Category Archives: Hockey

Talk About An Underdog

The Flyers, of course, are in the Eastern Conference Finals, the third of four rounds in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  ESPN, for the playoffs, has Barry Melrose and the other experts chiming in on who they thought would win each round.

In the first round, everyone picked the Capital to topple the Flyers, except John Buccigross, who held the solitary correct pick for the round.

In round two, Barry Melrose gave the Flyers their kiss of death, as he alone picked them to advance over the Canadiens.  Amazingly, everyone but Barry was wrong, and the Flyers now face the Penguins.

So, after getting no respect for two rounds, you’d think a couple people would come around, especially after the Flyers had shown themselves up to the task against the Penguins in the regular season.

Well, no dice:

Well, screw all you guys.

ESPN: Flyers Are Toast

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The Dangers of Youth in Goaltending

So, as the Flyers finished off the Canadiens last night, 6-4 (and in an outstanding game, no less), I gave thought to young Carey Price, Montreal’s 20 year old netminder.  I wondered, specifically, about how he’d rebound from being so excellent during the regular season, and so disappointing during the playoffs.  It was clear that Price looked rattled in his last two games of the postseason, games 3 and 5 against the Flyers, letting in soft goals, and being out of position too frequently.

I wondered if there was a history of young goalies allowing their shellackings to get the better of them, and within a few years, they fall out of the league.  I know this is, more or less, exactly what happened to Jim Carey of the Washington Capitals a few years ago.  In 1994-95, the 20 year old Carey (Jim, that is) played 28 games for the Caps and won 18 of them, posting a 2.13 GAA.  In the playoffs, he couldn’t handle the pressure though, and was tuned to a tune of a 4.19 GAA.  The next season, in 71 games, Carey had 35 wins, a 2.26 GAA, and led the NHL with 9 shutouts.  But, come the playoffs, this 21 year-old was festooned with 10 goals in only 3 games, a 6.19 GAA.

That was the end of Carey’s time as a regular in the NHL.  He was traded the next season, only played 10 games the year after that, and only 4 the year after that.  And then, he was gone.  I was curious if this is common among such young netminders thrust into such taxing circumstances.  But, alas, I have no idea how to find such information.  Hockey-Reference.com is lovely, but doesn’t yet have the Plax Index feature that it’s older brother (Baseball-Reference.com)  boasts.

Thankfully, there’s James Mirtle:

Outside of Patrick Roy, there’s just not much of a track record of success from netminders as young as Price. In the modern era, post-Original Six, only 19 netminders have played in a postseason game at age 20 or younger, and only Roy has won more than six games. Eight finished with a goals against above 3.90, a group that puts Price in good company: Martin Brodeur, Grant Fuhr, Tom Barrasso, Don Beaupre, Roland Melanson and Bill Ranford all went onto great careers after early playoff disappointments.

I’m still expecting big things out of Price.

So, from what Mirtle says (and there’s plenty of reason to think Mirtle knows, more or less, what he’s talking about), we can anticipate, and dread, Carey Price coming back for many years to come to dog the Flyers in the playoffs.

For now, though, we can just sit back and look forward to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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A Stupefying Loss

We may be moping around after the Flyers were cheated out of a win last night by the referees, but even our disappointment cannot compare to that of young goaltender Michael Leighton:

The Phantoms set franchise records for shots by beating host Albany, 3-2, in a staggering fifth overtime in the longest American Hockey League game ever played. The Phantoms took an even more staggering 101 shots to obliterate their previous playoff record of 64.

The shot that counted came from Ryan Potulny 2 minutes, 58 seconds into the fifth OT to give the Phantoms a three-games-to-two lead in the AHL East semifinal series.

River Rats goaltender Michael Leighton stopped a stupefying 98 shots. And lost!

The marathon was the first AHL game ever to reach a fifth overtime. The previous record was 114 minutes, 56 seconds (74:56 of overtime) on May 30, 2003, when Hamilton beat Houston, 2-1.

Game 6 is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. tomorrow at the Wachovia Center.

For the unitiated, the average goaltender sees about 30 shots a game, and still lets in about 3 of them.  That’s a hard luck loss right there.  After 100 shots, I imagine he was just damn tired.

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Thursday Night Marauding

What to do tonight?  Find your favorite pub with TVs, and watch the Flyers take on the Habs in Game 1.  We’ll be getting our first taste of the new Memphis Taproom.

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October!

Dane Cook, who is a hack, is on my television frequently lately, telling me that there is only one October.  I have no idea what the hell this is supposed to mean, but I ignore it as I ignore all the ramblings of celebrities and other lunatics. 

October is, easily, my favorite part of the sports year (for the record, March is a strong second place).  Here’s why:

Baseball is in its playoffs.  Now the baseball playoffs have a lot of problems, and it is somewhat crazy to reduce the marathon grind of the MLB regular season to a bunch of Best of 7 series to determine a “champion”.  Honestly, I truly believe that either the Cleveland Indians or the Boston Red Sox are the best team in the league, and that we won’t necessarily know any more about who’s “best” when their series is over than we do now.  And no, I would not be saying this if the Phillies were still in the playoffs.  At least, I wouldn’t be saying it yet.  Regardless, despite the plethora of problems with the way the MLB runs its postseason, I still compulsively enjoy watching it. 

Football season doesn’t start until October.  Now, personally, my interest in football is on a rapid decline over the past couple of years–especially this year.  However, for those of you who do care, you all know, September isn’t going to tell you too much about a given team.  By the end of October, we’ll know who is who. 

HOCKEY.  Hockey is back.  Oh, God, hockey is back. 

I love hockey.  I love the Flyers.  I love the rough and rowdy players who are mostly out there to give and receive concussions.  I love the little speedy guys who try to avoid contact.  I like watching it on TV, and I love watching it live. 

In the picture up there, from left to right, is Joffrey Lupul (1 goal last night), Mike Richards (2 goals last night) and Daniel Briere (1 goal last night).  The Flyers humiliated the Vancouver Canucks in an 8-2 rout, with goals from Briere, Richards, Lupul, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, RJ Umberger, and Mike Knuble. 

Last year the Flyers were the dregs of the league.  I don’t know if they’re good enough to head back to the top this year, but, so far, they look like a lot of fun to watch. 

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Blue Collar Guy

It seems as though everyone, excluding Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner realize that in no sport can you have a championship team composed entirely of superstars. The New York Yankees have, for a number of years, had t;e largest payroll in baseball by a considerable margin without winning a championship since 2000. Attributed to this issue have been a number of causes, most popularly the idea that manager Joe Torre has lost “it”; that Steinbrenner, Cashman and co. have overvalued mediocre starting pitching, that the Yankees have lost interest in bullpen depth, that Joe Torre is now killing his setup men, and the list can go on. After all, it’s New York, and the Yankees are not to be taken lightly.

Mr Thursday, however, holds to a different theory. Namely, the Blue Collar Theory of Champions which notes that the Yankees have abandoned the Scott Brosius’ of the world. Their 2000 team possessed, in addition to a number of perennial all-stars, guys like Scott Brosius as their primary hot corner defender, Ricky Ledee playing more games in left field than anyone else on the squad, and similarly Shane Spenser taking a bulk of the designated hitting duty. In 2001, Brosius remained, and though still productive at 34, battled injuries throughout the year. David Justice, a perennial all-star had taken over as number 1 DH, Ricky Ledee wandered off to Texas, and was replaced Chuck Knoblauch, a perennial all-star. His former position, second base, was taken by future perennial all-star, and current Chicago Cub/gazillionaire, Alfonso Soriano. The Yankees no longer had players who could be relied on to do the little things, whether it was leaning into a fastball in a tight game, trying to break up a double play, or laying down a bunt. They were a collection of all-stars, and this was the beginning of the end for them.

Now, while all-star games are, mostly, meaningless exhibitions, Mr. Thursday came across a cause worth backing, thanks to Deadspin today. A number of lovely hockey fanatics have taken up the cause of getting Rory Fitzpatrick, a Vancouver Canucks defensemen, voted into this year’s all-star game. You’ll have to trust our judgment, Rory is hockey’s version of Ricky Ledee. He’s the kind of guy who never sees glory, hardly ever makes headlines, and while playing he doesn’t dazzle anyone with anything but his work ethic. That said, he does the little things–backchecking, making outlet passes, etc. He’s the kind of player every winning team needs. We don’t contend that he’s a secretly phenomenal player, but every team needs at least one guy like him.

So, everyone here at Mr. Thursday will be going to Vote For Rory, every day, and doing what we can to close the 200,000 vote game between Rory and Scott “Douchebag” Neidermeyer, up there in first place in the voting so far.

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