Archive of Orange and Black Pack Articles

Alright, gentlemen, pencils down!

It's been an interesting first-half of the 2011-12 season to say the least. Prior to the regular schedule beginning, we underwent a roster flip, dropped a ton of money between the pipes, dealt our captain and his butt-buddy Jeff Carter, signed up a couple of ex-Pittsburgh Penguins and started more rookies on the active list than an IIHF squad. 

Throughout the last three months and some change, we've been curveballed by certain players' great games and some players' failures. Nevertheless, the orange & black sit at fourth in the Eastern Conference standings and are about to skate into their 41st (of 82) contest of the regular season. 

As a Flyers blogger, I'll take this moment to reflect back on our players and their performances, then generate a letter-grade I deem echoes their achievements thus far. 

And who better to start off with than....

Claude Giroux

Claude's third in the entire NHL in points, and only a single point behind the leader, Henrik Sedin. Did I mention Giroux's played seven less games than the Twin?

Without a doubt, #28 leads the Orange Charge and has been this team's standout star since the puck dropped back on October 6th. He's gained excellent chemistry with linemates Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr, but I figure it's safe to say that skating with Claude made those two wingers as effective as they are.

Claude gets a solid A+ in my book. Above and beyond the call of duty, and without question this team's next Captain.

Danny Briere


This is a toughie. We're all aware I harp on Briere the most of any Philadelphia Flyer. Sometimes I have a rational argument, and other times I vent from the face like a caveman about #48.  

But you must understand that I do not question Danny's skill or his leadership. What gets to me is his $6.5-Million cap hit which contributes most to the headache of possibly not being able to re-sign players like both Meszaros and Hartnell someday. 

However, we've seen how dominating Briere can be in the post-season, and certainly in a few tilts this regular season. Games that come to mind are the Islanders, Avalanche and his hat-trick performance against the Ottawa Senators. 

My wish is that Dan can harness this intensity and provide it on a consistent basis. Because what I witness throughout the schedule is a Spike & Plummet performance. 

Briere's one stick infraction away from turning my B- grade to a C+ average. 

Jaromir Jagr


Who in their right mind thought the legendary (and Philadelphia hated) Jaromir Jagr was going to throw on a Broad Street sweater before July 1st? 

No one. 

Who in their right mind knew he'd skate on our top line, contributing 31-points in 34-games played at the tender age of 39?

No one. 

This senior citizen's exceeded expectation by miles, and his spotty absences due to groin issues have proven this team needs him adjacent to Claude Giroux. Given his performance, his points total, age and how he's shattered apprehension, I'll throw an A- under his skates and call it a day. 

Scott Hartnell


Scott Hartnell is second on this team in points, and ranked highest in the plus/minus category. He's easily one of the best Flyers on the ice, and the numbers don't lie.

On top of his brilliant 2011-12 fruition, he's still that lovable pest on the ice and barks at the opposing benches. Not only that, he's also joined the world of Twitter and has taken the phrase #HartnellDown under his wing.

A standing ovation and my cap off to Scott and his unquestionable A+ performance thus far this season.  

Max Talbot


Another surprise signing from Free Agency Frenzy Day that's paid way more than its fare share of premiums.

Max signed on board this club to fill the grit and PK roles left open by exited players like Mike Richards, Blair Betts, and Darroll Powe. To say he's done his job is an understatement. 

Talbot's contributed 10-goals and 8-assists to the scorecard which is easily the beginnings to his best season points-wise. Maybe it's the bias in me talking because he's my favorite Flyer, but I'm not afraid to jot a solid A grade on Maxime's midseason report card. 

Tell me I'm wrong. 

Wayne Simmonds


Simmonds is a goddamn animal. When he's not chewing the fat with an opposing skater on the goalie's front porch or dropping the mitts and flaring up some guy's face, he's creating disturbances in the slot and screens for his power-play mates.

This once-LA King fits the description of Broad Street Bully to the max, and I hope he sticks around past 2012-13.

B grade for this chap.  
Jakub Voracek


Though he's got issues finishing on the chances he creates, Jake's been a hell of a surprising penalty-killer which was discovered during Giroux's concussion related injury. 

He's potted a few pucks here and there, but that doesn't take away from his enormous potential and B grade to this point. 

Carry on, Voracek! And put the puck on net more. 
James van Riemsdyk

I love the kid. I really do. I think we all fell head over heels for Reemer in last season's Playoffs.

Where the hell is THAT player?

Many claim JVR is plagued by a mid-body injury and even though he can play through it, the injury can only be corrected via surgical procedure.

Whatever the excuse may be, I think it's cause the kid lost his mojo. He lost his confidence, and luckily we've seen evidence of him getting it back (ie, versus Chicago). But one or two recent performances does not sway me away from handing James a C grade.

Especially with that brand spankin' new 6-year/$25.5-Million contract of his staring us in the face, which starts this July 1st.

Jody Shelley

Zac Rinaldo

Look, the rookie's done his job.

He's 169-pounds soaking wet, yet that wouldn't stop Rinaldo from squaring off against a player like Zdeno Chara. Zac fears no one in this league, which is obvious, and he's dependable on keeping the opposing bad boys on their toes and heads on a swivel.

If Zac manages to perfect his explosive physical nature then I don't see how he'll not be considered one of the best at his roles in the league. 

C+ grade........but please, don't tell him that. 
Sean Couturier


Before this regular season began, a couple of us at Orange & Black Pack believed Sean wasn't ready for the NHL.

Boy, were we ever incorrect.

The maturity in this player's game is beyond his youthful age of 18, and it shows in his penalty-killing ability and how exceptionally patient he is with the puck.

"Cooter" is not only one of the better forwards on the Flyers, he's turning heads all over the league. Even at 8th overall in the NHL Draft he was a steal, and for that I dish Sean an A- grade.  
Matt Read

Tied at first in the league with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in goals-scored among NHL rookies, Matt Read's been nothing short of outstanding. He's also thrown his rather sizable hat in the ring for rookie of the year. 

Read is an all around player. He scores, he's on special teams, he's blocking shots and has come up clutch with some game-winning goals. 

Though not your traditionally aged rookie (25), Matt's a rookie nonetheless. And just like Couturier, Read has shown his game is well beyond his NHL experience. 

Tally an A grade next to this young buck, but don't be surprised if he finishes this season at a perfect A+. 

Brayden Schenn


It's tough to give Schenn a valid analysis. He's been recurrently injured which hasn't given anyone a good idea of how consistent of an NHL'er Brayden is or can become. 

Lately he's stuck out positively. He's centered a line with Simmonds and van Riemsdyk, and the combination's seemed to takeoff in large part of Brayden's physicality. 

His faceoff percentage is right around the 50% mark, which is admirable. And hopefully Brayden's first NHL goal scored in the Bridgestone Winter Classic is a glimmer of a lot more to come. I believe a C+ is fair assessment up to this point. 
Harry Zolnierczyk


Despite looking like a drifter you'd find under an overpass in his player photo, Harry "Z" Zolnierczyk has filled his role as a fourth liner rather well.

He's not out there to light the lamps until the bulb explodes, but that's not to say he hasn't sunk some rubber in his first NHL season. Zolnierczyk brings a lot of energy with him on the ice, and hasn't hesitated away from the scrums along the boards. 

I value players like Harry because although he's not the typical sung hero, his role on the ice becomes quite apparent if he effects the game negatively which I've failed to notice at all thus far. 

Another C+ player who could easily wind up in the B column before April 7th if he remains on the active roster.

Braydon Coburn

Signing Braydon to an extension was absolutely the right decision by Paul Holmgren and the rest of the suits in management.

Coburn brings size to the blue line, but also rush on the offensive attack. He's gifted at loosening the puck off the opposing forward along the boards, and connects the puck with the frontal progression very effectively.

And given our current defensive struggles, I wish we had one or two more blue liners like Braydon in orange and black. However a number of his turnovers in front of our net had me shaking my head a few times this season. 

Braydon sees his initial, B, for his mid-season appraisement. 

Kimmo Timonen


I'd do anything to wind the clock backward on Timonen's age. He's simply one of the more superior defensemen in the world. Pure, unadulterated awesomeness flows from every glide of #44's skate blades.

Usually Timonen would wind up with an A grade on any given mid-season report card, but in lieu of the permanently absent Chris Pronger, Timonen's stepped up his dominance and defensive skill - not to mention leadership - and is one of the most quiet reasons why this team's the type of contender they are today.

A+ to the Finnish steed.  
Andrej Meszaros    


Meszaros' season began not so hot. There were greater expectations filed under his name since he finished last season on such a dominating note. But it was right around late-November of this year when Andrej stepped up his game and reminded us why his shot from the points is feared by even the speed of light. 

When the game's tied or the Flyers are down by a goal late in the 3rd, this defenseman is one of only a palmful of names expected to break the bank and send Flyers nation from biting their fingernails, to standing on their feet and arms raised to the sky. 

Matt Carle


Matt Carle is second to Kimmo Timonen in points among defensive skaters. He's done very well minus his linemate, Chris Pronger.

He's added to the offensive, especially on the slot's flanks but contributes to the zone-guarding headaches with costly turnovers.

I still believe Carle's our best bait to deal off for a sizable, defensive-defenseman this team desperately needs. Until then, I'll throw a B- grade to Matt and not look back.  
Andreas Lilja


As points out, "since he came back from his injury, Lilja has been killing the Flyers."

I never particularly cared for this guy since Day 1. If you notice him, it's because he's on his way to the sin bin or he just coughed up a puck a few feet from our own blue line. 

You know how I said we're suffering from defensive woes? Yea, well, Andreas Lilja's turnovers slowly bleed our leads with every shift he takes. There's next to nothing positive to say about this guy. D+ grade, and he's lucky to get that. 

And yes, Matt Walker would be an even worse substitute. So Lilja's the best option at the #6 defensemen until Erik Gustafsson returns from IR. 

Marc-Andre Bourdon


Aside from being able to grow an epic beard, "Big MAC" was brought up from the AHL and filled some holes on the blue line quite well.

He's got a lot of growing up to do in the sense that his lack of experience shows in some of the decisions he's made on the ice.

Marc-Andre's not one to shy away from dopping the gloves, to boot.

I could see this kid becoming a steady NHL defenseman in the next season or two for the Flyers, but considering the distress we face defensively.....I wouldn't be surprised if he was coupled up with another player and/or Draft picks in order to get a big defenseman in return.


Sergei Bobrovsky


There have been times when Bob got the nod over Bryzgalov and his great stats immediately following that decision had us questioning why Ilya Bryzgalov was ever signed at all. 

But then - not soon after - we're all brought back down to earth and reminded why Bobrovsky's game needs a little more experience under its belt before he could truly start as #1 between the pipes. 

However, none of that really matters considering the Flyers will not be able to re-sign Sergei when his contract runs out after the 2012-13 league year. So Bob will get his chance, just not on this team. Nevertheless, his performance thus far this season has earned him a B- grade. It's tough to decide which is more appropriate since his defense tends to shit themselves in front of him. 

Ilya Bryzgalov


I'll spare everyone the tired "universe" jokes and cut straight to the point; Ilya's sucked. Ilya's sucked so hard that he makes your truck stop glory hole seem like a grandmother trying to gum a Werther's Original Caramel candy.  

I know he's not this bad. We all know he's not this bad. What we all hope is that he manages to turn his suck-ass game around before the meat & potatoes of this season come around. 

By far the most disappointing free agent pick up this year for the Flyers. And arguably of any team in the league. 

With 9-years/$51-Million to his name, Ilya Bryzgalov has expectations that cannot be met unless he's the reason we lift the Stanley Cup for the franchise's third time. 

So far? That's a prayer on thin ice. 


There were players not mentioned/graded because of their inactivity versus the length of the schedule played. Players like Pronger, Gustafsson, Walker, Marshall, and even Ben Holmstrom, Eric Wellwood and Tom Sestito.  

The spectrum of success has been covered at both ends. Some players have contributed greatly, while there's others who've proven to be more of a burden. For those who fall under the latter, I doubt they're incapable of turning their game around for the second half of the season. 

If we have any hopes of making it deep into the Playoffs, then this team's got to find a rhythm. 

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