The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off three consecutive losses for the first time this season. Since the All-Star break, the Orange & Black are sporting a 1 - 2 - 2 record and look to turn it around against the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening at the Wells Fargo Center.
If you think about it, despite all the controversy in net, despite the injury bug our boys have suffered for the better part of the season, and despite our lousy home record, it's pretty impressive to say that only once have the Flyers lost three games in a row all year. That shows grit, determination, talent depth, and leadership spread all over the roster.
But that argument won't automatically gain you a 'W' tonight and snap this skid the Flyers are currently in. Now, it's tough to say Philadelphia's in a slump after they put 45-shots on Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov versus 18-shots allowed on the other end of the ice. What we witnessed on Tuesday night was just one hell of an epic performance between the pipes for New York. It's unfortunate for us that Nabby had a hockey deity in his corner all 60-minutes, OT and the shootout. But that's the way the icy cookie crumbles.
At 7:00pm ET, the puck drops between Flyers stars like Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr, and Scott Hartnell, and Toronto warhorses such as Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Mikhail Grabovski.
The papers continue to push this B. Schenn vs L. Schenn story as if it's this tilt's major headline.
Take a step back and look at the Eastern Conference Standings; Toronto is hanging on to that 7th seed by just one point while Ottawa's pushed Florida out of contention and breath down the necks of every Leaf, sitting at the 8-spot.
Toronto has every bit to gain from a win tonight as the Flyers do.
Chugging along behind us are the Devils and Penguins, tied at 65-points -- only a 2-tally margin between our 67-points. New Jersey's won a surprising 5-games in a row, and are 7 - 2 - 1 in their last 10-matches.
Pittsburgh's star Evgeni Malkin is playing like their city's Lord and Savior, leading the entire NHL with 62-points (29 G, 33 A).
Welcome to the second half of the season, ladies and gentlemen; Where the trenches are dug deep and the combat is even more barbarous.
While Eastern clubs gain steam, our Flyers have traditionally fallen to their ever-so-familiar February woes. Not much should change with Philly's strategy against the Maple Leafs. The offense has been putting the pucks on net. But the defense will have to tighten up in our zone if they expect to cut the heads off the chances engineered by skaters like Lupul or Kessel.
Guarding the twine for Broad Street will be Sergei Bobrovsky. Bryzgalov's been reported as under the weather, and is home resting. So if that's the case, who's backing up The Bob?
For the love of humanity, it's gameday and we don't know who's backing Bob? My cowriter, Joe Bogle, believes that although Bryzgalov's currently sick at home, he'll wind up making the trip to The Well wearing his knitted hat at the end of the bench.
Maybe. Maybe not.
But just in case Bryz is home pissing outta both ends and incapable of keeping a saltine down, what are our options? Calling up Michael Leighton from the Phantoms cannot happen considering he's on a 1-Way contract, which means if he were going to be called up....he'd have to go through re-entry waivers. Re-entry waivers is a process that takes 24-hours. The game is 7-hours from starting.
And because of that fact, I point to Flyers beat writer Dave Isaac who disclosed this gem:
The PTO (Professional Try Out) contract is a minor league contract of up to 25 games, but can be terminated earlier. Now, any player signed to a PTO is not qualified to play in the NHL under that brand of contract. It is non-transferable from the AHL to the NHL. However, in an emergency situation, goalies are the exceptions.
As for this Justin Musciano kid, I googled him and got his HockeyDB.com player card.
He's 5'08" and 150 lbs. Basically we'd be signing Squeak from the movie Baseketball.
Nevertheless, no one is sure who's playing second to Sergei Bobrovsky tonight.
So, you all remember Grabovski, right? --
That guy is a high-sticking machine. He makes Danny Briere's stick look like it's glued to the ice. But moments ago Flyers beat writer Randy J Miller reported Grabby feels awful about Pronger's eye, but it was 100% an accident --
Mikhail's stick blade claimed the faces of Giroux, Hartnell and Pronger in that match. He was swinging it around like a medieval mase all game long. Accidents happen, but he's a professional hockey player whose awareness should have been a bit sharper than that.
Though I doubt any retaliation or policing will be thrown at Grabovski tonight, I still wouldn't mind seeing his bell get rung. Our captain is out for the entire season (likely to never play another minute of NHL hockey again) because he decided to blindly follow through on a shot taken from a ridiculously bad angle.
Can the Flyers snap outta this slump? Find out tonight.
Update (1:45PM ET):
Guess the Flyers were able to call up Bacashihua after all.
Alright, I figured this out. The reason Jason Bacashihua does NOT have to pass through re-entry waivers is because he's listed as a Veteran Minor League Player. Under the emergency circumstances, this exemption from re-entry waivers is defined as followed:
~ For goaltenders, at least 180 games played in the NHL, AHL, and ECHL combined, AND...
~ Who have not been on an NHL roster for at least 80 games over the past two seasons, AND...
~ Who have not been on an NHL roster for at least 40 games in the previous season.
Babaganoosh (or whatever the hell his name is) has played in a total of 38 NHL games, and hasn't seen NHL ice since the 2005-06, 2006-07 seasons with the St. Louis Blues.
Thank you, Wikipedia.
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