First place Flyers feature scoring balance

The first overall Flyers (well, tied with Vancouver) host the Habs tonight and for both teams it’s the last game before the All-Star break. In their last game before the Christmas break, Philly lost to the Panthers 5-0, so they plan to be more prepared this time and not looking ahead to their time off.

“We can’t overlook that game. It’s going to be a very intense game –
they always are against Montreal,” said center Danny Briere (quoted by Sam Carchidi in The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s easy to
get motivated for a game like that.”

“They’re a great, defensive-oriented team with great goaltending, so we’re going to have our work cut out to earn some goals,” captain Mike Richards told Carchidi, And Richards added the Habs “have always given us problems in the regular season, and it seems like every time we play them, it’s a close game.”

James van Riemsdyk injured his groin in Saturday’s Flyers loss to the Devils and did not play in the Sunday afternoon win over the Blackhawks. It’s uncertain if he’ll play tonight. That allowed Dan Carcillo to get into the lineup Sunday. His value remains mostly as a light heavyweight; otherwise he can be undisciplined, a distraction and ineffective (he’s a team-worst minus-7). Carcillo could well be back in tonight. If so, the game could get contentious.

But even without van Riemsdyk’s 12 goals and 11 assists, the Flyers are a powerful club, their 169 goals tops in the NHL. They’re the only team with four players who have topped the 40-point mark so far this season — Claude Giroux (46), Richards (45), Briere (43) and Jeff Carter (43). Giroux had four assists on Sunday. And these four guys play on three different lines, which poses problems for opposition defenders. All four of these players are centres, although Carter and Giroux alternate between centre and wing.

Those four aside, Philly also gets strong contributions from their other wingers like Ville Leino, Scott Hartnell and van Riemsdyk. Nikolay Zherdev, who had been hot the last time the Habs met the Flyers in mid-December, scored against the Blackhawks, but has only two goals in January.

Philly also has Chris Pronger back to anchor their defence. He returned last Thursday after missing 13 games with a broken foot. During that time, the Flyers went 9-4-0. Coach Peter Laviolette eased Pronger back into the lineup in his first game back, giving him about 20 minutes of ice time, but in the last two games, Pronger has been around his season average of 22 minutes. He has played as much as 26 this season.

Their defence corps compensated for his absence by getting some strong production from Matt Carle, who has a goal and 23 assists on the season — all at even strength. Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros also give the Flyers production from the blue line while Braydon Coburn and Sean O’Donnell remain stay-at-home types.

The Flyers continue to be the best team in the NHL five-on-five with 119 goals. But their power play only ranks 20th in the NHL, at 16.6 percent, which will face the Canadiens penalty kill, third best in the league at 85.4. The Habs PP is 10th at 20.6 percent and they’ll face a Flyers PK that is 12th at 82.6. But the Flyers are dangerous shorthanded, with 7 goals, the third best total in the league.

Their record this month is 9-2-0 and part of that has been the improved play of goalie Sergei Bobrovski, who has a 1.80 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage in his last five starts. He missed a shutout against the Blackhawks on Sunday only by allowing a penalty shot goal to Marian Hossa.

When the Devils beat the Flyers on Saturday, they did it with an unexpected (for New Jersey) puck possession game that surprised the Flyers. The Canadiens are still a faster team than the Flyers and the battle between Montreal’s speed and Philadelphia’s size and physicality will once again be on display.


  1. Duracell3 says:

    I have doubts that a 1 year deal will keep Markov, he will probably be able to go somewhere else for a decent term and make more, plus tax incentives.

  2. PrimeTime says:

    Injuries and not enough depth unlike our Habs……but of course we have the worst GM amd Coach in the league.

  3. jimmy shaker says:

    Very valid statements but I think the club believes in these two guys and wants them here for the long haul.  For Marky, he has a longer time to recover and condition himself and build the strength back in the knee for the beginning of next season.  If the habs only offer a one yr term, another team will come in and offer a longer term guaranteed.  I think a two yr at about the same money keeps both sides happy and lets Marky prove himself.  I think Gorges value cannot be more than 3.5 mill even if he was healthy.  SO for this injury, I think he bumps down to 3mill/per for 3 years.  I think both sides can agree on that and be more than happy.  Both players want to stay, the club want them both to stay, so it should be a fairly straight forward negotiation(s).


  4. HabFanSince72 says:

    Yup. Having a number one who is the 26th ranked keeper in the league can’t help.


  5. Ian Cobb says:

    They need a goal tender that can bring it consistently.

  6. shiram says:

    But if we keep Wiz, who will command big bucks, can we and do we try to resign Markov?? Those 2 combined will for sure amount to 10 millions+ in salary.

    Gorges due for a raise as well, and that cant all be covered by Hamrlik leaving, freeing his 5 million in cap space.

    It is really fun to discuss on here with no responsibility, but that job must be all hell!

  7. Jordio-oh says:

    Timmins joined the habs in July 2002. He was director of player personel and then director of the scouting operations of the Senators up until then. So he had his say in some of the high draft picks the sens took in the early-mid 90’s.

    In Jul/02, there was some talk that Timmins was in the running for GM of the Sens, until the job went to Muckler.

    So, its safe to assume that Timmins started to make his mark on the habs starting at the infamous 2003 nhl entry draft.



  8. TheDagger says:

    A good candidate for sure. People might not agree but I think Carey Price should get a long look too; he had a bad year last year, had his own fans booing him, but has shown a lot of hard work, maturation, and dedication to become one of the leagues top goalies this year.

  9. Hobie Hansen says:

    Ya Spacek had a quite a few brutal games early in the season. When he plays below 20 minutes a game he’s not bad. The 16-18 minute range is where he seems to play his best hockey. Less mental mistakes from not getting enough oxygen to the brain or something?

  10. derfab says:

    Good young players set free to play to their greater and nastier potential by the presence and muscle of Pronger and Hartnell.

  11. JD_ says:

    Piece on Flyers GM Paul Holmgren in this mornin’s Gazoo. Holmgren uses Clarkie when makin’ reference to his mentor, Bobby Clobber. This ostensibly means Clobber is referred to as Bobby Clarkie around the office.

    With a guy named Bobby Clarkie hoverin’ over everythin’ – cause you just know he’s hoverin’ – is it any wonder these collective douchebags still don’t get the goaltendin’ thing? Chicago dumps Stanley-Cup receivin’ goaltender, Aunty Niemi, cause his agent delusionally believes he’s worth a bajillion dollars, and Philly signs the guys who lost the Cup.

    The Curse of Bernie Parent, indeed. Clobber never got over the Conn Smythe snub. Twice.

    Speakin’ of snubbin’, what’s today’s PK Snubban story? My sources are tellin’ me Sooby-Dooby-Do coughed while walkin’ by a church yesterday. I also know PK wasn’t high-fived by a Vatican emissary.

    Holy snubbin’, Batman.

  12. Hockey Socks says:

    I never thought about Darche for the Masterton, but I can’t think of a player on the Habs this season that deserves it more.

  13. mrhabby says:

    side note….savard out indefinetly with concussion.

  14. secretdragonfly says:

    Good article in the Globe on Darche (but someone should let Mr. Gordon know that it’s spelled Mathieu)

  15. Gormdog says:

    I guess its just a big ol mystery as to how the FLyers drafted Kevin Marshall two picks before good ol Ontario boy Subban… Even the best team, with the best scouts, and a great drafting record, can miss studs right under their noses…


    Also, I would argue its WAY too early to call McDonagh a bust. From what ive seen in Rangers games this season, hes a great skater who makes good decisions. Could have potentially been a great partner for PK over the next 5 years since he has some size, mobility, lots of d awareness, and can keep up with PKs pace.

  16. HabFanSince72 says:

    The Flyers success is grounded in solid drafting. Richards, Carter and Giroux are all excellent. I think the Flyers plan is to try to draft from Ontario, where they have an excellent intelligence network.


    The Canadiens drafting from 1990 to 2005 was woeful, and we are still paying the price for that. I am not sure when Timmins took over but he has certainly done a decent job, at least with post 1st-round picks – his obsession with Minnesotans notwithstanding.

    (Richards, Carter, and Giroux could all have been drafted by the Habs – the most egregious mistake being Fischer instead of Giroux). McDonagh is also a bust, but we picked Max Pac and PK after him that year.




  17. Hobie Hansen says:

    LOL, ot wrong at all. They have a playoff team, minus a goaltender…we dont

  18. PrimeTime says:

    Paid to score or paid to win?? Habs are a tough team to beat even though we are beatable. How many teams have blown us out this year?? At the same time, how many games have we blown out other teams ?? Habs games are always close because we play a solid defensive games and try to be better on specialty teams. Our challenge is obviously putting the puck in the net when we have the chances but we cause the opposition to have the same challenges. To focus on scoring more goals would sacrifice our defensive team mentality. Pick your poison.

  19. RGM says:

    You forgot your customary ragging on Carey Price in this post.

    Go Habs Go!

  20. nunacanadien says:

    Gomez, Gionta, Gill, you bastards better stand up for PK Subban.  Enough of this letting Mike Richards tell it like it is and how it should be for the Habs.  You bastards get paid to score so score, and Gomez, enough of this shoving the puck towards the other teams goalie, you should learn how to shoot the puck, that’s what the stick is for Scott Gomez, its so you can shoot the puck into the net.

  21. RGM says:

    Games against Philly and Boston are always the best and easiest to get excited about. These are our greatest rivals because of the history of important games played against one another and because of the different philosophies that guide the respective organizations. It will be a beautiful thing to beat them in their barn tonight.

    Go Habs Go!

  22. Hobie Hansen says:

    The Flyers have the ultimate NHL team, minus a star goaltender. They have the perfect blend of skill and toughness. However, they can still be beat by a team like Montréal due to their stupidity in never going after a top quality net minder.  

    The Habs are starting down the right path as well. With Pacioretty on the 2nd line, Pouliot and Darche on the 3rd and White and Moen on the 4th. Those guys won’t necessarily strike the fear of god into anyone but they’ve got some size and grit.

    If Gauthier can make a deal for that coveted power forward to play on the top line with Cammalleri and Plekanc, we’ll be in business.  

  23. Maksimir says:

    Is it just me or does everyone seem to get ‘pumped up’ when they play the Habs? Can’t a team or two just once in a while say: it doesn’t matter to us we’re playing Montreal – they’re just another hockey team..

  24. Cool Ice Price says:

    And Richards added the Habs “have always given us problems in the regular season, and it seems like every time we play them, it’s a close game.

    So he’s saying when they play the Habs in the playoffs the Habs are push overs & gives them no problems?


    Habs Passion unites us all

  25. Say Ash says:

    Is he wrong?

  26. Caballero says:

    The Flyers are a great test for us because until we can beat teams like this we will never get to a Stanley Cup final. It’s unfortunate that besides PK, no big bodies on our team can throw their weight around.

  27. Bill H says:

    Well, first of all, if a players were to say, “Montreal, so what?” the reporter would likely go and get a quote from someone who is a little more excited about the game.  So we wouldn’t be reading the “So what” quote.

    And let’s face it, when teams come to play in Montreal, they find the fans to be quite passionate.  That makes for a more exciting game from the player’s perspective.  Especially when the visiting team comes from the Sunbelt where more than likely they are playing to a half empty rink.

    Furthermore, Montreal is a tough team to beat.  Its not like playing Toronto.

    With teams like Flyers, or Boston, there is a rivalry there based on facing them in the playoffs.  So the players do get pumped.

    But I don’t really understand why you would object to a quote like that.  The reporter is looking for a quote, the player gives him a quote.  That’s the way professional sports work.

  28. PrimeTime says:

    Do want the Habs to be “just another hockey team”?? I know what you’re saying but please…..think about it. No thanks!

  29. Trenton_Romulox says:

    Yeah, in today’s NHL drafting is so hugely important. It’s very hard to build a Cup-winning team solely out of free agents these days. If you can’t constantly have young, cheap talent on your NHL roster, it’s so hard to be able to get the rest of the pieces. That being said, I like the Habs young players rather well and I’d say that our team is in a decent position looking towards the future.

  30. Exit716 says:

    If you think it’s bad that the Habs missed Giroux, what about the Ottawa 67s? He was playing Tier Two Jr. A in Navan, right in Ottawa’s backyard and they never bothered to even give him an invite to training camp.


  31. Mark C says:

    No no, Gorm, only Montreal can be blamed for missing out on certain players in a draft.

  32. Say Ash says:

    If he has any brain cells left, he’ll hang up the skates for good.

  33. habs03 says:

    Don’t look now but Spacek has been playing well ever since moving back to the left side and playing a few less minutes along side Weber.

  34. mrhabby says:

    crosby out and now savard and no response from NHL head office.

  35. SeriousFan09 says:

    Flyers are ahead of the Canadiens right now and there isn’t much we can do about it, except wish that Pronger gets the career-ending injury he’s deserved for years of course.

    I’ve said before, Canadiens won’t really get into the Top of the league until more talent builds out of the system around the 12-13, 13-14 seasons when names like Leblanc, Kristo, Avtsin are ready to graduate offensively, Weber and Nash work out as well and hopefully, Tinordi does become the faster, meaner version of Hal Gill in two or three more years. Yemelin remains a dream to bring over, but he would also help establish a real youth movement on the back end. Granted, this also figures into Markov and Gorges having successful recoveries and returning to the game.

    I’d also point out we’re not as far down as others would like to say we are just to prove their opinions of how dismal they think the Habs are. I said before the season started (and was mocked for it) that with Markov, the Canadiens are a 100-point team with a strong shot at the NE Title. at present, the Canadiens are pacing for 98 points and keeping close with Boston for that title, only behind because they’re better at getting loser points than we are.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  36. Ayan_SB says:

    What the hell is going on with St-Louis? They’re 14th in the West, mind you they’re still 6 points away from a playoff spot.

  37. shiram says:

    Those next coming season will be interesting, and you have to figure if Price keeps up his excellent play, he will be in line for quite a raise, and the cap situation at that point becomes very tricky.

    With only Gomez, Plekanec, Cammy and Gionta still signed on for the 12-13 season, you have to think that next year might be a crux year, or that the 12-13 season will be one for us to be a definitive contender.


  38. SeriousFan09 says:

    This summer is tricky as well, they need to give Wisniewski a new contract IMO and Gauthier needs to figure out his contracts with Markov and Gorges, 1-year deals (at a lower $ value of course) to see how they do post-recovery and than talk term? They come back to form, Gauthier will have a ton of work for contract negotiations the summer of 2012. So far, his two first major contract deals in Pleks and Carey have been solid, have to see how he does in future negotiations of course.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  39. Hobie Hansen says:

    They’re Missing Perron and McDonald, two of their top 6 have been out for a while…more concussions! Oshie just returned after missing a bunch of games too.

  40. Ayan_SB says:

    I wouldn’t call the drafting “woeful”. A few years ago, there were more Habs-drafted players in the league than any other team. That may still be true. It’s a matter of player development. Guys like Robidas, Vokoun and Beauchemin illustrates that the Habs have drafted guys who are able to succeed in the NHL, if not the on the team itself.

    During the late 90’s and early 00’s, the Habs were bad, but they were never bad enough to get a top 5 pick, and when we finally did after the lockout, guess what? We got Carey Price.

    They have however made some WTF decisions. Such as drafting Eric Chouinard instead of his linemate Simon Gagne. Moreover, I still remember everybody criticized the David Fischer pick, especially considering there was a francophone player (and let’s face it, that matters here), who grew up a Habs fan, absolutely tearing it up at the QMJHL. His name was Claude Giroux. 

    However, guys like Halak, Plekanec, Subban, Markov shows that the Habs are capable of drafting a #1 goalie, #1 centre, #1 defensemen past the first round. 

  41. jimmy shaker says:

    Highly unlikely that gorges and marky only get 1 yr terms and even more unlikely they get less money and the most unlikeliest of situations is that they get 1 yr terms at a lower rate of what they are getting at the moment.  I believe Marky will get at least 2 yrs at 6 mill/per and gorges gets a 3yr at 3 to 3.5 mill/per


  42. SeriousFan09 says:

    Also depends on how much the cap grows this year, chatter has it may grow another 2-3 million and if so, Wisniewski’s deal can be folded into that extra space. Markov and Gorges in their first year back won’t command what they would have recovering from their knee injuries and after, they’ve been good Habs so they may take hometown discounts that give the Canadiens some breaks there as well.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  43. shiram says:

    You gotta hope that they do for the hometown discount, or else i’m not sure we will see all of Wiznieski, Gorges and Markov.

    And thats only the D, we still need some goal scoring upfront too!

  44. SeriousFan09 says:

    Markov has had his second ACL surgery in less than 8 months, that is a giant warning bell about any player’s ability to return to a high level of play and continue to stand up to the rigors of playing in the NHL. It’s hard to argue for more than a ‘tryout’-style contract for Markov because as much as we all love the guy, one has to wonder if missing 120+ games since the start of 09-10 season due to serious injuries may permanently hinder him physically and reduce his effectiveness as a player. Gorges may get a longer-term deal since he is younger and has been very durable in his career, but I wouldn’t expect more than 2 years and not what he would have been getting at the end of this year on a new deal if his knee finally hadn’t given out.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  45. Ian Cobb says:

    They won’t let us click onto links anymore fly. We have to write it into google I guess.

  46. SeriousFan09 says:

    By 12-13 as well, Habs need to extend Subban, but with Spacek’s contract expiring they get 3.8 million to play with on his deal. For scoring, hopefully Pacioretty remains a piece of the puzzle and we can get some cheap names from the farm like Leblanc and Avtsin to start filling in.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  47. jimmy shaker says:

    Or drop the Wiz, get the cheaper although a couple years older version of the Wiz in MAB, use the money saved for the top 6 forward this team has needed since the big Chad Kilger departed.  I know you’ll like this option seriousfan as we have totally agreed on MAB being a great fit for this team. LOL!


  48. PrimeTime says:

    Can you believe what we stole from them for that #1 wannabe?

  49. notbigbird says:

    Select the link. Click copy (or CTRL+C). Open a new tab (CTRL+T). Paste (CTRL+V). It’s a few steps, but it’s not hard. No typing involved.

  50. punkster says:

    Despicable is he. But I knew that. I could see it in his eyes.


  51. PeterD says:

    Injury problems to key players.

    Since St. Louis is one of Pierre Gauthier’s favourite dance partners that we may be able to pick up some help in a pre-deadline trade.

    Is their anyone on their roster that would make a good and realistic fit into our roster and if so who might we be able to give up for that player(s)?

  52. Duracell3 says:

    Their 3 best D-Men are Brewer, Jackman, and Pietrangelo. Enough said. The don’t play defensively at all, but yet they are 21st in GF, not going to win games that way. They also have a terrible PP, and a very bad PK. Most of the games they won early Halak and Conklin had to steal, they simply can’t do that every night consistently. In fairness a lot of their scoring issue shave been due to injuries and no one to fill in their place.

  53. Duracell3 says:

    7 points in 45 games for a #1 goalie, thats highway robbery.

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