup, it does not constitute a mistake on team managements fault for making changes.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were and still remain very talented. They were both drafted as number 1 picks and were home grown talent. They even led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup in 2010, only to lose in a disappointing end to a better Blackhawks team. Well, on the surface one would say wow…this was a huge mistake on Holmgren’s part. Well…here is another news flash…2012 was not a mirage. The Flyers Achilles heel has and always will be
Goaltending. Check. Holmgren went out and signed one of the Top Free Agent Goalies Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge contract. Bryzgalov was coming off 3 consecutive 30 win seasons in Phoenix and was a runner up for the Vezina Trophy in two of those years.

The trades of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were not only bold moves, but also moves that turned out to be fruitful for the Flyers. Claude Giroux had established himself as the young rising star and this team was budding with youth and talent. The Flyers signed Jaromir Jagr in a move that many saw as a leap of faith. However, when all was said and done the Flyers had huge success and Jagr was one of the key components to help the Flyers gain 103 points and make it to the second round.

Ok…flash forward to the offseason and last years free agent scenario. First of all, the Flyers right away tried to address their flaws right away by trading for defenseman Luke Schenn, brother of Brayden who was a budding star for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Schenn, in his early twenties is the type of defenseman that you can build a team around. However, the Flyers paid a price as they shipped away one of their own young rising stars, James Van Reimsdyke. Do not discount this loss.

Secondly, Holmgren went hard and fast to sign restricted Free Agent Shea Weber, the best Defenseman on the market, only to see Nashville match the offer. Check. Ok, then the Glyeds tried to sign Zach Parise, the best offensive player on the market only to lose out again to Columbus this time. The Flyers actually offered more money and more years…check. When they lost out on Parise, they did the next best thing and courted the best free agent defenseman Ryan Sutter only to lose out once again…check. They also offered Sutter more money but ultimately lost out on him too.

Ok…so let us recap, the Flyers tried to sign the top 3 free agents available and were unfortunately unsuccessful. I would not exactly call that poor management and I would not say that Holmgren did not put his best effort out to make the team better. There is only one problem that occurs when a team spends free agency courting other teams best players. Don’t miss the point folks, the risk is losing their own key free agents.

While Holmgren was busy trying to get the best…the Flyers lost a few key players of their own to Free Agency. Once again…it was not for lack of trying. The Flyers had offered Defenseman Matt Carle a huge contract but he wanted to test the waters. Well, he signed to his old team the Lightning for less money. Check. Ok…not the end of the world right…we are trying to get the best defenseman available. Well…we see what happened they failed in this quest so this was the first key loss.

Jaromir Jagr had his best year in five years and really helped these young Flyers forwards mature. Well, while the Flyers were courting Parise, who BTW torched them in the playoff loss to the Devils, Jagr grew impatient and signed with the Dallas Stars. Check. Well, not only did they lose Jagr, they were unsuccessful in landing Parise, even though they had offered more money. Check.

Ok…well Holmgren was now looking at a very unhappy fan base although if any of these moves had been successful, he would have been praised. Damned if you do…damned if you don’t. Holmgren could have threw in the towel at this point and called it a draw but instead he became more aggressive. At this point, he tried feverishly to trade for disgruntled forward Rick Nash, who would have instantly made up for all their failures. Well in the end, Columbus wanted the whole kitchen sink so Holmgren decided not to trade the youngsters. Check. He even tried to pry away hometown hero Bobby Ryan from the Aneheim Ducks, but they wanted Schenn or Courtier…not happening. Check.

Ok…so no one can blame Holmgren as he did anything and everything to try and get the best players and these moves just did not Pan out. This does not mean there was a lack of effort. Then Holmgren tried to sign some grit players in Ruslan Fedotenko and Bruno Gervais. These players were not stars but players who could fit in nicely with the youth tenacity. He even brought back Mike Knuble when Scott Hartnell went down early this season with an injury. So no one can blame Holmgren.

As for blowing up this team, that idea is ludicrous. It’s obvious the Flyers have a ton of young talent. Well…the whole point of having young talent is growing pains where these players live and die together on the ice and eventually they go on to win the Stanley Cup. Look back at many past winners…Detroit Red Wings, Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, the list goes on and on. Well the point is it takes time for young teams to win championships. It doesn’t just happen overnight.

Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Courtier, Matt Read, Zack Rinaldo. These players are all core players and not one if them is twenty-five years old. Check. The loss of Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr may have been more deflating than the loss of signing those great free agents. Matt Carle was a veteran anchor of the Defense. And Jagr was a mentor to the young Claude Giroux.

Peter Laviolette has made the best of what he has. What the Flyers have us a very young team that is two or three years away from contending. The apple does not fall far from the tree. If you somehow do not believe this fact, take a look at the Los Angeles Kinhs who finally won a Cup with all of their young free agents after they grew and the team surrounded them with key free agents year after year. Finally their patience paid off and the LA Kings won The Stanley Cup.

So where are the naysayers now. I know you want Holmgren gone. I know you are looking to fire Laviolette because someone has to take the blame. I know many of you want to do ridiculous trades and get rid of Courtier or Schenn and Simmonds. Trust me, the Flyers need to stand pat and not make any irrational moves. Do not…I repeat do not ABORT the plan. Be patient. No trades at this point or players for rent will help the Flyers win the Stanley Cup at this time.

I repeat…do not make any trades just for the sake of making trades unless it will better this team. By that, I mean if the Flyers could get Marian Gaborik or Jarome Igunlia for a pick and a player I would do it. Other than those two players, I would not be interested at any of the names being mentioned.

Remember we live and die with this team. We bleed orange just like Eagles fans bleed green. But do not let your emotions get the best of you and make you become irrational in thinking. The truth be told…this team is only a few years away from contention…just be patient. Remember the 2008 Phillies. Same concept/same principal. The team stayed patient and eventually won a championship with all of its core young home grown players. Don’t give up hope Flyers fans. This team will win…just be a realist.

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Saint Patricks Day Fotter

Hey all…it’s been awhile. I have been very busy so sorry that there has not been much activity as of late. Nonetheless, here we are Sunday March 17th, Saint Patrick’s Day. Wow, spring is almost here so as I stated this is one of the most exciting times of the year in the world of sports and entertainment.

We are a week into NFL Free Agency and there have been many surprises as well as many no brained as far as player signings and releases. The Miami Dolphins have been extremely busy in the first week. The Dolphins secured the best free agent wide receiver in the market (Mike Wallace) and Brandon Gibson while resigning Brian Hartline. The Dolphins also signed Free Agent Tight End Dustin Keller. The Chiefs have also had a busy offseason in Andy Reid’s debut behind the helm. Getting Alex Smith was huge.

In the NFC, The Philadelphia Eagles have had an interesting free agent period this far mostly concentrating on Defense. Their Defense was the weak link do this only makes sense. It also fuels the debate on wether they will select the best quarterback Gino Smith with their first pick in the draft. Smith recently went 60/64 in passing at the combine. It makes perfect sense and would be the perfect fit for the Eagles behind their new boss. In other NFC news, Dallas has remained quiet so far and it’s fans are getting unruly.

Spring Training is winding down and there are so many topics up for debate. As a Phillies fan, this spring has been exciting to say the least. It is good to see Utley and Howard finally healthy. Michael Young has been a huge addition to the lineup and Domenic Brown has been a pleasant surprise. The question mark remains Roy Halladay and his health. His velocity is drastically declined which raised the question will he last the season? This will be vital how this plays out.

The NHL is winding down in its version of what they would like to call a season. Wow…48 games…no time to weed out the good from the bad. Of course…the Flyers have been a disappointment so far, but I did not see them winning much this year anyway. The East is a battle between Pittsburgh, Boston and Montreal at the top. The west is dominated by the once unbeaten Chicago BlackHawks. The defending Champion LA Kings are back and the surprise Minnesota Wild are at the top. It should be an exciting final month of Hockey.

In the entertainment world there are so much news and notes. As far as television goes…the series Walking Dead is getting more traffic than ever. I must admit…I thought this would be a horrible show before a friend of mine made me watch an episode. Now I am HOOKED. There is also the show Breaking Bad about the Cancer Patient turned Meth Trafficker, The Following which pits a sick twisted serial killer against the world, as well as another season of CSI, American Idol, and Grey’s Anatomy.

The Movies have been fast and furious beginning last week with Oz:The Great and Powerful (The Prequel to the 1939 Classic) and Jack the Giant Killer based on Jack in the Beanstalk. I highly recommend both of these movies for any age level. They were both extremely well put together.There are many other great movies to come. Next week will bring the sequel to the GI Joe series. And later this summer, The Man of Steel the highly anticipated Version of the Superman Series.

In world news…the Gun Control debate remains at the fore front with a standstill. Those poor families that lost Loved Ones in December must be frustrated as I know I am. This issue is beyond ridiculous. These automatic weapons should have been banned a long time ago and yet the Government has still not been able to put a dent in this ongoing crisis. The debt crisis has not gotten any better. HealthCare reform sucks and the economy sucks. This Government better act soon or their will be a revolt.

On Tuesday, Anthrax will release their cover album “Anthems” which is a collection of cover songs from bands like AC/DC and Deep Purple. Deftones also has a new album out. I highly recommend the new Buck Cherry Album “Confessions.” Ok folks…that’s all I got for today but just know…I am BACK!

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GAGNE RETURN HIT WITH FANS: MORE TO COME

Last night marked the return of Simon Gagne to Philadelphia. Gagne was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Well, Gagne finally won that elusive ring last season with a few other Flyers of the past. As a huge Flyers fan, and an even bigger admirer of the NHL, I could never be jealous that Gagne won a cup wearing another teams jersey. Look, the ultimate goal of any player Is to win a Cup, and lets face it, Gagne had never tasted it in his plus ten years with the Flyers.

Ok…flash forward to last night at the Wells Fargo Center. As Gagne took the ice, I cannot remember a louder ovation for a returning player in an extremely long time. Simon was always a fan favorite and was drafted by the Flyers. He had many great seasons with this team. Some of his most notable goals were the Game 4 Overtime winner against Boston in the 2010 SemiFinals that saw the Flyers down 3-0 to the Bruins. He also scored the game winner in Game 7 of that same series. The last goal that Gagne would score as a Flyer was in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, the closet he would ever come to tasting Cup Glory as a Flyer. The Flyers eventually lost that game in overtime as a seeing eye dribbler went past Michael Leighton and ended the Flyers chase for Glory.

Well, the Blackhawks are perfect his season so far…sitting a top the NHL in almost every statistical category that is measured. Last Seasons Champion, the Los Angeles Kings have also been on a role after an early struggle. However, Gagne had not scored a goal and was a healthy scratch for six straight games. When the trade was announced on Tuesday, I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised. Caught off guard, yes, but not surprised. The Flyers have been known to bring stars back into the fold after trading them away. Mark Recchi three times, John LeClair, Ron Hextall, Mike Knuble most recently and the list could go on for days. The point I am trying to make is that the Flyers have actually made a wise choice at a wise time.

Simon was struggling on the Kings this season…to the point that he was benched. However, he still has better than average speed and a knack for putting the puck in the net. Gagne also should be able to help both sides of the Flyers special teams with their horrible penalty kill and their average power play. Gagne’s presence on the ice paid off immediately in his first game back last night as he scored a power play goal, his first goal of the season. Now Gagne not only brings veteran leadership back to this team, he also brings playoff experience and a ring. Never discount the importance of that fact. Look at the Rangers in 1994 when Mark Messier brought the Rangers a Cup. It happens all of the time. Now the Flyers should make a few more trades for veterans to mix with the star youth of this team. They should not be ready to give up on the season yet…anything can happen if they just make the playoffs.

The trade rumors for Daniel Briere are just that…rumors. First of all, Briere has a no trade clause. Secondly, even though he is struggling right now, he may be one of the best active performers in the playoffs right now. Thirdly, I think trading Briere would send a bad message to the team that they are basically not going anywhere this season. Instead of trading Briere, how about trading Courtier or another young player for a veteran that can put the puck in the net. Look at the trade block, there are many big names available that could help the Flyers get back on track. It’s great to have Gagne back on this team and I believe he Will give this team a tremendous lift. Stay tuned for more moves. Paul Holmgren never sits back.

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THE IDES OF MARCH

February comes to a close today as we head into the month of March. The term “Ides of March” used to represent the middle of the month on the Roman Calendar. It was a festive day and dedicated to the “God Mars” and a Military Parade was usually held. In modern day history, the term refers to the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Senate Conspirators in 44 B.C.

In today’s society, The Ides of March marks the end of February and the transition from winter to spring. The Ides of March can truly share many meanings for many different people and many different cultures. In today’s American culture, the term can refer to many things, but mostly relates to the change of season, going from the long cold winter to the refreshing season of Spring.

My own version of the Ides of March can be summed up by sports and music etymology. First of all, this year does not have a 29th day of February meaning there is no leap year. March marks the luminous sound of balls pounding leather, bats cracking at the sound of a ball being rocketed from home plate, the smell of fresh cut grass, the chants of “Hot Dogs Here”, the sounds of fans shouting (either cheering or booing), the sight of young kids as they try to get their favorite player’s (heroes) autograph or picture, the sight of a manager scolding one of his young players for making a mistake in hopes that the player will learn from this mistake. The Ides of March marks spring training Baseball, the start of another new Season and everyone is at square one.

March also marks the beginning of the NFL combine, the rigorous tests on college football stars with the hopes of getting drafted by some NFL team, it is the hopes and dreams of young college players just waiting for the chance to display their physical skills for the entire NFL to see, it marks the numerous General Manager Meetings, Free Agency begins, Teams are finalizing their coaching staffs and making player personnel decisions based on where the team finished last season, it is the prelude to the NFL Draft which comes in April.

The Ides of March means the beginning of the sprint towards the playoffs in both basketball and hockey. Teams are jockeying for position and are making roster moves and trades to either help them now or better their future, they are gearing up for the most spirited grind in sports, coaches on the hot seat, players changing jerseys, veterans slowing down, rookies become stars, the spotlight is on in full force on both of these sports. Only one team will win the prize and March is where it all begins to come to a Climax.

The Ides of March represents the sprint to the finish line for High School Seniors. It marks the race towards the Senior Prom, Senior Trips, and finally High School Graduation. It also marks the start of many college hopefuls visiting different colleges In hopes of finding the one that best fits their needs. It also is the time where testing is done to qualify students strengths and weaknesses.

The Ides of March also marks the true beginning if the new Music/Movie Season as the Grammys and Oscars have been completed and now we look forward to all of the new material that will come about in 2013. Bands are working in new albums. Recording studios are scouring the local clubs and bars to find that next great talent. Tours begin to kick off as fans wait in line for days to purchase tickets. New Movie Releases are pouring out weekly, each week trying to outdo the last. Actors and Actresses are either coming to their end or are on the rise.

The Ides of March is a very fun time in my opinion. The change of season is always welcome and going from the winter weather to the spring and summer months is just a mile away. As we come to the end of another February, let us ponder how our new year has began so far. For many if us this year has started off terrible. Well, there is good news. March is here and it’s time for change. There is hope to turn things around. You have to want to change. You have to have the will to change. March should bring a welcome opportunity to embrace this change and come full circle.

As I conclude this blog, I believe it is very important for people to realize that this time of the year is where you can make or break the choices you will make for the upcoming year. Enjoy the change of weather. Spring and Summer Sun should lead us to happier days. They say that the Sun can “pull you out of depression”. So as the Ides of March approach, praise God that you are alive and well and that you wake up everyday to a new day. Be thankful for what you do have not envious of what you don’t have. Remain positive and always move forward. The Ides of March are here…Embrace

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SUPER SUNDAY: QUICK FACTS AND NOTES

Super Bowl Sunday 2013 has arrived. I feel like these years keep getting shorter and shorter the older I get ugghhh! Anyways, last year saw the New York Football Giants upset the New England Patriots for the second time in 3 years in the Super Bowl. This years addition brings a few new teams to the big dance, well not new, both teams have won Super Bowls. The 49ers have Five…Baltimore has One…ironically they beat the same New York Giants in a blowout. They became only the third wild card team in history to win a Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is really a giant overrated day of eating tons of food, people getting sloppy drunk, partying to the late hours of the night, many people not even watching the game, expensive commercials and much more hoopla. My friend Aaron said it best…the anticipation builds and builds and builds and then it is a giant letdown. Truly, these games are hard to enjoy unless your team is playing in it and for us Eagles fans…this has only been twice in the last 34 years!!!! 2004 was the last time the Eagles were in a Super Bowl…and of course we all know how that game ended. We felt like broken bones…we felt like a piece of our own was taken away that day.

Aaron also made another very good point the other day…and this is really true if you research the numbers. The past Ten Super Bowls have probably been the most entertaining ones in the modern era. I can remember the 80’s and 90’s the Super Bowls were major blowouts with one team demolishing the other. I remember a few of the Dallas Cowboy routes, as well as the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, etc. These games were over before they began. And another odd fact was that the NFC dominated the big day. As of late, the AFC has turned the tide drastically barring the few Giants wins and Packers. New England, of course, has been the Pittsburgh Steelers of the Seventies, the 49ers of the Eighties, the Dallas Cowboys of the Nineties.

Today when you are all watching the game, remember that this game will feature brother against brother. The HarBowl. The 49ers are favored by 4 and many analysts are saying this game will not be close. I am if the other opinion…I am picking the Baltimore Ravens to win their Second Super Bowl in 13 years. I think Ray Lewis is going to go out with a bang. I think Joe Flacco is going to shine and represent the Delaware Valley proud. I think the Ravens Defense is going to pick the 49ers offense apart. I am taking the Ravens to win the game 21-17. The game will not be as close as the score in essence.

Well, well, well…the Philadelphia Flyers actually won a game last night. The New line combination of Danny Briere and Claude Giroux looked like a match made in Heaven. Power Play Goal…check. Penalty Kill solid…check. Shots on goal…check. And stellar goaltending…check. Ilya Bryzgalov has been the Flyers best player this far this season. He is in a zone and is playing like he did in his Vezina finish season. Standing tall, square to the shooter. Last night he made 39 Saves, many at point blank range. If he can keep playing like this we can only hope that the Flyers can find their scoring touch.

The Alex Rodriguez debacle is just another example if how Major League Baseball has failed in its attempt to rid the game of cheaters and illegal substances that enhance performance. I know that Ryan Braun was acquitted last year of his charges, but I am sure that a few years from now it will come out that he was doping. MLB must get more strict even if it goes against popular beliefs in the league. This commissioner has not impressed me I e bit. This league for all the good things has a black cloud over it. Less players of our time will make the Hall of Fame and rightfully so. These players are a joke and they mock the league. Baseball used to be sacred and these scum bags are ruining the sanctity of the game. Well speaking if the game…pitchers and catchers report next week so this is where it gets exciting once again. Spring Training is right around the corner.

So today…everyone have a happy day and enjoy the game and all of the wild parties. Be safe and don’t drink and drive. Don’t act stoopid. Don’t get silly drunk in front of kids. That’s just not cool anymore. Maybe when you were in college…but CMon! Please, grow up and just enjoy the game without all of the drama. Lets go Ravens!!!!!!!

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FLYERS LOOK FOR CONSISTENCY

So far the Flyers are 2-5 in Seven Games. In those Seven Games they have scored 14 Goals which averages out to 2 Goals a game, not typical for a Flyers Team that usually is in the Top Scoring Teams. What makes this stat even more disturbing is that the Flyers scored 7 Of those goals in one game. So if you take away the 7 goals, the Flyers have scored a total of 7 goals in the six other games. Lets face it…Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek could all be in net and the Flyers would still not win under this formula.

In Contrast, Ilya Bryzgalov has been the one bright spot for the team. Remember back to last year, fans were calling for Bryzgalov to be cut or traded after a horrific first half. He came to the Flyers on a huge contract with Vezina Credentials. Well lets just say it took him most of the season to get in a groove. However, down the stretch he was stellar. He was playing in the Russian League during the Strike where he posted solid numbers. So Far this year, Bryzgalov has a 2.19 GAA and a .924 Save Percentage both in the Top 10 and he has faced the third most shots in the league. What a turnaround.

Of course, one major problem is the team’s penalty killing which is second to last in the league at a 65%Rate, horrible for a team that usually has a great penalty kill. Not only is the Penalty Kill piss poor, but the power play is terrible as well. I remember a few short years ago the Flyers always had one of the Top 5 Power Plays and Penalty Kills. Now, most of that had to do with Mike Richards being one of the best two way forwards in the league. But it also had to do with getting pucks on net.

The injury to Scott Hartnell puts a serious hole in the team’s lineup. Scott not only puts up a ton of points, but he has also become one of the teams top leaders being a role model for all of the Flyers youth. With no surprise, Claude Giroux has been the Flyers best player. However, Giroux cannot do this on his own. The Flyers must get back to Peter Laviollettes system. They need to buy into the defensive first style and then pounce on turnovers. Danny Briere is back and should give the team a jump start on offense. He had 10 shots on net last game.

Well, there are only 41 games left so the Flyers need to right this ship fast. They are not afforded the luxury of waiting awhile to turn it around. It must start tonight against the Washington Capitals. Cut down the turnovers, Score on the Power Play and stop the other teams special teams. Also, shoot the puck. Stop trying to be so fancy. Well, if my hunch is right, the Flyers will start to right the ship tonight!

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