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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Before Tuesday's 5-2 over the Canadiens, we caught up with Daniel Carcillo, who found out he was in the lineup for a second straight game while James van Riemsdyk rested his tweaked lower body.

Here's what Danny had to say:

"It's frustrating not playing. I got to play (Sunday), went in there and played my game. You have to play well because you know if you don't you're going to come right back out. There's a little more emphasis on your game. You got to bring what he (coach Peter Laviolette) wants to see. Everyone here has their roles. Once I get a chance to play my job is to bring energy, get the guys going. Give hits, stuff like that.

"Obviously you want to be playing. It sucks big time not playing. Especially with the guys doing well. When you win, you don't come out of the lineup, so hopefully I can keep contributing and keep winning.

"I don't talk to him (Laviolette) much. We don't talk much. I know what I have to do. I just have to skate and hit every game and bring energy. That's what he wants out of me every game. Whether it be with (Mike Richards) and (Andreas) Nodl or with (Jody) Shelley and (Blair) Betts you know you're going to see the same game from me.

"I get a long with everybody and I've made a lot of friends here. It's a tough situation for sure. It's not something I thought I'd be in this year, but it is what it is. It's a roller coaster. It's ups and downs."

Sounds like Carcillo and Laviolette don't quite see eye to eye.

However, Carcillo made a case to stay in the lineup after the All-Star break with a goal in the win over the Habs. He also stirred the pot a few times and really got under the skin of the Canadiens in the six short minutes of ice he got before being banished to the locker room in the third period with a misconduct.

"When Danny plays in the lineup he needs to continue to do what he did against Chicago. He played an aggressive game and he skated well. It's always a little easier when he's playing with Mike not from a personnel standpoint but from a minutes standpoint. Mike's line gets out there on a pretty regular basis. He was in the game and active and he did a good job with his physical presence."

So, should he stay in the lineup?

There are those who argue he should be ahead of Shelley because he brings more skill, but the fact is, Carcillo is not an enforcer, Shelley is.

Also, Shelley is well-liked in the locker room and is a respected voice on the bench as well.

So, who comes out?

Sunday, January 23, 2011


With Sidney Crosby and Evegeni Malkin backing out of next week's All-Star game with injuries, the NHL's hockey operations department has to find replacements.

They might have been thinking about Mike Richards, who until Claude Giroux's four-point ouburst in today's 4-1 win in Chicago, was the Flyers' leading scorer.

Not only would Richards be ideal because the Flyers are the best team in the NHL record-wise - but Richards would give the league a little name recognition to replace the hurt of losing it's star player - Crosby - and one of the game's other big names in Malkin.

However, the NHL can scratch Richards off the list.

"It's not too late for them to ask me, but it's too late for me to say yes that I would go," Richards said after the game. "I've already made too many commitments to too many people (for next weekend) and for be to cancel on them last minute wouldn't be good."

Richards has 44 points this season, which ranks him tied for 14th in the league. Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg is the only higher-scoring player in the league who wasn't selected to participate in the game and reports are that he made it known he wouldn't go to rest some nagging injuries that he is playing through in games that matter.

So, Richards is definitely deserving - but he won't be there - now by his own choice.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The never-ending joke that is the NHL disciplinary system provided a few more sarcastic chuckles Monday evening.

That's because NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, whose fines and suspensions stagger across the map more than the town drunkard on his way home from the local tavern, slapped Flyers' forward Danny Briere with a $1,000 fine for ... well... nothing.

As Sunday's 3-2 Flyers' win over the New York Rangers was concluding, two Flyers' players - Briere and Scott Hartnell - took a swipe at Rangers' forward Brandon Prust from the bench as Prust skated by.

Already perturbed at the Rangers' guerrilla tactics from earlier in the game - namely Sean Avery ambushing Matt Carle from behind and pummeling the pacifistic Flyers' defenseman in a ... ahem... fight, both players again became incensed after Prust leveled Kimmo Timonen after he cleared the puck from the Flyers' zone, securing the win.

It was a clean check, but it was probably unnecessary considering the time of the game it occurred.

As Prust skated by, first Hartnell, then Briere, took a gloved swipe at Prust. Hartnell clipped Prust in the helmet. Briere got nothing but air.

But Campbell, who seems to have a specific dislike for Briere, levied the fine for the swing and miss but looked past the one that made contact.

If he would answer a question about his decision, he would likely refer to Briere as a repeat offender, which made him subject to the fine, while Hartnell doesn't have that status.

But, Campbell refuses to answer such questions, and told one reporter Monday that what went into the decision was none of the media's business.


The Campbell-Briere tiff has been a discussion all season long.

Briere was suspended three games in November for a blow to the head of New York Islanders forward Franz Nielsen during a late October game.

Many felt the suspension was a little excessive, and Briere expressed his displeasure with Campbell afterward, saying Campbell had his mind made up before he ever spoke to Briere.

Briere was later left off the NHL All-Star roster despite obviously deserving a spot, and hinted that his reputation might have been what kept him off. Campbell was part of the hockey operations committee that decided a majority of the players participating in the game.

Now comes this suspension.

The Flyers released a statement that they would not have any further comment publicly about the fine. However, a team source told me Monday night that they vehemently expressed their displeasure with this latest fine.

Meanwhile, Avery slithered away scott free again despite his snake-like antics.

Briere has now been fined a whopping $239,000 this season by the NHL.

Can't wait for the next punchline... or in this case... phantom punch-line.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Sitting here stuck in Buffalo with my fellow beat reporters hoping for something, anything, to do to break the monotony of a looking at snow out the hotel window.

The Flyers tried to provide such a little nugget of information.

Chris Pronger, who has been recovering from foot surgery last month, has been cleared to participate fully in practice with the Flyers after a visit to the doctor today.

He likely would have joined the team in Boston, but nothing is getting in or out of Bean Town because of a blizzard that is rocking the city (which is why I'm still in Buffalo).

As such, Pronger will meet the team in Atlanta Friday, although I find that perplexing as well as the team doesn't usually have a game-day practice (morning skate) when they play on back-to-back days.

The expectation is the target date for Pronger's return is next Tuesday when the Flyers come home to play the Washington Capitals, but he will likely need a few good practices before that can happen.

As for his teammates, their charter flight made it into Boston's Logan Airport just before the big storm hit very early this morning (just before 1 a.m.). However, they are snowed into their hotel and had to cancel practice today.

Peter Laviolette said the team went to a fitness club next door to the hotel for a team workout, but that was about all that could be done as the rest of the city is shut down.

The hope is we can finally get out of here and join the team tomorrow in Boston, but we are at the mercy of the snow at this point.

Stay warm.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Leave it to the NHL to make pointless All-Star games even worse.

It's probably not worth going off on a big rant here, because it is the All-Star game after all, a meaningless game that no one really cares about but the NHL is going to market like it matters, but the fact of the matter is, whoever the NHL operations department consists of that selected this team sure fell way short of putting together a compelling list of players.

Certainly there are those that deserve to be part of the festivities. The faces of the league, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are going to be there. Not to mention, the league unveiled the uniforms for the All-Star Game Tuesday and while they aren't exactly like the Winter Classic Jerseys worn by the Capitals and Penguins - they sure do bear some striking similarities.

Other players deserve to be there too, like Martin St. Louis, the Sedin Twins in Vancouver and even though he is the hometown guy, Eric Staal is having a nice season.

They even went so far as to get it right and recognize some unheralded players having
fine seasons - like Louis Erikson in Dallas, Ryan Kesler in Vancouver, Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles and Patrick Sharp in Chicago.

But, to litter the roster with undeserving players, and players who don't have a lot of cache in the name recognition department only makes for a more uninteresting matchup.

It's bad enough that the ballot box stuffers in Pittsburgh and Chicago got Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Toews into the All-Star game this season when they aren't having All-Star seasons, but that's forgiveable, because hey, it's fans. They don't know what the heck they're talking about, but they drive the product by constantly spending money to see it, so they should get to see who they want, regardless of how biased their voting might be.

But, for the NHL people to include players like Patrick Elias (nine goals and a minus-11), Phil Kessel (62nd in the league in scoring and a minus-15), Ales Hemsky (124th in the NHL in scoring), Erik Karlsson (minus-11 and 15th in scoring among deensemen)and Cam Ward(17th in the NHL in goals against) is puzzling.

I'm not even sure guys like David Backes, Patrick Kane, Brent Burns, Mike Green, Marc Staal, Jonas Hiller or Henrik Lundqvist belonged.

Not when the following players were snubbed:


Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) and Martin Havlat (MIN) - highest scoring players in the NHL (38 each - ranks in top 20) not selected while at least seven forwards with fewer points made it.

Paul Stastny - only the best player on an overachieving Colorado Avalanche team whose numbers are identical to Jarome Iginla, who made the team.

Dany Heatley, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards and Teemu Selanne - four players having solid years with a little name recognition that would have spiced up the lineup. Instead, the league felt Backes, Elias, Hemsky, and Kessel were better choices.

Danny Briere - Only eight players in the NHL have at least 20 goals this season. Seven of them are all stars. Briere is the only one who isn't, and it's because the league has an agenda with him - more on that in a story for tomorrow.


Lubomir Visnovsky - raise your hand if you thought the Ducks were a contender this year. Visnovsky has been excellent with 33 points and a plus-6.

Jon-Michael Liles and Brian Rafalski - two U.S. defenseman getting no love - but with 30 points each and strong defensive numbers, they have to be better choices than either Burns or Karlsson - not to mention would have at least been recognizable to NBC viewers in the States.

How can anyone not be impressed with Ryan Whitney on a bad Edmonton team? His stats - 2-25-27, plus-13. Another American left out.

Oh, and the guy that sort of replaced Whitney in Pittsburgh - Alex Gologoski. He's 7-16-23 plus-20. O.K. We get it. It's Canada's game. Now, pick the most deserving players, please?

Wait, more U.S. snubs?

How about Jonathan Quick (2.18 GAA, .920 SvPct.)? He's got to be a better choice than Ward, Carey Price and Jonas Hiller based on his stats, no?

But, quick isn't the biggest goalie snub.

How about Pekka Rinne in Nashville? The Finn has super numbers (2.16, .926).
Or Ondrej Pavelec, who is singlehandedly turning the Atlanta Thrashers into a playoff team? His 2.33, .930 is better than Roberto Luongo - who I can also make a case for ahead of Ward and Hiller.

In total, of the 42 players playing in front of a national TV audience in the United States, only six are American.

That's not to say the NHL should have used that as a starting point - because if Americans didn't deserve to go, then they shouldn't be there just because they are American.

But if they did deserve to go, that should carry some weight.

So should name recognition.

Or being one of the best goal-scorers in the game.

Of course, none of this matters in the NHL, where everything is done bass-ackwards. Hope they're ready for bad ratings in the U.S. (with the exception of Pittsburgh and Chicago).

(NOTE: Not every team needed to be represented among the 42 players in the All-Star game. Also, I'm not a big fan of plus-minus rating, but I used that in lieu of advanced statistics because, after all, this game is for a casual audience.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011


It's been a staple in newspapers for years:

Beat reporter covering a team assigns mid-term grades to players and coaches after the game that represents the mid-point of a season.

Like we really should be the ones holding the red pens.

To be honest, I've never liked the concept, and have tried avoiding it in the past, or at least tried to put a sarcastic spin on the process to make it different.

All previous attempts have failed.

so, now I have just decided to conform, but do so in a much more efficient manner.

See, when we printed it in the newspaper, we had to fill a certain amount of space, so we had to really sell our grades to the readers, which made the project all the more loathsome.

But, I decided to put it on the blog instead. That way I can keep it simple and not have to really make this whole farcical process worse than it has to be.

So, without further delay: My mid-term grades. I'm sure you could convince me to change them if you disagree: (players listed in numerical order)

Oskars Bartulis - C - Not sure it would be higher if he had played more.

Braydon Coburn - B+ - Got off to a really good start then leveled off - still, a solid defenseman.

Sean O'Donnell - B - Would be higher, but he tapered off after being separated from Andrej Meszaros.

Blair Betts - B- - Not as good in the faceoff circle as last year, and not as dominant on the PK without Ian Laperriere as his partner.

Daniel Carcillo - C - Not really a Laviolette type player. Doesn't really have a role.

Andreas Nodl - A - Maybe the most pleasant surprise on the roster this season.

Jeff Carter - B+ - Just wish he wouldn't go in spurts. If he was more consistent, he'd be an A.

Mike Richards - A - Certainly the Flyers most valuable player even if he hasn't been the first half MVP (read that a couple times, it will eventually make sense to you).

Scott Hartnell - B+ - and he gets the additional most improved player award.

Chris Pronger - B - Was slowed by injury early, made a nice comeback - now hurt again. Should be an A by year's end.

James van Riemsdyk - B - He was an F through mid-November, so this tells you how far he's come.

Ville Leino - B+ - I think everyone from me to the coaches to his linemates to the fans wish he'd shoot more... still, a beast with the puck and a heck of a playmaker.

Matt Carle - B - Not as strong as last season, but hasn't had a healthy Pronger next to him all season either.

Claude Giroux - B+ - Tapered off a little lately, but has had an offensive breakout season.

Brian Boucher - A - In my mind anyway, has been the first-half co-MVP. He has the mental makeup to carry it through the rest of the season too.

Sergei Bobrovsky - A- - For adapting as quickly as he has, he's been an A+, but he also has fallen off a tad too. But, with Boosh rolling, he doesn't need to be perfect.

Darroll Powe - B - Has filled in admirably for Laperriere on the PK.

Andrej Meszaros - A - Holmgren's best move of the offseason. The guy has been a superb, all-around defenseman.

Kimmo Timonen - A- - The guy who keeps the defense together and the quiet leader in the locker room. Underrated star on this team.

Jody Shelley - B- - Has played his role well... and a great guy in the locker room.

Danny Briere - A - The other co-MVP with Boucher. Nice to see him finally having the kind of year so many people expected him to have in Philly - including Briere himself.

Nik Zherdev - C - The guy can score. He's an offensive whiz. He does nothing else and frustrates the organization in the process.

Peter Laviolette - A - Has to be the early leader in the race for the Jack Adams Award, no?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The New Jersey Devils scratched veteran captain Jamie Langenbrunner prior to Thursday's game with the Philadelphia Flyers and asked him to waive his no trade clause.

Why is this interesting to Flyers fans?

Because the Flyers are pushing hard to get Langenbrunner.

I talked to a source familiar with both sides of the deal tonight and I was told that Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello called the Flyers a few days ago asking if they were interested in Langenbrunner, who makes $2.8 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Not coincidentally, the Flyers waived Michael Leighton that same day, creating cap room to acquire a player of Langenbrunner's ilk.

The source said the Flyers offered the Devils "draft picks" in exchange for Langenbrunner but have not heard back from Lamoriello since, making the Flyers believe the Devils' GM had gotten a better offer somewhere else.

However, playing in the Flyers favor is the notion that Langenbrunner will only waive his no trade clause to go to a contender, and that team would either have to be on the East Coast - so his family can stay put, or back to Dallas, where he made his bones in the NHL.

Some reports are suggesting Washington and Boston could be frontrunners, but the Caps' don't make much sense - they have enough up front. Boston is a legit possibility though, however the Flyers are going to try to convince Lamoriello otherwise.

According to the source, Flyers' G.M. Paul Holmgren was spending his time at the Prudential Center Thursday hunting down Lamoriello trying to work the deal.

However, it should be noted, Lamoriello has never orchestrated a trade with the Flyers, and might choose to send Langenbrunner outside of the Atlantic Division before helping a chief rival.

Stay tuned as the drama continues...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


When you have the best record in the league, it usually means things are puttering along rather smoothly.

And while the Flyers can't complain right now, they are perfectionists, and still have some concerns.

Like special teams.

When John Stevens was the coach, he used to add his power play percentage to his penalty kill rate.

"Anything above 103 and you're happy," he once said.

Right now the Flyers are at 98.7.

Not bad for a body temperature, but Stevens would tell you the Flyers have work to do.

And they wouldn't disagree with their former coach.

Both the power play and the penalty kill have been inconsistent this season, which is why the PP finds itself tied for 17th in the league (17.1 pct.) and the PK is tied for 16th (81.6 pct.)

"We have to find a way to improve it," Danny Briere said. "We know we can be better in those areas." But, not everything can be perfect all the time. If it were we'd be winning games 7-1, 8-1 every night. Come to think of it, if that happened we'd start complaining that we can't play in close games."

There have been a lot of reasons the Flyers can't get rolling on special teams. On the PP players have said there's a lack of movement at times, an unwillingness to create traffic at others, or even trying to be too cute when a simpler approach would likely prove successful.

As for the PK, well, let's just say this unit really misses Ian Laperriere this season.

Not to mention, Chris Pronger has also been out of the lineup, and he is an integral piece to both special teams units, so it's understandable that they are a middling bunch right now.

However, they need to get them right by April as special teams is a crucial aspect to playoff success.

"You go through times in the season where things either go your way or don't go your way on special teams," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've still been able to win games, but we have to keep working at it. Something is always going on. You're always working on something... The penalty kill has done a decent job. We seem to do everything right and then there seems to be a rebound or a backdoor goal of some kind... but we have the right people on the ice."


In other news...

- Chris Pronger was cleared today to begin light skating tomorrow. He will have his healing foot (fractured metatarsal) re-evaluated again next Wednesday.

- Nik Zherdev skipped practice again with a groin injury. He is doubtful for tomorrow's game in New Jersey.

- If the Flyers sweep the Devils tomorrow and Saturday, Laviolette will be named the second coach for the All-Star game in Carolina Jan. 30. Asked for his thoughts on that:
"I'd rather not get into that right now," he said. "We have two big games coming up and I'd rather get two wins than look ahead to Fantasy land."

Monday, January 3, 2011


The Flyers made a bold move and placed Michael Leighton on waivers today.

(To hear audio of Paul Holmgren talking about this move go here.)

That temporarily solves the logjam in goal on the current roster.

A move was expected - and smartly the Flyers chose to move Leighton, who was the most expendable at the time, never mind what he did for the team last season that earned him that brand-spanking new two-year contract last summer.

The move is certainly injury-related. Leighton played his first official game since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last week and looked very shaky in a 7-4 Flyers' win in Los Angeles.

His back surgery and subsequent problems with his leg have certainly slowed him up.

Unable to trade him - and there were/are teams in need of cheap goaltending - the Flyers had no choice but to waive him, and hope he clears waivers so they can send him to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL.

Ultimately, at this point, the plan is to go with red-hot Brian Boucher, who improved to 7-1-1 in his last nine starts Sunday with a 3-2 win in Detroit on his 34th birthday, and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been dealing with confidence issues since his red hot start to the season.

Boucher is in the last year of his deal and Leighton is signed for next year. Likely, Leighton will spend the rest of the year with the Phantoms and then be brought back as a backup to Bobrovsky next season as Boucher becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Leighton got that start in L.A. as the Flyers tried to determine what the best course of action would be for their goaltending dilemma.

If he had a good-to-great game, he would have either increased his trade value - and maybe Tampa Bay would have traded for him rather than Dwayne Roloson, or maybe the FLyers would have sent Bobrovsky to the Phantoms to get him some needed work in low-pressure situations while Leighton and Boucher shared NHL duties.

However, Leighton didn't perform well against the Kings, and if anything, hurt his value with at least two horrible goals against.

This left the Flyers little choice but to waive him.

If he's claimed during the waiver process, the claiming team will be responsible for his entire contract. If he goes unclaimed, he will be sent to the Phantoms and can only be brought back to the Flyers if he cleared waivers a second time - this time with teams being able to get him at half-price with the Flyers on the hook for the other half of the salary (remember Randy Jones?)

Paul Holmgren will address this problem later today and I will have audio available immediately here on the blog through my twitter feed (@anthonysan37) to the right.

Stay tuned.