The Flyers need a better backup goalie

After a sub-par season from Ray Emery where he posted a GAA of 3.06 and a SV% of .894 it’s time for someone else to take over the backup role.

via JustSports Photography

Rob Zepp via JustSports Photography

Assuming Emery and the Flyers part ways, the next goaltender in the organization is 33 year old Rob Zepp. Zepp played in 10 games this season for the Flyers, including 9 starts, where he went 5-2-0 with a .888SV% and a 2.89GAA. While he did look good in some of his starts like in his debut vs Winnipeg and both his games against the Capitals, he ended the season on a sour note. After losing 4-1 to Hurricanes, he got pulled in his next game against the Maple Leafs where he allowed 2 soft goals in the first 25 minutes of the game. So, where Zepp ranks in Hextall’s head in yet to be seen, but there are probably some better options outside the organization that should be explored before the season begins.

UFA Goaltenders

The only goalie that looks like a starter in this league is Antti Niemi and there’s no reason to believe the Flyers would go after a “big name” guy like him who’s going to be looking for a big contract, with our current cap situation. With that said, they could bring in a guy like Anders Lindback, Richard Bachman, or even Viktor Fasth. Fasth, 32, is interesting to me because he’s shown moments of greatness when he first joined the Anaheim Ducks back in the 12-13′ season where he went 15-6-2 posting a .921SV% and a 2.18GAA. The following season he got injured, and later traded to Edmonton where he seemed to lose most, if not all, his confidence. Coming off a 6-15-3 season with the Oilers where his save percentage was the same as Zepp (.888), he will be looking for another opportunity to prove himself. His current cap hit is $2,900,000 but that should drastically drop should he find a new team this Summer, and maybe that could be here in Philadelphia.

Out of League Options

The Flyers could also go search out of the NHL to find someone, like how they found Rob Zepp. It’s hard to look at just the numbers they put up and think it will translate to the NHL but sometimes it works out, like Sergei Bobrovsky, for example. Gustaf Wesslau is an option that was brought up by @MikeyD_OandBP a week or so ago.

Another name that could pop up is Nicklas Treutle. Treutle, 23, is an undrafted goalie who most recently played for the Munich EHC of the DEL going 20-10-0 with a save percentage of .923. Back when Ron Hextall still worked for the Los Angeles Kings, there was a report that the Kings had been scouting Treutle to potentially sign him but for whatever reason it didn’t work. You have to think Hextall will be taking another look at him and now that he has the final say, who knows what he thinks.

Trading

While a trade isn’t exactly the best way to bring in a backup goalie, it could still be the route the Flyers take. The Chicago Blackhawks seem like they have 3 NHL caliber goaltenders and with Darling’s new contract, it’ possible that Antti Raanta could be available. The 25 year old Finnish goaltender lost the backup job to Scott Darling despite going 7-4-1 with a .936 save percentage. When he was sent down to the Rockford Ice Hogs of the AHL, he was just as successful as you’d expect, going 8-1-1. His trade value is high and it might not be worth it to bring him in as a backup. Another trade option could be Igor Bobkov, a former 3rd round pick who is currently with the Anaheim Ducks. Bobkov originally was looked at as a promising prospect for the Ducks but as of late has had some trouble even staying in the AHL and spent most of this season in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies. Bobkov would be a risk for sure, but when we acquired Steve Mason it was also called a risk. I’m not suggesting Bobkov could do what Mason has done for us, but it is something that could work great here.

Bringing in a capable goalie should be high on Hextall’s to-do list this Summer, and if I had to choose, I’d be swaying the options between signing a goalie not currently playing in North America, or gambling on Bobkov because let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone is expecting a deep playoff run from this team next year.

Bye Bye Berube

In his first full season as head coach, Craig Berube made odd lineup decisions, scratched players that shouldn’t have been scratched, criticized players that he didn’t use correctly and fumbled around with every aspect of coaching.

Inconsistency has been an issue with the Flyers since before Berube stepped in as coach, but he did nothing to stabilize the team’s overall performance. When a coach loses his locker room and a new coach comes in, that coach is supposed to take hold and re-energize his players, bring out the best in them. The problem with Berube taking over for Peter Laviolette was that Berube was a part of that staff that had already lost the players. Besides being unable to properly motivate his players, Berube constantly caused tension in the locker room with his misuse of players.

The beginning of the end may have been the departure of the Flyers long time goaltending coach Jeff Reese. After forcing Mason to play soon after returning from a knee injury and before he had a chance to feel 100%, Reese and the organization “mutually parted ways”. After Reese’s departure, the relationship between Mason and Berube seemed to break down for a few games.

At the exit interviews, some of the more annoyed players showed their true colors when asked about Berube. Others had weak endorsements for the coach, but when asked if they thought he’d be back next season, most said “we’ll see what happens”. Berube also put the final nail in his own coffin with his comments about players like Steve Mason and mostly Sean Couturier.

On Wednesday, Ron Hextall said they were still making the decision on what to do with Berube. Two days later the decision is made Berube is out and the hunt for a new Flyers coach begins.

 

 

 

Flyers fans, pick your poison.

The Flyers exit interviews on Monday sure gave us a lot to think about. We learned that Steve Mason and Ryan White are either delusional or being blackmailed by Craig Berube, while other players are a bit more vocal about their issues with how the coach has used them on the ice.

The loudest complaints came from frequent healthy scratch, Vincent Lecavalier. It does sound like Lecavalier is dead set on fulfilling at least one of Flyers fans dreams because he is now saying that if Berube is in Philadelphia, he doesn’t want to be.

image originally from Fansided.com

image originally from Fansided.com

“He’s got his views and he showed that,” he said. “I think 17 or 18 games, I was scratched, so it’s going to be tough to change his mind. But we’ll see what happens.” Lecavalier told media after his brief interview with Berube.  Although he did eventually find some success on a fourth line that included Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellamare, Lecavalier was never given a lot of ice time and was scratched whenever possible. The breaking up of that fourth line was met with some confusion and protest from fans after Berube’s constant line shuffling had led to multiple effective lines being broken up and no one line being able to develop good chemistry with each other, but it may have just been Berube trying to lessen Lecavalier’s role even more.

Lecavalier has definitely seen a drop in production with less ice time, 12:39 as opposed to 15:11 last season and a change from Center (his “natural” position) to right winger. However, Berube has used players like Michael Del Zotto, who had a resurgent season after being scratched for a number of games early in the season, as examples of what he expects a player to do after being scratched. “That’s what we’re looking for,” Berube said. “If I sit a guy out . . . when he gets back in the lineup, I expect him to be better. It’s called mental toughness.” That lthought may be a bit confusing coming from Berube, because it shows a logical reasoning for benching players from a coach that seemed to make moves based on spinning a giant wheel. Maybe it’s not a completely solid theory, but when looking at Del Zotto and even short bursts of Lecvalier’s season it seems to make some sense. What doesn’t make sense is how Berube could have any type of sound logic while also making some pretty ridiculous comparisons between Sean Couturier and Patrice Bergeron.

Lecavalier has expressed his desire to stay in Philadelphia telling interviewers, “the guys in that room are pretty solid, and it would be great to be a part of something with them, for sure,” but not if it means dealing with Craig Berube for another season. “The fans are great, the organization is great, living here is [great]. My wife and my kids absolutely love it here, … But, yeah, things did change when Chief came on board.”

So there are a couple of options. The first and possibly simplest being Craig Berube getting the boot. We might do better without Chief’s uh, unorthodox line combination strategy and confusing comparisons and misuse of players, but then the Flyers would still be stuck with Lecavalier’s painful contract. Who knows under a new system Lecavalier might have a Del Zotto like resurgence, or he may be just as ineffective as ever.

The second, and maybe a bit far fetched, the Flyers could find a team willing to take Lecavalier. Of course the Flyers would probably have to retain some of his salary, but would it be worth getting rid of him? That would also mean Berube is staying for at least another year to finish out his existing contract. A variation of this option, which Sam Carchidi seems to think is the only way to rid the Flyers of Lecavalier, would be for the Flyers to buy out Vinny and let him find another team himself or retire.

The final option could be that nothing happens. Vinny doesn’t get traded and Berube doesn’t get fired. That would mean a lot of issues for next season and maybe one of the two is out of town next season, but for now it’s still possible that they both return.

 

So pick your poison fans. Who would you rather the Flyers keep? Do you want Berube to stick around for another season, or do you want Lecavalier to get another chance with a new coach?

 

 

Reviewing Craig Berube’s comments

Craig Berube said some rather shocking things in his latest interview today, including suggesting Sean Couturier is making excuses and needs to be more like Patrice Bergeron.

photo via philly.com

photo via philly.com

Both fans and media personnel have been questioning the security of Berube’s job for awhile now, but now he’s just digging himself a deeper hole with his recent comments towards forwards Vincent Lecavalier and more importantly, Sean Couturier. After Couturier mentioned earlier today that he doesn’t want to be known as just a defensive specialist and more-so known for a strong two-way game, Berube fired back saying that he is “creating excuses” for his lack of offensive production. He then went on about how Patrice Bergeron succeeds in the same role Couturier is placed in but the problem there is that it just simply is not true. Bergeron received 109 more (5v5) offensive zone starts this season than Couturier and is also on Boston’s top powerplay unit. Couturier got little powerplay time and when he did it was on the second unit with the likes of RJ Umberger (9 goals) and Matt Read (8 goals). Neither of which are even close to the same caliber players Bergeron plays with. Even with all that, Couturier ends the season with just 9 less even strength points than Bergeron. Berube then suggested that he is not getting too many defensive zone starts and that it is “his job”. It may be his job to shutdown the opposing star players but to expect a 50 point season with it is a little far-fetched. Not only is he getting tougher usage 5v5 than Bergeron, he’s also averaging over 40 seconds more shorthanded time on ice per game than Bergeron. Couturier saw 687 defensive zone starts this season which is 7th among forwards, all of which are older than Couturier who is still just 22 years old.

So with his comments earlier this season about Steve Mason needing to fight through the screens and be better, followed by saying Couturier not getting offensive starts is making excuses, is it time for the Flyers to say goodbye to Berube? I’d say so, and so does Vincent Lecavalier who basically said this morning that he doesn’t want to play here if he remains the coach.

Brandon Manning signs 1 year deal with Flyers

The Flyers have announced that they have signed defenseman Brandon Manning to a one year contract extension.

photo via zimbio.com

photo via nhl.com

Manning, 24, has played in 20 NHL games throughout his career, and 10 this season. He’s been earning the coach’s trust over his recent call up where he is averaging just about 17 minutes of ice time per game. This means the Flyers now have 7 defenseman under contract for the start of next season and that is not including RFA d-man Michael Del Zotto. Manning’s deal comes with a small cap hit of just $625k which is a nice change compared to the other pricey top 6 defenseman we have.

Hot Takes of the Month

The Flyers season is in its twilight and has been pretty meaningless for a while now. With no playoff story lines to write about, there are some Philly reporters whose imaginations have started to run on overdrive which has provided us fans some of the most controversial and steaming hot takes that we’ve seen in a couple years.

Steve Mason: Good not Great.

In the last few games of the season, it seems like the Flyers have be reveling in their role as season spoilers against teams still playing for the playoffs. Their proudest achievement, beating the Penguins twice in one week to sweep the season series against Pittsburgh and put the Penguins post season in jeopardy.

In Sunday’s game against the Penguins, Steve Mason made 46 saves on 47 shots. A huge factor in the Flyers Sunday win was Mason’s stellar goaltending, keeping his team alive after they allowed 21 shots in the first period alone. Mike Milbury didn’t think much of Mason’s performance that night, or all season for that matter. During the first period intermission, fans were assaulted with a large graphic that read “STEVE MASON GOOD NOT GREAT.”  At that point in the season, Mason had a .928 save percentage which puts him in the company of Carey Price, Pekka Rinne and Henrik Lundqvist, but no one’s calling those other names “good not great” and those are goaltenders who don’t have the Flyers defense in front of them. Milbury also called Mason a “run-of-the-mill” goaltender who would never be a franchise goalie. We could go on all night about how Mason’s stats could be ridiculous level if he had a better defense in front of him or even some goal support through the season, but those are all things that Flyers fans have a natural understanding of. And if you really want a long list of reasons why Mike Milbury just shouldn’t be taken seriously at all go read Bill Meltzer’s criticisms. Basically, Mike Milbury isn’t a person who can evaluate talent very well.

To add frustration to this hot takery, Mason isn’t getting any Vezina consideration despite being Jesus reincarnated to live out his hockey playing dreams.

So that’s jalapeno hot take number one. Steve mason is average at best and they’d probably do better with Emery as the starter, is what I’m assuming was Milbury’s point.

who cares about milbury

Trade Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.

You all know you’ve been thinking it, but Marcus Hayes just has the balls to say it, the only option left for the Flyers that makes any damn sense at all? Trading Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux. Now to be a little bit fair this hot take does seem to be more in the spirit of saving the Flyers power couple from wasting their golden years on a team whose top choices for defense couldn’t really play effectively at the bantam level. He even delves into the “Giroux shouldn’t be captain” territory, but rather than blame Giroux’s lack of skill he puts a bit of the blame on critical media and fans, only for a second before citing Giroux’s lack of 5-on-5 goals this season as a prime example of the captaincy being a burden, but that doesn’t make this take any less likely to set your house on fire.

Hayes didn’t have an idea who they could be traded for because really who cares? If you’re trading away Giroux and Voracek the only players people might be interested in getting in return would be… well I was going to say Crosby and Malkin, but we’ve already seen the reaction to those rumors…

flyer crosby

 

But in skill level there really isn’t a pair of players that the Flyers could realistically get back. That opens up a line of questioning to the fans, what would you accept in exchange for Giroux and Voracek or even one of the pair; what could the Flyers possible look for in exchange for the heart of their core?

As hot as that Take is, it’s not exactly out of the blue for the Flyers. Do the names Mike Richards and Jeff Carter sound familiar to you? The Flyers all star duo, the heart of the core, traded away after being continually reassured that they would be in Philly for a long time. They even got huge contracts shortly before being shipped out of the city. So it’s possible that Hayes is preparing us for some painful Deja vu. In fact I’ll throw some lighter fluid on that hot take and also suggest that they go completely 2011-2012 and also trade away either Wayne Simmonds or Michael Raffl to be this incarnations JVR.

What’s hottest about this take is that Hayes seems to assume that the Flyers are in complete rebuild mode when they clearly are not. With just minor tweaks to the lineup, the Flyers have dominated some of the best teams in the league, the only issue still plaguing them (besides bad players with long turd contracts) is the inability to beat bottom feeder teams. With solid defensive prospects developing at a solid rate and a pretty strong core that only needs a few additions, the Flyers are nowhere near rebuild territory.

Feel free to add your own hot takes or any that may have been looked over.

 

The Flyers Beat the Islanders; Brayden Schenn is the Hero

Flyers beat the New York Islanders in the final seconds 5-4. Steve Mason was “good not great” saving 36 of 40 shots and Claude Giroux nearly had his first hat trick with two goals in the first period.

The Flyers always seem to get it together against better teams. Like clockwork tonight, they did just that. With a win tonight, the Islanders would have clinched a playoff spot. Thanks to the Flyers, that won’t happen tonight.

The first goal of the night was a power play goal scored by Claude Giroux. The slapshot, which beat Halak stick side, was assisted by Streit and Voracek. The second goal of the period also came from Giroux. This time the goal beat Halak glove side. Streit and Voracek were credited with the helpers again.

In the second period, the Islanders struck first. Tavares scored the power play goal off of a tip in. Strome and Leddy were given credit for the assists. The only other goal of the second period was an even strength redirect from Bellemare. Lecavalier and Grossmann assisted.

The third period would start with a goal from Colaiacovo. The wrist shot came off of a beautiful pass from Rinaldo. The secondary assist was given to Manning. Anders Lee cut the Flyers lead in half off of a wrist shot assisted by Bailey and Visnovsky. Boychuk’s slapshot brought the Islanders within one.

The Islanders had the extra attacker once Halak went to the bench. With only 28 seconds remaining, Lee tied the game. The wrister came off of a pass from Tavares. The Flyers would answer 25 seconds later. Brayden Schenn scored the game winner. The shot, which was assisted by Couturier and Streit, beat Halak five-hole.

Steve Mason stopped 36 of 40 shots. The Flyers won 32 faceoffs, and were one for five on the power play. Mark Streit’s two assists helped him reach the 50 point mark. The Flyers will host the Hurricanes on Thursday.

Extras:

  • Mark Streit is the first Flyers defenseman to reach the 50 point mark since Chris Pronger.
  • Giroux was kept from getting his first career hat trick after scoring 2 goals in the first despite his team trying to set him up all game.
  • Jake Voracek moved into second place in the NHL scoring race and was tied with John Tavares after Tavares’ goal.
  • Voracek could have moved ahead if he had not missed the empty net late in the game.