Flyers play it safe, will start Steve Mason in Game 4 against Rangers

Steve Mason

One Pennsylvania team will get a goalie change in their next playoff game.

flyerstweet-mason

The Philadelphia Flyers, trailing the New York Rangers 2-1 in their first round series, will turn to their regular starter Steve Mason in Game 4. Mason, who missed the final few games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, returned to the bench to back up Ray Emery in Game 3 and played the final 7:15 after Emery was pulled in the 4-1 loss.

Overall, Emery hasn’t been bad for the Flyers in this series. The team in front of him has been one of the worst possession lineups in the playoffs so far – better than only Los Angeles (down 3-0), Tampa Bay (swept), and Colorado (the anomalous one). Of the six goals Emery allowed in Games 1 and 2, half were on the power play. And through those first two games, Emery had a .913 save percentage. That’s not a bad performance at all – Emery even deserves most of the credit for Philadelphia’s only win in the series. Read more

Bruins’ Marchand, Blueshirts’ Carcillo add color to playoffs with their cartoonish villainy

Brad Marchand (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs hasn’t ended, but we’ve already seen a little bit of everything, including high-scoring games, low-scoring games, dirty hits and a series sweep. But the post-season is always more fun when fans have an old-fashioned villain on whom they can focus their disgust. And this year, they’ve got a couple gems who are so proudly roguish, they might as well twirl their moustaches while cackling with glee: Boston’s Brad Marchand and the Rangers’ Daniel Carcillo.

Carcillo and Marchand are arguably the NHL’s most talented agitators. Both willingly wear the hate of the opposition and their fans. And both were in prime rabble-rousing form Tuesday night. Marchand absorbed a knee-on-knee hit to his left knee and came up favoring his right leg, drawing criticism from fans and media who accused him of faking an injury.


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Dan Carcillo scores and has hilarious stare down with Philadelphia fans

Dan Carcillo

Professional antagonist Dan Carcillo didn’t play in either of the first two games for New York against Philadelphia, but we’re sure glad Rangers coach Alain Vigneault dressed him for Game 3 in Philadelphia.

Carcillo, who’s played 33 of his 38 career playoff games in a Flyers uniform, had taken a hooking penalty midway through the third period when his Rangers led 3-1. It set the table for the Flyers to get back into it, but after they failed to convert on the man advantage, Carcillo increased the lead to three – and rubbed the city of Philadelphia’s face in it.

There is just so much hate to love in this clip: Read more

Can Flyers keep relying on Emery?

Jason Kay
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers - Game One

Like the boxers he so much admires, Ray Emery has pulled himself off the mat and given the Philadelphia Flyers a chance, maybe even a good one, of succeeding in their first round series against the New York Rangers.

While Emery wasn’t solely to blame for Philly’s Game 1 egg in Manhattan, he didn’t help. Sure the offense was non-existent, the team took undisciplined penalties and their overall compete level was too flat.

But Emery failed to come up with big saves in the third period when he was most needed as the Rangers exposed a flaw in his game: diminished lateral movement.

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Bruins, Avs dominate my NHL Awards picks

Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Once again, I’m privileged enough to receive a ballot for the NHL’s annual individual player awards. It’s a huge honor for any hockey journalist and one I think deserves the respect of full transparency to the public. If we’re supposed to represent the fans, we owe it to them to reveal and stand behind our choices – choices I make after numerous discussions with NHL executives and players.

So here are my picks, along with some brief thoughts on why I chose the players I did for the five awards. You probably won’t agree with all of them, but the last thing these honors are about is pure consensus.

HART TROPHY (“to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”) — Five selections.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
4. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
5. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

The Rationale: As I’ve noted in the past, I’ve come to see the Hart as a most valuable player award, if only because the concept of “value” is so nebulous. But certainly, Crosby’s value to the Penguins – especially during Pittsburgh’s injury-plagued season – cannot be questioned. Nor can his status as the game’s best all-around individual force. Getzlaf was a very close second, while Giroux got the nod over Bergeron because he was the catalyst in Philadelphia’s remarkable season-saving turnaround. Read more

Andrew MacDonald’s six-year, $30 million extension leaves Flyers little room to improve defense

Rory Boylen
Andrew MacDonald

Unless the Philadelphia Flyers sign another defenseman for more than $5 million this summer, Andrew MacDonald will be the second-highest paid blueliner on their roster next season.

MacDonald’s freshly signed six-year, $30 million extension with the Flyers isn’t a bad deal on its own. He’s a shutdown, shot-blocking defender who plays 21-plus minutes a game in the NHL and the salary cap will be on the way up this summer. But when you add the investment in MacDonald to the other commitments Philadelphia has made on the blueline, it becomes troubling.

First of all, analytics aren’t friendly to MacDonald, who has a negative Corsi relative percentage (meaning his team is better when he’s off the ice) despite being strong within his own zone. Kevin Christmann of Broad Street Hockey had an excellent breakdown on how MacDonald’s iffy neutral zone play negatively impacts these stats. But there’s no denying the Flyers defenseman is effective within his own zone, specializing in shot blocking. This would suggest MacDonald is a serviceable player to have on the roster, but one who had been thrust into a bigger role than he’s qualified for, both with the Islanders and Flyers. And now Philadelphia, a team with defense concerns, will lock him into that role by paying him as a top two or three blueliner for the next six seasons. Read more

Stanley Cup playoff preview: Round 1

Stanley Cup

Welcome to the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and the beginning of a new format. No longer will teams be seeded from 1-8 in their conference, but instead will have to play out of their division first. Teams are no longer re-seeded after the opening round and will face the other winner in their division in the second round.

THN gets you prepared for the action, which will start Wednesday, April 12. Below is our introduction to each series, insider analysis from CBC’s Kevin Weekes and TSN’s Jeff O’Neill, and THN’s prediction.

And be sure to vote on our poll: Who do you think will win the 2014 Stanley Cup?


EASTERN CONFERENCE

BOSTON BRUINS vs. DETROIT RED WINGS
Introduction: A classic Original Six matchup welcomes the Detroit Red Wings to the East side of the playoff bracket and it won’t be a warm reception. The Bruins are the most complete team in the East and asserted their dominance by going through the East with a 12-4 record last playoff season. But the Wings are also an unfortunate draw for Boston. If any team, no matter its drawbacks, is capable of a shocking upset, it’s the experienced Red Wings machine. Just last season, Detroit upset Anaheim in the first round and took Chicago all the way to Game 7. This season, Gustav Nyquist should be even better for them. Read more

Why your team will not win the 2014 Stanley Cup

Boston Bruins lose Cup

Just like the start of the regular season, any fan with a horse in the race starts the NHL playoffs with a giddy optimism. Even if you don’t believe your team will win it all, you’re surely thinking they can pull off an upset or two.

Well, sorry to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Your team isn’t as good or as complete as you believe it to be. They will not win the Stanley Cup.

And here’s why your favorite team will come up empty this spring:

Anaheim: Because the stats community says you’re doomed to fail. Your team’s 49.8 percent Corsi percentage is second-worst among Western playoff teams, which means you don’t possess the puck enough. You were upset last year and it’s going to happen again. Read more