Sadly football season is over for the city of Philadelphia and I would like to extend a warm welcome to those of you who will now tune into our Philadelphia Flyers. Don’t worry if you haven’t watched a lick of hockey all season long, I am here to catch you up. Let’s get started.
First let’s take a look at the team right now:
Currently in the midst of an 8 game road trip the Flyers are 3-0 and take on the Nashville Predators on Saturday. In their last ten games the Flyers are 6-1-3 gaining points in 9 of those 10 games.
Steve Mason is currently injured and could return within the next couple of games. He has been the Flyers best player all season long posting a respectable .921 save percentage. Razor Ray Emery has been alright as a backup but the return of Steve Mason can’t come soon enough. Why the urgency?? Well, our defense is truly terrible. The only standouts this year on the defensive side of the puck are Mark Streit and Nick Schultz (55). Andrew MacDonald, Brayden Coburn, Nick Grossmann, and Luke Schenn are just frustrating to watch. Michael Del Zotto (15) has actually played well but he has been on press box duty lately because Craig Berube is dumb. More on that later!
Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek are in the top five in the league in points and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. The addition of Scott Laughton (Laughts) as second line center has really sparked that line as Wayne Simmonds now has 15 goals and Brayden Schenn has 23 points. Sean Couturier and Matt Read had REALLY slow starts to the season, especially Reader. They seem to have woken up lately breaking out in the 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes two weeks ago. R.J. Umberger does his best impression of a hockey player on that line and fails. The fourth line features Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Pebbles) Chris Vandevelde and Vinny Lecavalier. Don’t be fooled by his recent highlights, Vinny is brutal there is a reason he sat in the press box for 9 straight games (first time in his career he was a healthy scratch) Oh, occasionally Zac Rinaldo plays on that line but he is currently hurt and the team has been playing better. Coincidence? I think not.
The Flyers will make the playoffs. I said it at the beginning of the season and I am sticking to my story. They will get in as a 7 or 8 seed mostly because the east is terrible. With any luck they will play the Penguins in the first round and make it to the second round, if not they will lost a first round series 4-2. Regardless of making the playoffs or not Craig Berube will be fired at seasons end. He has been okay but I get the sense that Hexy wants to bring in his own people and Mike Babcock of the Red Wings is apparently shopping his talents around. If not him, Hexy will have plenty of coaches to pick from in the offseason. 3 teams have already handed their bench over to someone else this season (Ottawa, New Jersey and Edmonton).
Now a sampler of the rest of the NHL:
The Montreal Canadiens come to mind first because I have watched a lot of Habs games this season. They are REALLY good and barring injury they look to be on track to play for the Eastern Conference title. The Penguins are towards the top of the league and have been playing well under new coach Mike Johnston. I refuse to give them any credit until they do something in the playoffs. The Lightning have been getting solid goaltending from Ben Bishop and are playing as one unit. The surprise team here are the New York Islanders. They had a ridiculous November winning 11 out of 14 games. I expect them to level out as the season drags on.
In the West the Ducks and Blackhawks are the talk of the town. The Nashville Predators are also tops in the West under new head coach Peter Laviolette (sound familiar?). The Blues, Kings and Canucks are also all in playoff position in the West. The Calgary Flames have also been playing some good puck and could find themselves in playoff contention near the end of the season.
The Edmonton Oilers are REALLY REALLY REALLY bad. They lost 10 games in a row and fired their head coach. The Carolina Hurricanes and the Arizona Coyotes can also be found at the bottom of the league. The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars have seriously dropped off from where they were last year and the Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils are continually in a slump. The Buffalo Sabres are bad but they have shown signs of improvement so I will spare mocking them.
The Winter Classic game on New Years Day features the Blackhawks and the Capitals at Nationals Park.
Playoff Prediction: The West will once again come down to the Blackhawks and Kings
and I’m going to take the Habs and the Predators for the ECF. The Preds are not in the East. So I will adjust my prediction to say Habs Bruins for the ECF.
Enjoy the rest of the season, and LET’S GO FLYERS!