Posts Tagged ‘Player Report Cards

13
Sep
10

FLYERS: Player Report Cards – Mike Richards

NAME: Mike Richards

POSITION: Center

Regular Season Statistics: 82 Games Played – 31 Goals, 31 Assists, 62 Points. -2

Analysis: Where to begin with the regular season version of Mike Richards? The captain of this Flyers team showed his true colors as the season came down to the final stretch, but until he picked his game up when it mattered, plenty of fans – myself included – were looking at Richards as lacking what it took to captain this squad. There are some qualities of Richards that go overlooked amidst the criticism, however. He did compete in all 82 regular season games, at least giving the Flyers a consistent captain on the ice for the duration of the regular season. Richards also plays in a way, when he’s at the top of his game, that is reminiscent of a certain former Flyers captain named Clarke used to play back in his heyday. By that, of course, I mean Richie disregards his body and is willing to make whatever type of sacrifice it takes in order for his team to win. Another pretty solid aspect to Richards’ season was his 31 goal output, the highest of his National Hockey League career. If it weren’t for questions of motivation and work ethic from time to time, Richards would be on that Clarke-type level in the minds of Flyers fans. However, as he picked up another Bobby Clarke Trophy during the team award ceremony, Richards is quickly showing that his old reputation is merely that and he is progressing forward nicely as a member of this team.

Postseason Statistics: 23 Games Played – 7 Goals, 16 Assists, 23 Points. -1

Analysis: Remember all those questions we had about Mike Richards in the regular season, and even questions based off last seasons performance in the postseason for #18? Remember when we weren’t entirely sure if Richie could carry the load? Well, the captain proved us all wrong – myself, especially – en route to one of the more sensational Flyers postseasons in team history. Richards averaged a point a game as he became only the second Flyers captain (Eric Lindros, 1997) in the past two decades to lead the Orange and Black to an Eastern Conference title. In doing so, Richards created perhaps one of the best memories in Flyers postseason history, when he single-handedly destroyed Marc-Andre Bergeron of the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final to set up a goal that would tie the game at one a piece, and set the path for the Flyers to steamroll Montreal and move on to the Stanley Cup Final. It was a historical postseason for the Flyers and their fans, and Mike Richards was as big a part of it as anything.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Reasoning: The lone reason for the “-” is due to the fact that Richards had some questions about his determination frequently during the regular season. His postseason performance was something of the folklore variety and he certainly established himself as perhaps the most essential key to the core of the Flyers for years to come. He showed everyone during this postseason that he can be “the guy” in Philadelphia and that he most certainly can bring it every night to the rink. I personally was a hater of Mike Richards until the series against New Jersey. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate what he did for the Flyers, I just didn’t feel like his heart was totally in it to justify him wearing the “C”. Well, about five minutes into Game One of the New Jersey series, my mind was changed. Instead of a guy that seemed to be lollygagging behind the play and just going through the motions, I saw a player who was simply not going to let his team lose and do whatever it takes to make sure his squad got a very important win on the road. For me, that told me all I needed to know about the maturation of Mike Richards. That, of course, was simply: we have got ourselves a captain.

07
Sep
10

FLYERS: Player Report Cards – Michael Leighton

NAME: Michael Leighton

POSITION: Goaltender

Regular Season Statistics: 26 Games Started – 16 Wins, 5 Losses, 2 OTLs. 2.48 GAA, .918 SV %, 1 Shutout.

Analysis: Michael Leighton was just your typical, run of the mill journeyman goaltender who latched onto a team this past season at the right time and was virtually the largest reason they made a postseason push. Happens all the time, right? Wrong. When Leights joined the Flyers early in this season, the team’s goaltending carousel was already in full spinning motion. Ray Emery had already suffered his first setback of the season, and Brian Boucher was struggling with a lacerated finger that kept him out of the goal. In walks Leighton, and all he proceeded to do was steal the show, and net career bests in virtually every single statistical category that a goaltender can register numbers in. After previously beginning this season as Cam Ward’s back-up for the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, Leighton was waived and it was at that time that the Flyers claimed his rights and stuck him in goal. Both the Flyers and Leighton never looked back. Up until a freak high ankle sprain against Nashville ended his regular season in mid-March, Leighton was arguably the Flyers MVP the entire second half of the season.

Postseason Statistics: 13 Games Started – 8 Wins, 3 Losses. 2.46 GAA, .916 SV %, 3 Shutouts.

Analysis: Leights returned from his high ankle sprain to see that his starting goaltender position had been won over by Brian Boucher, and that Boosh was doing fairly well in between the pipes as the 33-year-old netminder guided the Flyers to a four games to one series win over the Devils. However, in round two, both the Flyers and Boucher faltered, and fell into a 3-0 hole against the Boston Bruins. Boosh was able to help the Flyers to victory in Game four to stave off elimination, but in Game Five, Boosh’s series ended when he sprained his MCL during a scramble in the goal-mouth. Enter Michael Leighton. Once again, Leighton stepped in the crease and never looked back, helping the Flyers make history and erase the 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 series win and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. From there, Leighton recorded three shutouts – tying Bernie Parent’s playoff record for a single series – as the Flyers won their first Eastern Conference crown since 1997. While he was shaky at times during the Cup Final, there’s no doubt that Leighton was the main reason the Flyers had gotten there.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Reasoning: Many people are saying that we have already seen Michael Leighton’s best effort, and he simply can’t get better than what we saw last season. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that his success was unprecedented, I do disagree that the performance Leights turned in last spring was, while remarkable, the end of the line as far as his capability is concerned. Instead, I think that Leighton will use all the doubters as inspiration, and really work hard this off-season towards putting together a respectable campaign in 2010-2011. He was great when the Flyers needed him to be this past season, and when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, he ultimately took the Flyers from 29th place out of 30 in the entire National Hockey League to just a mere two wins away from the Stanley Cup in the same season. Will the doubters be able to argue against that fact? I strongly doubt it.

19
Aug
10

FLYERS: Player Report Cards – Chris Pronger

NAME: Chris Pronger

POSITION: Defenseman

Regular Season Statistics: 82 Games Played – 10 Goals, 45 Assists, 55 Points. +22

Analysis: When the Flyers acquired Chris Pronger last off-season at the NHL Draft, it was undoubtedly the biggest move of the evening, and possibly of the entire summer. Sure, the package that the Flyers gave the Anaheim Ducks to get Pronger was large (Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul, and a 1st rnd pick), but the payout was tremendous. Pronger ended up having his best statistical season in a National Hockey League uniform since the 2006-2007 season and was a huge reason why the Flyers even made the playoffs in the first place. Those who questioned the big man’s durability as he turned 35 this past season were dead wrong, as Prongs played in all 82 regular season contests for the Flyers, and never showed any sign of slowing down. In turn, his presence made the players around him better, as oft-paired partner Matt Carle enjoyed one of his finest NHL seasons in his career as a result of having the great Pronger to learn from. The purpose of bringing in Pronger, Paul Holmgren said at his introductory press conference last summer, was to give the Flyers a strong enough presence on the blueline to be able to combat against the Eastern Conference’s top talents – Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in particular. While the Flyers didn’t necessarily solve their problems against either of those players by bringing in Pronger, there’s no doubt that having Pronger in front of the net made many top players a little more reluctant to crash the net when playing the Orange and Black.

Postseason Statistics: 23 Games Played – 4 Goals, 14 Assists, 18 Points. +5

Analysis: It’s easy to say that Chris Pronger was one of the main reasons the Flyers were able to make the playoffs. However, it’s hard not to argue that he wasn’t the main reason for their large amount of success once they got there. Pronger, who had won a Stanley Cup a few years earlier as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, brought forth a ton of playoff experience and was really a great antagonist for the Flyers’ opponents to focus on for the duration of the playoffs, something that clearly took a ton of pressure off of the Flyers’ big snipers such as Mike Richards and Danny Briere, and allowed the two of them to have tremendous playoff campaigns. When the team made it to the biggest stage of the Stanley Cup Final, Pronger once again drew the attention to himself, stealing pucks at the end of games and mixing it up with the younger, less disciplined Blackhawks. While the Flyers’ magic eventually ran out in Game Six, and Pronger’s legs seemingly with it, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Flyers fan circles or beyond who honestly believes that the Orange and Black make that dramatic run of this past spring without the future Hall of Fame defenseman. In fact, I’d bet that many of those people would probably say the Flyers don’t even make the playoffs given how their season went if Pronger was not in that dressing room – he is that important to this team.

FINAL GRADE: A

Reasoning: As advertised. Being predominately a Western Conference player his entire career, it was hard to completely fathom just how great of a defenseman Chris Pronger was over here on the East Coast. Sure, we’d heard about him constantly, and it was widely known that he was one of the greatest defenseman not only in the game today, but of all time, as well as a sure-thing for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but it was the type of situation that Philadelphia needed to see for itself. And, man, we weren’t let down in the slightest. Chris Pronger is an absolute treat to watch play the game of hockey. He has thrown his fair share of cheapshots, that has been well documented. However, I’d argue with anyone that Chris Pronger has been the heart and soul of nearly every team he has ever laced up the skates for. He’s been in Philadelphia for one year – one year – and he played so well last season that any chance of the fans turning their backs on him is long gone. He’s signed with the Flyers to play until he’s 42 years old, and if he does make it that far, then, wow – hats off to him. The Flyers are certainly trying to make that a possibility this season as they’ve brought in one of Pronger’s old buddies from Anaheim in Sean O’Donnell as well as Andrej Meszaros from Tampa Bay to play defense and make the Flyers’ front six arguably the best in the entire National Hockey League. That should drop Pronger’s minutes just enough this season to make him fresh for the long run. As for his knee? Sure, it’s a concern. But this is Chris Pronger we’re talking about people. One of the toughest and best the game has ever seen.

07
Aug
10

FLYERS: Player Report Card – Jeff Carter

NAME: Jeff Carter

POSITION: Center

Regular Season Statistics: 74 Games Played – 33 Goals, 28 Assists, 61 Points. +2

Analysis: Coming off a season in which he scored over 40 goals, expectations were high offensively for Jeff Carter coming into the ’09-’10 season. While his totals weren’t at the same level that he finished a year prior, Carter’s statistics this past season were definitely commendable. As was the them of the entire Flyers team this season, Carter certainly had his moments where he underachieved this season, going stretches of five games or more without scoring a goal on four occasions this season. However, the stretch run for Carter was severely hampered when he broke his foot blocking a shot in a March game against the Atlanta Thrashers, an injury that would keep Carter away from the ice until the season-ending home-and-home with the New York Rangers. While Carter wasn’t really a factor in the home-and-home with New York, nor all that much when he was healthy down the stretch against teams who the Flyers were trying to catch in the playoff race, it still needs to be acknowledged that the Flyers wouldn’t have even been in a position to attack for a playoff spot had Carter not carried the load offensively at certain points throughout the year.

Postseason Statistics: 12 Games Played – 5 Goals, 2 Assists, 7 Points. -5

Analysis: Oh, Jeff Carter and the postseason. Unfortunately, a title that doesn’t make too many Flyers fans smile. This postseason gave them reason to believe there would be a change in Carter’s play in the NHL’s second season, but another broken foot – this one in Game Four against New Jersey after having a shot hit him in front of the net – sidelined the Flyers sniper and didn’t give him a chance to continue what was an otherwise solid first round against the Devils. In the four games he participated in during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, Carter had two goals and one assist, all of which came in the final game he would compete in during the series. The broken foot sidelined him for the entire Boston series, and #17 didn’t make his return to the Flyers line-up until Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal. He would score twice in Game Five, a game that clinched the Flyers’ first Eastern Conference Championship since 1997, but was rendered invisible during the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago. The Blackhawks defense had an answer for every move Carter tried to throw at them – granted, Carts was visibly slowed down by the lack of healing time given to his broken foot before he came back – and the Flyers sniper finished with one point in the Final, an empty netter that sealed a Flyers victory in Game Four.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Reasoning: Carter’s offensive prowess is undeniable. There were times when he was silent this year, but, in my opinion, a pair of broken feet will do that to you. I gave Carter a lot of flack during the Final because of how slow he looked on the ice, and I stand by that opinion. Still, I give Carter credit for what he meant to this team during the regular season, and I think everybody knows now that Carts is an integral piece to the future here in Philadelphia. The reason for that is because the Flyers dealt fan favorite and the longest tenured current member of the Orange and Black, Simon Gagne, last month to the Tampa Bay Lightning, electing to go with their shining youth, as opposed to their shining Vets. Sure, Carter’s had a good couple seasons in a row here, but if he doesn’t pick up the pace this year, it’s hard for me to imagine their won’t be people calling for both he and Paul Holmgren’s collective heads. Pressure’s on now, Carter. Don’t give anyone a reason to doubt you.

06
Aug
10

FLYERS: Player Report Cards – Brian Boucher

NAME: Brian Boucher

POSITION: Goaltender

Regular Season Statistics: 26 Games Started – 9 Wins, 18 Losses, 3 OTLs. 2.76 GAA, .900 SV % and 1 Shutout.

Analysis: When the Flyers inked Brian Boucher to a two-year deal last off-season, I, for one, was very excited. Here was Boosh, a guy that had been the focal point of a magical run nearly ten years prior, and now back between the pipes with the Orange and Black. Originally, the plan was to have Boucher back up the Flyers’ other free agent goaltender signing Ray Emery, but that ended up being far from the situation by season’s end. Emery was hobbled by injuries, and, when given the starting reigns for the Flyers, Boucher quickly joined his former goaltending partner on the injury shelf. Still, Boucher was given a second chance when Michael Leighton went down in a March game against Nashville, and he made the most of it from that point on. Boosh ended up back-stopping the Flyers to the playoffs, putting the ultimate exclamation point on the Flyers’ playoff-clinching win against the New York Rangers by stoning an Olli Jokinen attempt in the final shot of a shootout at the Wachovia Center. Sure, his statistics don’t blow you away, but he was was a back-up, and he did help to jumpstart the Flyers’ dramatic playoff run by getting them into the postseason in the first place.

Postseason Statistics: 10 Games Started – 6 Wins, 6 Losses. 2.47 GAA, .909 SV% and 1 Shutout

Analysis: Here’s a fun fact for all of you: Brian Boucher, statistically speaking, was the best goaltender in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played absolutely out of his mind and displayed some of the best goaltending I’ve ever seen in a playoff series as the seventh seeded Flyers pulled off a surprisingly easy 4 games to 1 upset of the second-seeded New Jersey Devils. He finished up the first round series with an incredible 1.60 Goals Against Average during the five game series, and looked poise to have a second storybook Flyers playoff run within his reach. Of course, then the Boston series happened, and after falling behind the B’s three games to one, Boucher suffered what looked to be a season-ending sprained MCL when Miro Satan fell on him in Game Five. Unfortunately, Boosh wouldn’t be around when the team made history against the Bruins in Game Seven, but he certainly wanted to make sure that they playoffs hadn’t heard his name for the final time. He rehabbed heard and recovered from the injury ahead of schedule: just in time to return to the Flyers for the 2010 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Boosh would appear in two Finals games, both in relief of Michael Leighton, and wasn’t all that spectacular. Still, his heart and desire to play were almost overwhelming from a fan perspective.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Reasoning: The only things that brings down Boosh in my eyes here are his statistics. The heart and desire to win in #33 cannot be judged and, quite frankly, it isn’t possible to get a correct assessment on them. He is the ultimate team player – a rare attribute for a National Hockey League goaltender, who don’t always think about others when it comes to playing time. I found it really interesting the amount of times this season that Boucher said, when asked about whether or not he’d like to play in a particular game, that he’d be happy with whatever situation put his team in the best position to claim victory. Many players say that in today’s sports world, but few are rarely believable. Boucher falls into that hallowed category. Hopefully, Boosh can right the statistical horse this season, and make some more great memories for the Flyers and their fans.

29
Jul
10

FLYERS: Player Report Card – Simon Gagne

NAME: Simon Gagne

POSITION: Left Wing

Regular Season Statistics: 58 Games Played – 17 Goals, 23 Assists, 40 Points. -1

Analysis: Another season, another set of injuries for Gagne. Hampered by the injury bug yet again, Gagne was limited to 58 games of action this year. As a result of injury concerns, Gagne, a Team Canada regular, was left off the Canadian roster for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Still, Gagne had a solid season, nearly reaching the 20 goal mark, despite missing almost 20+ games this season. His 17 goal total was a significant drop off from the 34 he put up last season, but it also needs to be taken into account that in 2009-’10 Gagne suited up for 21 less games – a considerable total. Injury concerns aside, when Gagne was in the line-up he still proved to be an invariable contributor to the Flyers’ Power Play and top offensive unit, spending most of his time paired up with Mike Richards. He seemed to regain his elite form as the season wound down, which spelled only good things for the Flyers heading into the postseason.

Postseason Statistics: 19 Games Played – 9 Goals, 3 Assists, 12 Points. -2

Analysis: A large part of the magical run the Flyers endured in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs was due to the wizardry of Gagne when in the line-up. After being unable to beat Martin Brodeur in the first round against New Jersey, Gagne suddenly was rendered useless when he broke his toe blocking a Brian Rolston slapshot in the later stages of Game Four. The injury caused the Flyers’ sniper to miss the series-clinching Game Five, as well as Games 1-3 of the Boston series, before returning in dramatic fashion to win Game Four in overtime and keep the Flyers’ season alive. From there, the majestic Gagne took over. The Flyers won the next six games they played with Gagne in the line-up, as the forward scored 6 goals in that span including the game winner capping off the Flyers’ 4-3 Game Seven victory against Boston that awarded them a spot in the history books.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Reasoning: Call me a softy, a homer, whatever you will. Gagne didn’t have a spectacular regular season by anyone’s standards, but he proved his worth when it mattered most: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Coming back from a broken toe and keeping up with the pace of the playoffs is hard enough, but actually being a factor – and a gigantic one at that – is even more of a testament to the warrior that Simon truly is. He’ll be sorely missed in Philadelphia and questions abound as to how the Flyers will replace Simon both on the ice and in the locker room. It’s going to be difficult to assess how the Flyers do without him until all is said and done. In the meantime, Gagne likely will prosper with a talented group of studs in Tampa Bay.

27
Jul
10

FLYERS: Player Report Card – Ray Emery

NAME: Ray Emery

POSITION: Goaltender

Regular Season Statistics: 29 Games Started – 16 Wins, 11 Losses, 1 Overtime Loss. 2.64 GAA, .905 SV% with 3 Shutouts

Analysis: Burdened with the pressure of finally being “the guy” in between the pipes in Philadelphia, Emery played relatively well until a series of injuries severely slowed down his season, ultimately rendering him useless and a regular on the Injured Reserve. However, during his healthy moments, Emery wasn’t all that bad. He ranked among the league leaders statistically before he went down with an injury, and even began his Flyers career in a positive fashion: blanking the Hurricanes 2-0 in the season opener this past October in Raleigh. Emery would then proceed to win his next two games in route to a 3-0-0 start for the Flyers before he began to show signs of being merely a mortal. Then, he began to show signs that he was merely average. The injuries followed, and the frustration settled in. From a little before the beginning of 2010 on, Ray Emery was nothing but a distant thought in Flyerdom.

Postseason Statistics: INJURED; DID NOT PARTICIPATE

FINAL GRADE: INCOMPLETE

Reasoning: Perhaps the saddest part about all this? Ray Emery will never see his report card become complete. His injuries did him in, and he’s been ushered out with a concern over his ability to stay healthy and replaced by a journeyman minor-leaguer who caught lightning in a bottle at the right time, and a 33 year old career back-up. He won’t be competing in the National Hockey League this season, and it is a shame that’s the case. Instead, Emery likely won’t be playing hockey at all, trying to recover from what has been said to be a career-threatening hip injury for the duration of this upcoming year. It’s a tough break for a guy that seemed to be pushing all the right buttons upon his return to the NHL. However, let’s not forget that Emery put himself in this precarious position: a Russian hockey league cast-off who had lost the respect of his peers and had grown synonymous with the “hot-head” label. Still, there was reason to be optimistic that Emery could turn it around here. It didn’t happen, and we’ve moved on. Razor will need to do the same when (if) he gets his next opportunity to play professional hockey.




The Philly Phour

April 2017
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