Flyers make some good points in a hectic month

YONG KIM / Staff photographer
YONG KIM / Staff photographer
Posted: November 29, 2010

After pounding teams with putrid records before Thanksgiving, the Flyers reversed that trend starting on Black Friday with back-to-back games against two of the NHL's bottom feeders, Calgary and New Jersey.

You could call it a Thanksgiving hangover.

Or, you could chalk it up to the fact that the Flyers played 10 games in a ridiculously short 17-day window.

Before Black Friday, the Flyers were 7-0-0 against teams with a losing record. Even after dropping back-to-back shootout losses in afternoon games this weekend, pushing that record to 7-0-2, the Flyers have a lot to be thankful for as they head into December.

Consider the numbers:

-- The Flyers were 9-2-3 in the month of November.

-- With the Capitals' overtime win yesterday, the Flyers are the No. 2 team in the league, trailing Washington by just two points.

-- They picked up 14 of a possible 20 points during their 10 games in 17 days, leaving only two games during that stretch where they came away empty-handed.

Picking up two points in two games against hungry teams in November is not going to make or break a season, especially considering the way they happened: having a disallowed goal cost them one point on Friday and a blown lead in a shootout that cost them another.

They will receive a well-deserved rest this week before facing off against Boston on Wednesday before their marathon schedule picks up again on Saturday. Having not traveled farther than St. Paul, Minn., for any game through the first 25 on the schedule, that's when the real test will begin.

FIRST AUDITION

This week, Michael Leighton could see his first action of the regular season ... in the AHL. The Flyers have yet to confirm the move, but Leighton has progressed steadily since first returning to practice on Nov. 10 after having surgery on Oct. 11 to repair a herniated disk in his lower back.

Under the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Flyers can send Leighton to the minors for a conditioning stint no longer than either 6 days or three games, since Leighton was on the long-term injured reserve list. If Leighton had been on the short-term list, he could have stayed in the AHL for 14 days.

Leighton won't have to travel far if he is to skate with the Phantoms this weekend, since they will be in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night before staying over in Voorhees, N.J., in advance of their Sunday game against Albany at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.

"He's coming along," general manager Paul Holmgren said on Saturday. "We'll probably have a better idea about a plan of what we're going to do early this week."

Either way, Holmgren will be forced to make some sort of move next week if Leighton is to play for Adirondack this weekend since the Flyers do not currently have enough cap space to fit his salary. Among Holmgren's options are to waive Leighton, waive either Oskars Bartulis or Matt Walker (who have played a combined two games this season), add Ian Laperriere to the LTIR list or waive Brian Boucher.

Boucher seems the least likely to go, given his strong play over the last few weeks in tough situations, his smaller salary and his positive attitude in the locker room. Despite his 3-3-2 record, the Flyers have scored just 20 goals in his eight appearances (2.50 goals per game), compared to 67 for rookie Sergei Bobrovsky in his 18 appearances (3.72 goals per game). Boucher was also pegged with the loss in the Flyers' 8-7 home run derby against Tampa Bay, despite allowing as many goals over two periods (four) as Bobrovsky did in the first period.

The Flyers haven't given Boucher, the consummate backup, much to work with, yet they have had a chance to win in every one of his losses: one in a shootout, one in overtime, and three by one goal. Isn't that what a backup is supposed to do?

LEAVING WELL-ENOUGH ALONE

The Flyers sent forward Eric Wellwood back to Adirondack on Saturday, deciding to stick with 12 forwards after both James van Riemsdyk and Nik Zherdev seemed to have found their stride.

Van Riemsdyk has points in five of his last six games and has created chemistry on a line with Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl. Zherdev, who had played just 6 minutes on Nov. 20 prior to Wellwood being recalled, scored a goal-of-the-year candidate against Calgary.

Zherdev may be the Flyers' shootout specialist. He scored the Flyers' only goal of the shootout on Saturday against New Jersey in his first attempt as a Flyer and is a team-best 14-for-34 (41.1 percent) lifetime in the breakaway contest.

The Flyers will have a full roster again this week when Dan Carcillo, who has been nursing an MCL sprain in a knee, returns to practice for the first time in a couple of weeks.

ON-ICE

STAT WATCH

2: Goals in seven games for Claude Giroux, who is still tied with Danny Briere for the team lead. Giroux opened the season with 10 in the Flyers' first 18 games. His last three games are the longest Giroux has gone this season without picking up a point.

6: Giveaways by Ilya Kovalchuk against the Flyers on Saturday, two more than the Flyers' team total of four. Kovalchuk has just one non-shootout goal in his last 15 games.

17-26-4: Combined record of the Flyers' last two opponents, New Jersey and Calgary, who are 28th and 26th, respectively, in the NHL in points.

THE WEEK AHEAD

vs. Boston

Wednesday, 7 o'clock

After playing 10 games in 17 days, the Flyers will have a well-deserved rest for a good portion of this week before the schedule picks up again. This will be the Flyers' first glimpse at the Bruins after completing their historic 3-0 series and 3-0 Game 7 comebacks last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston, which started the season as the Northeast Division frontrunner when they opened in Prague, Czech Republic, is 12-7-2 and five points behind Montreal in the division. Nathan Horton, acquired from Florida in the offseason, is tied for the team lead in points (18) with Milan Lucic.

vs. New Jersey

Saturday, 1 o'clock

The Flyers will get another crack at the Devils, this time at the Wells Fargo Center. It will be interesting to see whether the Devils, who were missing Marty Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise on Saturday, will be any healthier by then. New Jersey has dressed nine rookies making their NHL debuts this season.

at New York Islanders

Sunday, 1 o'clock

With another set of back-to-back afternoon games, the Flyers will travel to Long Island for their third matchup of the season with the lowly Islanders. The Flyers outscored the Islanders, 8-2, in their two previous meetings. New York snapped a 14-game losing streak on Friday.

PHANTOMS PHILE

Newly reacquired Phantoms defenseman Danny Syvret posted three goals in his first three games with Adirondack (3-17-2-0). The Phantoms lost, 3-0, to the newly reincarnated Connecticut Whale last night in Hartford.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|