Flight Plan: Buckle Up and Buckle Down

Image courtesy of Amy Irvin of 38Photography

Last week was a rough week. The Philadelphia Flyers lost a game in which they carried a 2-0 lead into the third period over the Anaheim Ducks, became the laughing stock of the entire NHL in a game against the Washington Capitals when they were blown out by a score of 7-0, and won a game 1-0 against the New Jersey Devils.

I’d like to touch on the events of November 1st. This team needed something. I’m not of the school of thought that fighting in hockey is a bad thing. I think it’s great for the game, especially because while it doesn’t necessarily keep everyone in line, or anyone in line, it does allow for a release during an extremely frustrating game. If there was no fighting, I believe there would be more injuries incurred through hard, illegal checks because there isn’t that release. That being said, while I think that Ray Emery’s heart was in the right place, and his frustration was understandable, he shouldn’t have gone and mugged Braden Holtby. At the same time, we often forget that professional athletes are, in fact, human beings. Emery was probably frustrated by the lack of starts, his inability to stop the puck in the starts he has had, his team losing big, and how they continuously hang their netminders out to dry.  Was it embarrassing? Sure. Was it wrong? Sure. But what we saw Friday was a man whose emotions got the better of him. It just so happens that cameras were rolling and it was during a sporting event. That’s it. There’s no reason to vilify someone or the sport or the league based on their handling of a single event in which nothing happened out of the ordinary. Frankly, if you don’t like fighting in the game then you’re better off speaking to what happened to both newly acquired Steve Downie and offseason acquisition Vincent Lecavalier than what occurred between Emery and Holtby. Either way, the Flyers need to start buckling down or everyone will need to buckle up for what will be another extremely bumpy ride to the bottom of the standings.

Now, let’s get back to previewing these games for the week. The Flyers have three games this week: one against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, and the next two contests at home against the Devils and the Edmonton Oilers. Picking up tickets for these games is easy, just go to tiqiq.com (http://www.tiqiq.com/nhl/philadelphia-flyers-tickets/?publisherid=1260333).

Carolina Hurricanes on 11.05.2013 at 7:30PM in Raleigh

The Carolina Hurricanes are sitting in the fifth slot in the Metropolitan Division. They hold just a three point lead on the Flyers in the standings, and have played one more game. They also hold a 1-0-0 lead in the season series between the two clubs. The ‘Canes are a quick team, but have lost their starting goaltender Cam Ward for the next 3-4 weeks and have had to rely on Justin Peters largely in his absence. Peters owns a 0-5-0 record, a 3.49 GAA, and a .890 SV%. Anton Khudobin figured to be the starter, but has been out of the lineup with a leg injury, which must be worse than originally thought as he was supposed to return after a week on injured reserve. He won the first meeting between the Flyers and Hurricanes as he allowed just one goal in a 2-1 win. Khudobin is 2-0-0 on the year, with a 2.00 GAA, and a .944 SV%.  They are coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Unsurprisingly, Jeff Skinner is at the top of the Carolina leaderboard with nine points (3g, 6a). Captain Eric Staal is just behind him with eight points (3g, 5a). Alex Semin (3g, 4a), defenseman Andrej Sekera (2g, 5a), and Nathan Gerbe (4g, 3a) all have seven points on the year. If the ‘Canes can get their other offensive weapons going, they’ll be a really tough team to play against, but they’re having similar issues to the Flyers in terms of putting the puck in the net on a consistent basis. Whoever can win the 5-on-5 battle will likely win this game.

New Jersey Devils on 11.07.2013 at 7:00PM in Philadelphia

The Flyers were able to keep the also offensively-challenged Devils off the scoreboard as they beat them by the slimmest of margins, 1-0. The Devils have just two more points than the Flyers in the standings and have scored five more goals than the Flyers on the year. The Devils have also allowed one more goal than the Flyers this year. The Devils are still led by former-Flyer Jaromir Jagr as he has 10 points on the year (3g, 7a). Defenseman Marek Zidlicky is just behind him with nine points (1g, 8a), and both Patrik Elias (3g, 4a), and Damien Brunner (4g, 3a) have seven points. Centers Adam Henrique (4g-1a-5p) and Travis Zajac (1g-3a-4p) have yet to get going. The Devils had been receiving good goaltending from both Cory Schneider until he exacerbated a lower body injury that he was apparently dealing with during a shootout against the Vancouver Canucks. Schneider to that point has been terrific in net, going 1-3-2, with a 2.14 GAA, and a .915 SV%. Martin Brodeur has had to step back into a starting role with the team and has played well. In his seven starts he is 2-3-2, with a 2.68 GAA, and a .888 SV%. The Devils didn’t score on the power play, despite being fairly efficient as they’ve converted on 19.2% of their opportunities this year. This game is likely to be won and lost during even strength as well, unless the Flyers power play can get going.

Edmonton Oilers on 11.09.2013 at 1:00PM in Philadelphia

The Edmonton Oilers are 3-10-2 on the year, have scored 36 goals, and allowed 59. They are a young, fast team, but haven’t been able to keep the puck out of their net and because of that, they sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division with eight points. They have a ton of talent up front starting with their leading scorers Jordan Eberle (3g, 7a), Mark Arcobello (10a), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4g, 6a) who each have 10 points on the year. Offseason acquisition David Perron has nine points (2g, 7a). Defenseman Justin Schultz has seven points (1g, 6a) and Ales Hemsky has six points (3g, 3a). Taylor Hall had been off to a good start with eight points (3g, 5a) in nine games before going out with a knee injury in a game against the Ottawa Senators. This is another team that hasn’t been particularly effective on the power play as they are currently operating at a 12.2% clip, so it would appear that the winner of this game will be decided during 5-on-5 play.