Better With Popcorn

Philadelphia Flyers 101

On the heels of the streak-busting Flyers well play over the past two weeks, I wanted to put something together with avid Flyers fan; Mr. Hockey (blogger) Anthony Curatolo.
I posted the questions – Anthony will respond and my response will follow.
With Arron Asham out 10-14 days with an injury, who would you like to see called up and why?

AC: Well, I would honestly like to see (David) Laliberte get some ice time in place of Asham. So far this season, Asham has showed that he is more than just an "energy" guy and enforcer type and his offensive production has shown that. With (Ian Laperriere) Lappy, (Riley) Cote and (Dan) Carcillo, I'd like to see the offensive production end of Ashams game replaced. Laliberte will fit that perfectly.
DL: I can’t really argue with you here Ant, Laliberte did more than a justifiable job when called upon. He had three points in four games and was the 20th Flyer in history to record a goal in his first NHL game. I’ve told you this before – Laliberte reminds me a lot of former Flyer, Patrick Sharp. They have the same skill set and bring the same kind of game to the table (when Sharp was here). Unfortunately for Sharp – at the time – he wasn’t going to crack the top-6, even the top-9 so he was moved for relatively nothing. Let’s hope that isn’t the case with Laliberte, although it is glaringly similar. Oh yeah – they both wore #9.
I think GM Paul Holmgren made the right choice right now, but don’t forget Jon Kalinski, Andreas Nodl and some of the more talented prospects in Jon Matsumoto and Patrick Maroon.
What are your thoughts after the Flyers 3-2 win over the Devils:
AC: A few years ago (pre-lockout) the Devils were the Flyers worst nightmare. Then, there was the Danny Markov playoff game winning goal, that in my opinion, turned things around for the Flyers in general. The demons of facing the Devils were gone. Last night, the Flyers were able to get enough pucks on net and get passed the defensive system of the Devils. The 3-2 final was only because of an influx of offense during the final seconds of the game. The Flyers have a very strong club, and the haunting of playing NJ is absolutely obsolete.
DL: I hope Anthony is right, it’s nice to see the Devils fail at making history against the Flyers – they’ve had their fair share in the past. Marty Brodeur’s 100th career shutout – against the Flyers and his 550th win (which broke Bernie Parent’s single season record of 48) against the Flyers. Keep in mind the Flyers took it to the Devils and Broduer earlier in the season in his 1,000th career NHL game.
The Flyers are playing well and they came through when they needed to last night.
Are the Flyers a serious contender? Or is this the same kind of team Flyer fans have seen for the last 25 years?

AC: Honestly Dustin, in my opinion this all depends on the play of Emery and the Denfese. If (Chris) Pronger plays like a top-3 defenseman in this league (as he should be slated), and Coburn steps his game up just a tad (he has been playing much better as of late) I can easily see the Flyers as the team to come out of the East. Depth plays a big factor when it comes to playoffs, and guys like (Darroll) Powe and (Claude) Giroux gained some much needed experience last season. Razor has been to the big dance before, so that is not an issue. It's just up to the team. If they gel, and continue to play the way they have as of late, it is without a question of a doubt the Flyers are headed to the Cup.
DL: I think if you look at this roster on paper, they have to be a serious contender. But we all know the attitude in Philly is ‘what have you done for me lately’. Ultimately, the only way we will be able to see if this team is different, is what they do in the Playoffs. They have the players – it comes down to Ray Emery and who’s playing their best hockey in spring ’10.
Will Ray Emery be re-signed in Philadelphia?
AC: When we had Chuck Gormley on the show, we discussed the problem of not having a "young" goalie in the system. Razor is 27 years YOUNG. Sure, it is bothersome that he could be playing off his rocker right now for contract purposes, but I think there is a lot more at hand here. At 27 years old, a deep playoff run could mean a hefty raise for Emery, but I feel he will respect the fact that Homer and company has given the opportunity for Emery to play again in the NHL. He will most likely re-sign a 3 year $3.5 per year deal (hopefully) and then you have time to worry about goaltending youth and issues within the system. He has been a pleasant surprise this year, and I sure am glad he was signed to be our guy!
DL: I think Hextall Jr. has already proven in this young season that he is worth a new contract.
Emery ranks – 5th in the league in wins with 11, 6th in the league in save percentage at .923% and 7th in the league in goals-against-average at 2.22.
But quite frankly, that scares the hibbie-jibbies out of me. Only time will tell what lies in the future of Emery and Philadelphia; and that’s scary.
If you could change one thing with this team, what would it be?

AC: John Stevens. I just feel he is more suited for AHL level coaching, or a different type of system. He is too monotone and robotic behind the bench. This team needs a fiery guy (i.e. Peter Laviolette). I know we have discussed this plenty in the past Dustin, but I think you agree with me here!
DL: I do agree with you, big-time. But it’s really hard to justify right now. They’ve played the fewest games in the Eastern Conference and are currently the 5th seed, just five points behind the number one seed.
I do not like Stevens approach and more often than not I don’t think the Flyers are ready to play, however, I will tell you this; winning fixes everything. If Stevens can somehow keep this team motivated he is fine behind the bench, but if they lose, he is the first man to go.
If I could change one thing – without a doubt I would find some way to keep Claude Giroux and center and get him top-6 type minutes. Some way, somehow – it needs to be done. He is a natural center and one of the best playmakers on the team.