Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Before I rip Niitty, let me say that I did think it was the right move to start the goalies in this order.

Biron has been sensational against the Islanders (he's now beaten them in 11 straight) and Niitty beat the Bruins twice this season.

However, Niitty looked cold, and said so after the game:

"Reading the plays, the timing, moving from side to side, you know, things like that, I was a little rusty," he said. "But, I've felt a lot worse."

He looked real bad on the fourth goal. The puck popped out of his glove and sat in front of him then he never saw Mark Recchi shoot the puck. It was a bad goal, and a costly one for the Flyers.

As for Recchi, it was the 15th year of his career that he reached the 20-goal plateau. Kudos to the twice former Flyer.

However, Recchi didn't take too kindly to John Stevens saying he embellished a cross-checking penalty on Ryan Parent that lead to a 5-on-3 for the Bruins and ultimately a goal.

“Tell Johnny I haven't dived in 20 years," Recchi said. "You want to ask about diving, go ask Mike Knuble. The guy’s 240 pounds."

More on this in my story tomorrow.

Speaking of Knuble, our chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer's Association nominated him for the Bill Masterton Award recognizing perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of hockey.

The league will announce five nominees each day this week beginning with the Atlantic Division tomorrow.

I'll have a more detailed story on that as well.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I can't even begin to break this one down.

The Flyers were putrid for two periods, taking the Islanders for granted, but then put it together in the third to comeback and win.

John Stevens gave Mike Richards credit for an impassioned between periods speech that lit the spark for the team.

Every reporter wrote that story, but it sounded fishy to me.

A couple guys were joking with Richards after the game about his supposed "win one for the Gipper" plea.

Methinks it didn't really happen as Stevens suggested, but why let that get in the way of a better story?

Yet, Marty Biron said there was some talk at the break.

"A couple guys came in and made the point that all we needed to do was to get our feet going, get one goal and see what happens," Biron said. "There was a sense that we weren't playing well at all. You could look around the room and guys were like, "We have to get going. There's only nine games left and we can't play like that. We have to get some points. There was no sense of panic. There was no sense of frustration. We just had to call a spade a spade."

Good stuff Marty.

Which brings me to my second item - the shootout.

Why on earth did Isles coach Scott Gordon use two defensemen for the shootout and what in God's name was Brendan Witt doing taking the first one?

Here was Gordon's explanation:

"The last time we practiced a shootout, my defensemen were pretty successful," he said. "I told Witt that at some point I was going to use him."

Wow, heady stuff Scott.

As we were getting on the elevator from the press box, Flyers' goalie coach Reggie Lemelin looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said, "I have to be honest, I didn't have Witt on my shootout chart."

Don't worry Reggie, I'm not sure any goalie coach in the league would.

Biron was equally perplexed.

"You get a guy out there you don't know what to expect," Biron said. "He can shoot, deke, heck he might pull a Marek Malik and try to put it between his legs and roof it. I was a little worried and he made a good shot. It was quick. I was fortunate that I just kept my glove up there and caught it."

Anyway, all fun aside, it was a poor effort. And if they plan on beating Boston tomorrow and staying ahead of Carolina and Pittsburgh, they're going to have to be a lot better than that.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Someone asked me today who I thought the Flyers most important five players were for the next five seasons.

It was a tough question, but after some thought, here's the list I came up with:

1. Kimmo Timonen
2. Claude Giroux
3. Mike Richards
4. Ryan Parent
5. Jeff Carter

Braydon Coburn would be a close sixth.

So, do I have it right? Is my order wrong? Did I miss someone? Feel free to comment below and we can chat about it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Kimmo Timonen will play tonight. Turns out, through this entire maze of deception the Flyers tried to make us navigate, it was my initial source that was right all along.

Good job source!

Anyway, Timonen is going to play through whatever sickness he has, something he didn't do a few weeks ago when he missed a week with the flu.

Danny Syvret was called up as an emergency call up, something that teams are allowed to do without it counting against their four call-up limit after the trade deadline assuming they get permission from the league... which the Flyers did.

In other news...

The Flyers signed free agent Swedish golaie Johan Backlund on a one-year contract for the 2009-10 season.

Backlund, 27, has spent his entire career in Sweden and played for his country in the 2007 World Championships. His team finished fourth in the tournament.

This could spell the end of Antero Niittymaki's career with the Flyers. An unrestricted free agent, he probably won't be re-signed assuming the Flyers make an offer to fellow free agent Marty Biron.

Backlund would replace Niittymaki as the team's backup.


Kimmo isn't hurt... or sick.

Jones isn't hurt.

But, somebody is sick and might not play.

Who, remains a mystery, however the ill player and Syvret will both skate in warmups and then a decision will be made.

Next update after we talk to Holmgren at 6:45.


Now I've been told from a separate source that it's Randy Jones and not Kimmo Timonen who will be out of the lineup.

I still can't get either confirmed as Paul Holmgren isn't taking calls right now.

As soon as I know, I'll post it, but the definite is one of them will be out tonight and Syvret will be in.

UPDATE: Homer to speak at 6:45. Nothing sooner and no explanation as to who is hurt or what happened. I'll still try and find out, but I have to get down to the arena now. Look for an update on Twitter.


The Flyers recalled Danny Syvret today under "emergency conditions" to play tonight against Florida.

There has been no word as to who he's replacing, but a little birdie told me Kimmo Timonen will not dress tonight.

I'm double-checking now, and will have an update ASAP.


So, I was reading my buddy Tim Panaccio on yesterday (it's a good site... maybe I say that because I write for them weekly too!!!) and he predicted the Flyers and Penguins will still meet in the first round of the playoffs.

He has the Flyers finishing fourth and Pittsburgh fifth. It would be a whale of a series if that were to occur, but I don't think it'll happen.

I also checked out Eklund's wacky predictions on Hockey Buzz, and he has the Flyers falling to 6th to play Washington in the first round.

Um... No.

So, I decided to do a little research into the schedule and try to figure out who would finish where, and you know what I came up with? The standings won't be any different than they are right now.

So, it would be 1. Boston vs. 8. Montreal, 2. New Jersey vs. 7. New York Rangers, 3. Washington vs. 6. Pittsburgh, and 4. Philadelphia vs. 5. Carolina.

I'll explain why in a minute, but aside from the Flyers-Hurricanes, the NHL could market the heck out of those other three series and see some of their best television numbers in years.

Boston-Montreal is a storied rivalry; the Devils-Rangers would consume the New York market, and Pittsburgh vs. Washington would be the national series to spotlight, regardless of who plays in the West simply because of the Crosby/Malkin vs. Ovechkin factor.

As to why I think these standings will hold up, let's look at the schedules.

Boston is a team that is ripe for the playoff picking, but I think they have a relatively easy schedule over their final nine games and should come away with 13 points - enough to hold off the hard charging Devils and Capitals.
Six of those nine games are against current non-playoff teams, and of the other three, two are at home against the Rangers and Montreal. Their toughest game remaining is a trip here to Philly Sunday.

New Jersey has a slightly tougher schedule, with five of their remaining nine games against current playoff teams, but they get four of them out of the way early. After a trip to Chicago, a home game against Carolina and a trip to the Garden and the Igloo, they have four straight against non-playoff types before finishing the season at home against the 'Canes. Carolina might need that one to lock up No. 5 and the Devs should already have No. 2 taken care of. New Jersey has to go just 6-2-1 to eliminate the Caps by themselves. A loss here and there opens the door for Washington to pass them, but they'd have to be perfect. They won't be.

Washington has a relatively breezy schedule, but they've struggled recently against bad teams - losing to the Leafs twice and Atlanta in the last few weeks. Every remaining game is against a team not in the playoffs, but they're sure to lose focus and drop one or two along the way, securing No. 2 for the Devils.

How anyone can think the Flyers will drop from No.4 considering they've played fewer games than anyone else in the conference, have a few weak sisters remaining on the schedule, and are playing darn good hockey right now is beyond me. Seven of the final 10 games are against current non-playoff teams, and frankly their a better team than both the Rangers and Bruins who make up those other three contests. I know people think I'm crazy with the Boston thing, but really, the Bruins don't impress me that much. Good team, yes, best in the Conference? Far from it.

Carolina at No. 5 is the hardest call to make, but they're playing like the Caps did at the end of last season, and are going to be really tough to beat. Besides, they're excellent at home and four of their final six are at RBC Center, including a showdown with Pittsburgh that could decide who plays the Flyers. They are also going to get a rare bit of rest just before the end of the season hear, having to play only one game in the next seven days. A win in New Jersey Saturday locks it up in my mind, but even a loss there and I still thing the 'Canes sneak ahead of Pittsburgh. I like them to beat the Pens in Carolina April 4.

Pittsburgh is still red-hot, despite losing to the Flyers. They bounced back with an impressive shutout win over Calgary that I didn't see coming. Still, after a pair of home games against the Rangers and Devils, Pittsburgh has four of their final five games on the road, including that game in Carolina and a couple against desperate teams like Florida and Montreal battling for the final playoff spot. There are enough trap doors for the Pens to stumble once or twice and not be able to catch Carolina. Still, this is a dangerous team in the playoffs.

The Rangers are an absolute enigma. They really don't have great talent offensively or defensively. But they have a great goalie, and that can get you far. However, they're going to have to run the gauntlet of sorts, just to earn a playoff spot as after tonight's game in Atlanta, their last seven games are all against playoff-bound opposition. They'll get bloodied along the way, but I'm betting on Lundqvist stealing a couple to get them into the postseason.

If there was ever a team so undeserving of a playoff bid, it's the Montreal Canadiens, who collapsed under the pressure of their 100th season and high expectations following last season's No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. They had been horrible, dropping seven of nine before beating Atlanta Tuesday. However, of those seven losses, five came against Toronto, Buffalo, Atlanta, the New York Islanders and Ottawa. Yuck. I was ready to consider them dead and buried until Florida went ice cold and they too can't win a game now. Montreal is ahead of the Panthers and has a game in hand. The schedule is in their favor on paper too with five more games against sub-.500 teams, but these are the choking Canadiens after all, and this is the one prediction I'm most shaky about.

As for the Panthers, they've probably blown one too many opportunities to get into the playoffs by now, and although they still have a shot if they can get hot, the schedule is working against them. Six of their final eight games are against teams either in a comfortable playoff spot or fighting like mad to get in. They can't afford any more hiccups, but now I think they'll fall a point or two short.

And as for Ottawa... I know Eklund not only has them getting in, but finishing seventh, but I don't see it. A perfect storm would have to happen which means Ottawa keeps winning -- especially against six of their final nine games in which the play teams ahead of them - and hope fro some major help from some teams - like Montreal, the Rangers, Florida and Buffalo - to continue to collapse. I think it's highly unlikely.

That's it for now. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


No Simon Gagne at practice today. He wasn't even floating around the locker room like guys usually do when given a day off while the team practices.

John Stevens said it was a "maintenance day" and that Gagne would be good to go tomorrow.

In other news....

- Look for a story from me tomorrow about Mike Knuble being the leading scorer in the NHL in the 0ver-35 sect (you might read it on another Website, but they stole my idea at practice... and yeah, I'm great friends with the reporter and gave him my blessing).

- Darroll Powe shattered the glass behind Antero Niittymaki's net this morning, forcing the team to switch over and practice on the Phantoms' rink.

- Marty Biron will start tomorrow against Florida. Look for Stevens to split his goalies this weekend, but it might not be how you'd expect. Biron has been awesome against the Isles the past two seasons winning 12 straight. Meanwhile, Antero Niittymaki has twice defeated the Bruins this season.

Finally, don't forget to follow me on Twitter.

All my tweets are listed below my bio on this page on the right.

You can also follow along through my Facebook Page.


Hello all, back off the shelf after some time under the surgeon's knife to repair that injured wrist I was complaining about earlier this season.

Still carrying around a club-like left claw that would have made Conrad Dobler proud, but am able to type... albeit slowly.

But, I am excited about some new stuff coming your way on this blog. I will now be posting updates via Twitter, which for now can be found on the right side of the blog underneath my bio and the archives.

Here is where you will find the newest news about the Flyers as it happens. If I get a story in the locker room, I'll send a tweet from the locker room and update it later, but you'll be able to get the latest dirt almost as it's happening.

Pretty sweet, huh?

To follow me on twitter do one of three things:

Either go to and look up my user ID (AnthonySan37) and follow me.
Or click on the link down there on the right side of this blog that says "follow me on Twitter."

Or most simply, click here.

Also, updates will go to my Facebook page as well, so follow along there as well.

I'm going to give it a test run from the locker room at practice today (Wednesday) to see how it works.

Let me know what you think. My belief is this way, I can give you a lot more information, just in smaller doses, but quicker, and then follow up later with a post to the blog, a story on the Web site or a story in the next day's paper.

This should all be especially cool with the playoffs rolling around.

So follow me on Twitter, Facebook, this blog, or heck... all three. I'm there for you for your Flyers' fix.


Monday, March 9, 2009


Mike Richards was walking around Skate Zone today, but he had the day off and didn't practice with the team.

It's what they call a "maintenance day" for Richards.

In other words, the guys plays a boatload of minutes and the Flyers seem to have a game every other night, so to save his legs - he gets a day off.

He will play tonight against Buffalo.

So too will Danny Briere, who has skated for three straight days and claims to be feeling a lot better after ripping through some adhesions where he had his groin surgery last Thursday.

John Stevens remains cautious, but Briere is pretty confident he will play.

Meanwhile, Marty Biron has a chance to put a stranglehold on the starting goalie job when he makes his second straight start and third consecutive appearance tonight against his former team.

Tomorrow, look for a story from me on the continued improvement of Braydon Coburn with a little note on what to expect from the general manager's meeting this week in Florida.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Here's the explanation... (not sure I agree with it)

Scottie Upshall was traded to Phoenix to create enough cap space for the Flyers to call up a player from the Phantoms in case of injury without having to send Claude Giroux back down again.

Daniel Carcillo was acquired to replace Upshall. He's not as skilled, but has a higher motor and a mouth to match. He's pugnacious, will fight at the drop of a nickel, and leads the NHL in penalty minutes. In Paul Holmgren's mind this constitutes the fans will love him. He saves the Flyers an additional $450,000.

The Flyers also gave Phoenix a second round pick. That was in essence for renting cap space from the Coyotes. The pick is in 2011. It was definitely a steep price to pay for the smallest of breathing rooms.

The Flyers then acquired hulking defenseman Kyle McLaren from the San Jose Sharks for a 6th round pick in 2009. McLaren, who makes $2.5 million, hasn't played in the NHL in more than a year.

He has been toiling in the AHL for the Worcester Sharks, where he's only played 17 games this season. He has two bad knees and is a shell of the playr he was a decade ago in Boston. The Flyers added him for playoff depth on the blue line. There is no salary cap in the playoffs.

That's it folks. Are the Flyers better now then they were this morning? I don't think so.


The Flyers got a defenseman after all, but something tells me it wasn't a guy at the top of their list.

The Flyers traded a sixth rounder for 31-year-old defenseman Kyle McLaren of San Jose.

McLaren has not played a game in the NHL this season after being waived to the AHL.

He has played just 17 games for the Worcester Sharks with zero goals and six assists. He had 17 penalty minutes.

McLaren, 6-4, 230, makes $2.5 million, but will likely be sent to the Phantoms and only be used as a call up if necessary.

Trades are still trickling in, but it's not looking like the Flyers did anything of substance besides get rid of a guy who was well-liked in the locker room in Upshall.


In a trade that makes little sense right now, the Flyers have traded Scottie Upshall to the Phoenix Coyotes for Daniel Carcillo.

Carcillo, 24, leads the NHL in penalty minutes with 174 and is tied for second in fighting majors with 18.

In short, he's a goon.

He has three goals and seven assists in 54 games with the Coyotes.

The original report from TSN in Canada has the Flyers also sending Phoenix a second round pick, but they don't have a second rounder in either 2009 or 2010, so those details are still sketchy.

Upshall had 7 goals and 14 assists for the Flyers.

The Flyers are saving roughly $400,000 in this deal.

Carcillo is also signed through next season and his cap hit is $885,000.

Rumor has it that although the deadline has passed, the Flyers have an agreement in principle on a second deal and have been granted an extension by the league to finalize the particulars.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The latest rumor with a little bit of legs is that the Flyers are trying to land Toronto center Nik Antropov.

I'm not certain how the big center would improve the Flyers other than add size to a mostly small team.

Antropov has long been criticized for not playing up to his stature, and for the first seven years of his career was a disappointment in Toronto.

Last season he emerged to have a "career year" by scoring 26 goals and adding 30 assists, but he was their top scoring option.

He's been decent this season as well, with 21 goals and 25 assists, but has been a woeful minus-13 -- not the kind of responsible forward the Flyers like.

His salary is affordable at $2.05 million, but it's not certain where he would fit in on this team.

The Flyers would have to trade a player of equal salary plus a draft pick for his services (Joffrey Lupul) and would probably be wise to look elsewhere for an improvement.


Just spoke to Marty Biron.

He said the Flyers have not approached him about waiving his no trade clause and thinks the team would have done so by now if they were considering moving him.

The report that Biron would be traded to Phoenix and then flipped to another team originated out of Canada on TSN, the ESPN affiliate.

The idea would be that the Flyers would ramp up their effort to trade for Jay Bouwmeester by clearing Biron's salary off the cap and then acquire Bouwmeester and Craig Anderson from the Panthers.

Meanwhile, Phoenix would flip Biron to the Buffalo Sabres, where he would play at home and fill in for the injured Ryan MIller as the Sabres made a push for the playoffs.

"I really haven't given it as much thought as you might think because you guys have been asking me about it for the last two weeks," Biron said. "I answer it and then I go home and I haven't even thought about it. But, I was asked by a couple people today about it if I had waived it already or not and I said I was never asked.

"I don't know what I would say. I would have to cross that bridge when I get there. I was not asked. I think that most players are being asked three or four days before the deadline and I haven't been asked at all."

However, several NHL sources have said that it is something that has been explored, but it might not have reached a point where the Flyers needed to ask Biron to waive his no-trade clause.

The trade deadline is tomorrow at 3 p.m.


Spoke to several folks from around the NHL today, and there is speculation the Flyers are going to ask Marty Biron to waive his no trade clause to go home to Buffalo.

A lot of things would have to happen to make this all come to fruition, but here's what I've been able to glean....

Buffalo wants to upgrade their defense, blow out a contract they loathe and pick up a veteran goalie to fill in as they try to make the playoffs with starter Ryan Miller sidelined with a dreaded high ankle sprain.

The sequence of events that needs to happen is this....

1. Buffalo would have to work out a deal with Chicago sending forward Tim Connolly to the Black Hawks in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski.

2. The Flyers would have Biron agree to waive his no trade clause to go back to Buffalo. Biron maintains his offseason home in Buffalo and his wife is originally from the area.

3. Assuming Biron agrees, the Flyers would trade Biron to Phoenix. What they get in return is uncertain a this time, but I'll speculate on two possibilities in a minute...

4. Phoenix would then send Biron to Buffalo in exchange for defenseman Henrik Tallinder and Maxim Afinogenov.

What the Flyers would be doing in this instance is twofold. One, they can trade BIron straight up for defenseman Derek Morris, a player they coveted twice before at the deadline only to lose out on acquiring him.

Morris' cap hit is $3.917 million which compared to Biron's $3.5 million is basically a wash. The Flyers would then only have to finagle their lineup around enough to lose about $150,000 in salary to be compliant with the cap.

This of course would mean they were turning the No. 1 goalie reins over to Antero Niittymaki, but would be left without a backup. They could then call up either Scott Munroe or J.S. Aubin, who has NHL experience, as Niittymaki's backup.

The other option is they send Biron to Phoenix as a salary dump and take nothing of salary value in return, clearing $3.5 million in space on their cap.

Then, with the $3.7 million in space available to them, the Flyers could strike the long-rumored deal with Florida for Jay Bouwmeester.

All along rumors have had it that the Flyers would send Joffrey Lupul and a defenseman to Florida for Bouwmeester, but if they clear out Biron, they would only have to lose one player off their roster, possibly throw in a prospect (or two) and/or a draft pick and could also get back Florida's backup goalie Craig Anderson, whose cap hit is $575,000 and is an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

For example, would Matt Carle, prospect James vanRiesmdyk and a future draft pick net you Bouwmeester and Anderson? Possibly.

The Flyers would then have about $650,000 in cap room to juggle their roster as they see fit.

It's a lot of speculation. There's a lot of ifs. But, after talking to people in each of the involved cities, it does make sense and there is a lot of talking going on..