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, March 30, 2011


An NHL source confirmed for me this morning that Pittsburgh Penguins star center Sidney Crosby will practice with his team for the first time tomorrow after missing nearly three months with concussion related problems.

Crosby has been skating on his own for the past week or so, but there has been no timetable for his return.

In a joint effort with my colleague Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, it was learned late last night that Crosby was traveling with the team on its road trip to Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale this week.

This has to be good news for Pens fans and has to give Flyers fans pause. Because the Pens were a pretty stout team without their best player and if he's well enough to play at an elite level in the playoffs, can make a potential matchup with Pittsburgh in the second or third round all the more dangerous.

Look for more of this later today and tomorrow both here and in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review at

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 21, 2011


First we had the secret pickle juice concoction in Philadelphia - now this:

During home games, the Flyers have a special slushy machine that replenishes the sodiums lost during play and at the same time cools the core body temperature to maximize performance.

The machines, which are situated in the home locker room; spin non-stop and look like the old Ice-ee machines that used to be behind the snack counter at Woolworth's.

"We do heat rate studies and sweat rate studies just like the NFL does," Flyers' trainer Jim McCrossin said recently. "What our research has been on is electrolytes and how to get the proper amount of electrolytes back into the players. Each individual loses electrolytes at a different rate. That's why we do sweat rate studies. We want to know what electrolytes they're losing most and whatever it is, that's what we have to replace."

Which is where the slushy machine comes in. Made from a green tea extract, the slushies are designed to recharge the batteries between periods or even during the games themselves.

"Once your core temperature reaches 106 you start to die," McCrossin said. Some of our shifts we are getting up to 103 and then come back down, then go back up the next shift before coming back down and the cycle continues.

"What we want to do at intermission is cool down the core temperature as much as possible and get the sodium back in because you don't want fatigue and make sure the players are getting fluid."

The slushies, much like the pickle juice did for the Eagles several seasons ago, has worked wonders and it should be no surprise that it was Eagles' trainer Rick Burkholder who came across this method first.

Always trying to be at the forefront of maximizing athletic performance, Burkholder read about slushies being used in Australia by rugby and Aussie rules football teams.

So, in conjunction with Dr. Sandy Fowkes Godek, the director of the HEAT institute and professor of Sports Medicine at West Chester University, Burkholder brought the slushies to the Eagles locker room.

The Flyers also work with Godek doing sweat rate studies and heat rate studies - once early in the season when rinks are cooler and once again just before the playoffs when rinks are warmer - to determine what players are losing which electrolytes and when.

What the Flyers have found is that North American-born players sweat a lot more than western European-born players (Russians sweat about the same as the North Americans).

"Kimmo Timonen, who plays as much as he does, hardly sweats at all while (Brian Boucher) sweats like a mad dog," McCrossin said.

There is no hard evidence as to why that is, but the best guesstimate is based on diets over the course of a lifetime and how they are expansively different here than in Europe.

Still, Boucher has been the prize pupil, so to speak, with the slushies.

"We only have it at home and I can't remember the last time I played at home, but I do use it a lot at practice," Boucher said. "I sweat a ridiculous amount and they keep me cool and fresh."

McCrossin suggested that it has helped Boucher in other ways too. Boucher would frequently cramp up from sweating so profusely, but ever since the slushies became part of the daily routine, there's been no cramping.

"As I've gotten older I've been more conscious of staying hydrated," Boucher said. "The slushies have been great."

Boucher, when playing at the Wells Fargo Center will down two slushies per period in lieu of Gatorade. During practice, he averages four slushies in an hour.

Other players are buying into the recovery power of slushies and many are frequently seen downing a cup or two post game.

"No other teams in hockey use the slushies, so don't share our secret until we win the Cup," McCrossin said.

Um... Too late.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011


Chris Pronger spoke for the first time this morning since having surgery on his right hand that will keep him out of the lineup for about a month.

Pronger didn't say anything unexpected, but admitted it will be difficult to sit out this next few weeks with the team in a battle for the top spot in both the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division.

"It’s never easy being hurt and sitting out," he said. "You want to be part of the team, part of the action and playing. So, yeah it sucks. But I have to use this time wisely and make sure that when I do get back and can jump in seamlessly."

Pronger admitted that he tried to play through the injury, but that it didn't seem to feel right and progressively got worse.

"Nothing was showing up on the x-ray but it continued to stay weak," he said. "It wouldn’t get any better during the off days and it was getting weaker after playing. So we had a CT scan and it showed up and decided to get it fixed."

Pronger said his timetable is pretty much set to where the bandages will come off Sunday and he will be put in a splint and then next week he will start skating to get his game legs back and follow a well-designed rehab program over the next few weeks to strengthen his hand.

In the meantime, Erik Gustafsson and/or Nick Boynton will take his place in the lineup.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Here's a question for the coach that we didn't ask at the press conference, but probably should have:

Why is Kris Versteeg on the ice in the final minute of a game when you are trying to protect a one goal lead?

First, here's an assessment of Versteeg:

Good offensive player. Quality backchecker. God awful with the puck in his own end. I mean seriously, how many more bad turnovers is this guy going to make in crucial situations?

I felt bad for him in the locker room. No one was talking to him. I walked over, and said, "Were you trying to chip the puck to Matt Carle behind the net?"

"Yeah," he said somberly.

"What happened, did you just chunk it," I asked.

"Yeah," the same somber response.

"So it hit the side of the net and took a bad bounce out front?"


This from a guy who likes to talk!

But it was more than just the one turnover. He had an equally egregious gaffe in the 7-0 embarrassment in New York last Sunday.

Then he took a dumb interference penalty that led to Enstrom's goal that cut the lead to 4-3 inside of three minutes to play.

And from what I've been told, it's a bit chronic. One NHL scout recently said to me that Versteeg is "an unconscious gambler" with the puck.

"He takes too many risks in too many areas of the ice that you can't afford to take chances," the scout said. "That kind of play is going to come back and bite you in the butt."

He wasn't the reason they lost in New York. He wasn't the reason they lost to Atlanta.

But he was a big part of both.

And aside from a three game stretch where he played some inspired hockey, Versteeg has proven to be a bit of a disappointment thus far.

He has 4 goals and two assists for 6 points and is a minus-1 in 13 games.

When you add in the mistakes and the untimely penalties, it hardly seems like he has been worth the price the Flyers paid.

It's a small sample for sure. And Versteeg could prove to be a nice piece before the end of the regular season, let alone the playoffs.

But for now, he's a bit of a head-scratcher.


One other query... Why has Laviolette given the team off again Sunday? That's three off days and one practice day in a week. That NEVER happens in the NHL.

There's got to be something up with the Flyers on that front too. What it is exactly though remains to be seen.


PHILADELPHIA – Despite Chris Pronger missing a third game with his hand injury, despite him sporting a new, soft cast on his hand, and despite the fact that he has seen not one but two hand specialists, general manager Paul Holmgren is downplaying the injury.
Still insisting that Pronger is day-to-day with a mysterious injury to his right hand suffered when he blocked a shot against the New York Islanders Feb. 24, Holmgren said Pronger will make the road trip with the team and likely could return to the lineup this week.
“He was better in practice,” Holmgren said. “That’s all we can go by. We’re hoping by the next game he’s ready to play. His grip strength is getting better. We’ll see how it goes.”
Holmgren said he is not worried about how long Pronger will be out of the lineup because of the depth the team has on defense.
“I happen to like it when (Andrej) Meszaros, (Matt) Carle and (Braydon) coburn play more minutes,” Holmgren said.
Pronger has met with team hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, who is based in Baltimore and is considered the leading hand specialist in the U.S., and has also been examined by Dr. Randall Culp of the Philadelphia Hand Specialists who is affiliated with Methodist Hospital.
All x-rays and MRI’s have been negative so far.
“There’s obviously something going on in there that’s inhibiting his strength,” Holmgren said. “Obviously if you’re a hockey player you can’t play if you can’t grip your stick.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Credit Jeff Carter for giving it the old college try Saturday.

Fresh off a nasty flu virus and an emotional trip home to Canada for his grandfather's funeral, Carter played Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres.

However, after trying to do his pregame warmup routine Sunday at Madison Square Garden, Carter cut his workout short, hit the showers, dressed in his suit and headed home before the game even started.

Jody Shelley, who was a healthy scratch Saturday along with Dan Carcillo and Nick Boynton, will be back in the lineup.

Look for more on this and a lot more Flyers coverage later today and tomorrow as sports editor Rob Parent joins me in New York today for the big Atlantic Division matchup.