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.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Danny Syvret took a hard hit into the boards from New Jersey's Rod Pelley in the third period and ended up making a face plant into the dasher.

He looked shaken up, but it wasn't anything incredibly severe - he is a hockey player after all.

Syvret chipped a tooth and had a few more shake loose because he has a bridge that got jammed against the boards.

He was slow to his feet, but didn't miss a shift and remained in the contest. Of course, when you are fighting for an NHL job, you do whatever you must.


Blair Betts had another solid performance for the Flyers, but again went a day without hearing from Paul Holmgren or his agent.

He knows nothing more about his stake with the team now than he did when he first got here, but you would think he'd have some optimism considering the Randy Jones news today, no?

"That's the first I'm hearing of it," he said after the game, oblivious to the Flyers decision to waive Jones.

Regardless. It says here Betts has a roster spot.


If Brian Boucher's injury is one that is likely to make him miss the start of the season, and considering the gathering of the Flyers brain trust outside the locker room afterwards - Holmgren, John Stevens and assistant general manager and capologist Barry Hanrahan - it seems that could be a scenario - the Flyers will likely have to call on Johan Backlund to back up Ray Emery when the season kicks off Friday in Carolina.

That's certainy not how the Flyers envisioned starting the season, but it could be the only hand they'll be dealt, so they'll have to endure it.

If Boucher's injury is one that is of the 2-4 week variety, expect Emery to get a lot, if not all of the time.


By the way, James van Riemsdyk was the forward who failed to pick up Dainus Zubrus swooping into the left circle for the only goal of the game. Replays showed he was caught watching the play and not covering his zone. Typical for a 20-year old.


Oh yeah, Peter Forsberg scored the overtime winner and set up the other goal Saturday as his hometown team Modo edged Djurgarden 2-1 in the Swedish Elite League.

It was the second goal in as many games this week for the 36-year-old, who is embarking on another comeback attempt following multiple foot surgeries with the aim of returning to the NHL.

Don't know why I'm telling you this other than to get you all riled up. Or am I?

Friday, September 25, 2009


Actually, I don't want to give anyone heart palpitations, so I won't even kid.

Word out of Sweden this week is that Peter Forsberg is attempting another NHL comeback and that he plans on signing with someone this week.

Just so you know, the Flyers are not interested. As fun as it would be for us to have Peter back in the locker room, the Flyers aren't interested in any more drama and have told him no thanks.

Where will he end up? Good question. Not a lot of teams with cap room. I also hear Colorado doesn't want him back. Curious to see where he ends up. Maybe he goes to a weaker team, plays well and forces a trade to a Cup contender by March.

Therefore, maybe we haven't heard the last of Forsberg in Philly.


Talked to Jason Ward for a bit today about innocuous stuff and I got to tell ya, I really like the guy. I wish he had a real chance to make this team because he's certainly a very affable fellow.

No doubt though that he might be a call up if the team suddenly gets bitten by their old friend the injury bug.


I hear Ray Emery has a second "special" mask that he plans to unfurl for the Winter Classic that will pay homage to Flyers' goaltenders of the past. I'll keep you posted on that minor development.


Finally, a personal word on Randy Jones. Just in case I don't get a chance to write this and he gets shipped off to another team.

Randy has been one of the really good people in the locker room for the past five years. I got to know him for the first time when he was a defenseman on the Phantoms when they won the Calder Cup in 2005.

He was always accessible, always a stand-up guy and always made time to talk.

I've certainly given him his share of grief in that time for mistakes or sloppy play, and he just rolled with it as part of the job.

I wish him well wherever he ends up. He certainly respects the sport and all of the trimmings that go with it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Blair Betts said he's tired of talking to his agent.


Those were the words that escaped his lips when we continued to pester him about the probability of signing a contract with the Flyers.

He said he just wants to have Paul Holmgren call him into the office and give him the good news.

“To be honest with you, I really don’t know," Betts said. "We haven’t heard much from the management or coaching staff. There are only a couple games left, so we’re going to find out sooner rather than later what’s going on. I just have to concentrate on hopefully being in the lineup the next couple of games and getting the opportunity to try and make the team.”

Holmgren said he reached out to Betts' agent and told him they would talk numbers this weekend.

Expect Betts to sign Saturday.

Betts made $615,000 last season with the New York Rangers and will likely command a similar salary this season from the Flyers - likely a small raise to $650,000.

In case you forgot... and it's likely you did... Betts scored the game-winning shorthanded goal against the Flyers last season in the final game that cost the Flyers home-ice advantage in the first round.

Not that that has anything to do with him signing a contract, just thought I'd open an old wound.


Ole-Kristian Tollefsen is a goooooooood guy (bonus points for getting the reference) but he didn't have a great game. He needs some more time. He will be evaluated more in the final two preseason games. Still think he has the edge over Danny Syvret, but he needs to show it.


Kudos to Dan Carcillo for a powerful roundhouse right to the chops of Mark Fraser that ended their brief fracas. Carcillo, if he can avoid the dumb penalties, could leave Riley Cote looking for a job because he has a superior skill set.


As well as Emery played tonight, he did have a couple shots blow past him and hit the post. Actually, both shots came seconds apart. Sometimes though, goalies who play well positionally, get those breaks. Give Emery the benefit of the doubt.


Anybody else notice Danny Briere has been the most productive offensive player this preseason?

Here's another prediction - Briere has his best season as a Flyer?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Simon Gagne tested both his surgically repaired hip and his strained groin for the first time in game action Tuesday, and although he was certainly a bit rusty, he emerged feeling good physically.

"For a first game I'm pretty happy," he said. "The first one is a pretty tough one when you haven't played physical hockey in a long time. So, to go out there and play and be able to make some plays, take some hits and play at the NHL speed, I'm pretty happy."

Gagne told me afterward that his plan is to play in each of the remaining three preseason games.

"I can't expect to be able to start the season like that," he said snapping his fingers. "I need to get up to speed. I talked about it with Johnny (Stevens) and he thinks the same way. I'll play in all of them and then be ready to go for the opening game."


My stories in the Wednesday, Sept. 23 paper (and on focus on the battle brewing between James van Riemsdyk and MIka Pyorala for what is perceived to be the last roster spot.

But, on a smaller scale, there is a competition for the seventh defenseman, a position that usually will end up as a healthy scratch - barring injury.

This job also seems down to two players - Ole Kristian Tollefsen, who the Flyers signed late in the summer as a free agent after four seasons in Columbus, and Danny Syvret, who had a stellar season for the Phantoms in 2008-09 and even drank a cup of coffee with the big club.

Tollefsen hasn't had much of a chance to play after losing a tooth and requiring two other root canal surgeries after being hit in the mouth by a Mike Richards shot during practice last week ("He's a nice captain to welcome me to town that way, eh," OKT joked Monday) while Syvret has seen action, including in Tuesday's 5-2 win over Detroit.

Yet, I still think Tollefsen has the edge - he has more NHL experience, and he is a physical player, which fits the mold of what the Flyers want to portray this season.

Stevens also said prospect Oskars Bartulis has climbed up the depth chart and is likely the next guy behind those two.


Speaking of Pyorala, he told a few of us after the game that he trained in the summer with three former Flyers - Janni Niinimaa, Joni Pitkanen and Lasse Kukkonen, all of whom were from his same hometown - Oulu, Finland.

He said they all spoke highly of the Flyers organization, which was one of the reasons he chose to sign in Philadelphia.


Prediction time! I'll stick my neck out. Here's your opening night Flyers roster:

(they'll carry one extra forward and one extra defenseman)

Goalies (2) Ray Emery, Brian Boucher

Defense (7) Chris Pronger, Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Randy Jones, Ryan Parent, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen.

Forwards (13) Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Mika Pyorala, Darroll Powe, Ian Laperriere, Daniel Carcillo, Blair Betts, Arron Asham, Riley Cote.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


O.K. so the Flyers lost to the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 in the first exhibition game last night.

What does this mean?

It means they can't win in Joe Louis Arena even when the games don't really count!

I jest, but it has been since the Reagan administration since they won a game there (11/4/88).

No, the loss means absolutely nothing.

But, the way certain players played means a lot.

Here's what I gleaned this morning after talking to some people who were in Detroit for the game (I wasn't by the way).

-Blair Betts is going to make this team as a depth center. Whether it's on the third or fourth line remains to be seen, but he's a good faceoff guy, and excellent penalty killer, and a classic mucker and grinder - which you all know the Flyers love. He was paired with Ian Laperriere on the top PK unit. Of course, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne were in the press box watching the game rather than playing in it, but methinks guys like Betts and Laperriere will make life easier on those two on the PK.

-James van Riemsdyk is being given every chance to make this team out of camp. I'm not saying that because he scored the only goal for the Flyers, but the fact is, they want to see what he can do playing with high-skill guys against other high-skill guys in game situations. From what I'm told the goal wasn't anything pretty, and maybe even should have been stopped by Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, and van Riemsdyk did have a couple of other moments where he looked every bit the 20-year-old rookie and not a budding superstar. While he will garner serious consideration, I still think he starts the year in the AHL with the Adirondack Phantoms (that's just as weird to type as it is to say, believe me) but makes it to the big club by the Holidays.

-Chris Pronger logged 26 minutes of ice time. How's that for a first day with a new team? If there was still any doubt that he was going to be the go-to hammer on the blue line, that should settle it. I know Kimmo Timonen sat out the game, but expect Pronger to be right around 25 minutes every night.

-The Flyers remained undisciplined, giving Detroit 7 power play opportunities. They held Detroit off the scoreboard with the man advantage, but bear in mind the Wings didn't have all of their bullets. If there's one thing the Flyers should have learned from last year it's this: too many penalties wear you out. No matter how good the penalty killers are, they're skating through pudding in the third period if they've had to spend 12-15 minutes killing penalties. These Flyers need to learn how to draw the line of discipline.

-Ray Emery was sharp, stopping 23 of 25 shots in the first two periods and especially looked good when the team was shorthanded. Brian Boucher had a decent third period, stopping nine of the 10 shots he faced. I know it's only one exhibition game, but I'm starting to get the sense, after talking to Emery and getting a glimpse into his outlook for the season, that the Flyers goaltending situation will finally be settled. Of course, it could blow up if any of Razor's past demons reappear, but he seems hell-bent on that not happening this time around. Good for him and likewise, good for the Flyers.

-Finns Mika Pyorala and Joonas Lehtivuori got a long look last night, and from the accounts I was able to glean, both played well. The Flyers like both players and think they have NHL futures. Right now I think Pyorala, who is a more mature 28-year old, has a better than average chance of cracking the Flyers roster out of camp. Lehtivuori will likely be the top call-up from the Phantoms in case of injury and is probably No. 8 on the defensive depth chart right now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The Flyers split their camp in half today and had a pair of two-period scrimmages.

Some highlights:

-Jeff Carter scored two goals in the opener.
-Johan Backlund was shaky, allowing five goals.
-Once again, Mika Pyorala made an impression with fine-two way play skating mostly along side Carter and Scott Hartnell. Pyorala probably has passed Patrick Maroon on the depth chart (Maroon also skated on Carter's line) and has a real legit shot of making the final roster now.
-David Laliberte had a nice goal in the second scrimmage, which proved to be the game-winner as Ray Emery pitched a shutout in goal.
-Even though they didn't score, coach John Stevens was impressed with the line of Claude Giroux centering Danny Briere and James Van Riemsdyk. Look for that line to get a look in at least one of the upcoming exhibition games.
-Riley Cote buried defensemen Brennan Yadlowski - who is in camp on an amateur tryout contract - with a brutal check in the second game. Yadlowski had to be helped off the ice and was evaluated by team trainers. He seemed o.k. afterwards. Cote said he felt sorry he hit the kid so hard.
-Simon Gagne played in the scrimmage, but don't expect him in the lineup right away during the preseason. A team source said the plan is for Gagne to skip the first two preseason games, but to play in Toronto Saturday.
-At the end of the second scrimmage, Van Riemsdyk had a phenomenal breakaway goal that beat Emery during a shootout drill. The crowd ooohhed and aaahhhed at the goal and deservedly so. Van Riemsdyk told me after the scrimmage he intends on making the team out of camp. I still think he'll follow Giroux's path instead - half season with the Phantoms, then get the call up.
-Stevens can't stop talking about the Finns in camp. We know he's high on Pyorala, but he's also been pumping up defenseman Joonas Lehtivouri. Methinks he's shooting up the depth chart as well, but probably falls just short of making the team.
-As for who is going on the trip for the 3 exhibition games this week, the Flyers are taking 35 players. I'll provide the list in a minute, but John Stevens said there are a handful of other guys not going who would still get consideration for the final roster. That said, I think your 2009-2010 Flyers roster comes from this within this list:

Goalies: Ray Emery, Brian Boucher, Johann Backlund.

Defensemen: Chris Pronger, Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Parent, Randy Jones, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Danny Syvret, Oskars Bartulis, Joonas Lehtivouri, Logan Stephenson.

Forwards: Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, Darroll Powe, Ian Laperriere, Daniel Carcillo, Blair Betts, Arron Asham, Riley Cote, Mark Bell, Andreas Nodl, Jonathon Kalinski, Krys Kolanos, Jared Ross, Matt Clackson, David Laliberte.

Look for more on the Flyers in tomorrow's print edition of the Daily Times or on

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The Flyers announced today that they added two forwards to their training camp roster, one which may prove to be interesting.

Joining camp on tryout contracts will be lefty centers Blair Betts and Adrian Foster.

Betts, 29, spent the last four seasons as a grind-it-out forward with the New York Rangers.

Another fourth line role player type (as if there aren't a lot of those in camp already) Betts does bring a solid defensive presence to the forward position, and has the tools to beat someone out for a job if he applies himself.

Foster, 26, was a first round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2001, but never panned out, spending six years mired in the AHL before playing in Austria in 2008-09, where he finally started to show some promise, amassing 43 points in 52 games.

Considering the Flyers seem to be lacking the same kind of quality depth at forward as they had a season ago, there could be opportunities for the likes of these players - especially Betts with all his NHL experience - to have a shot at making the team.

Training camp officially opens Saturday and I'll be there. Rookie camp is already under way. Hockey season is back upon us already. Where did the summer go?