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.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Classic: LaBelle to sing anthem

According to a league source, I have learned that Philadelphia native Patti LaBelle will sing the National Anthem prior to the start of the winter Classic Jan. 2.

Lauren Hart, the Flyers usual anthem singer, will still sing God Bless America, but I am told it will be at some point during the game, not before it, a la the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game.

There remains the possibility (probability?) of other acts performing as pre-game entertainment, but those names haven't been leaked just yet.

In case you want to see the difference between Lauren Hart and Patti LaBelle, here is LaBelle singing the anthem at the 2008 World Series.

All I have to say is hey, at least the Phillies won:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jagr back in BIg Apple, Briere out of the lineup

NEW YORK – Like many people, Jaromir Jagr is going home for the holidays.
Well, sort of.
Jagr returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time since leaving the Rangers to play in Russia following the 2008 playoffs.
Then next week, Jagr gets to go back to Pittsburgh, the place he won two Stanley Cups and a town that feels like they were spurned by him badly last summer when he chose to play in Philadelphia rather than go back to the Penguins.
“It’s part of the business of hockey but hopefully it’s not going to be as bad as Pittsburgh will be,” Jagr said of his return to the Big Apple. “It was hard in Pittsburgh before but it’s going to be crazy next week. I don’t know what to expect in New York, but in Pittsburgh, I know what to expect.”
If nothing else, Jagr had some positive recollections about his time spent with the Rangers and their organization.
“I cannot say one bad thing about the Rangers,” Jagr said. “They were good to me. The city, the organization – everybody. It was right after the lockout and the Rangers hadn’t made the playoffs in eight years and we had an unknown team and nobody was giving us any credit. Coach Tom Renney did a great job. Too bad I got injured before the playoffs my first year because I thought we could go very far.”
Despite his warm sentiments, it was a sure bet before the game even began that the always passionate New York fan base would greet him with a lusty boo.
And they didn’t disappoint.
However , those fans should remember that Jagr was the key piece to turning the Rangers from a perennial loser back into a playoff contender.
As a matter of fact, the last game Jagr played in Madison Square Garden was Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh.
In that game, with his team on the brink of being swept by the Pens, Jagr scored two goals and added an assist to have a hand in all three Rangers goals in a 3-0 victory for New York.
They would go on to lose the series in five games.
The last time Jagr played a game in Manhattan as a visiting player dates all the way back to January, 2003 as a member of the Washington Capitals. In that game, which ended in a 2-2 tie (remember those) Jagr was held scoreless and finished a minus-1.
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Danny Briere became the latest Flyer to join a crowded team infirmary.
Briere missed Friday’s game with the Rangers suffering from what the team called a bruised hand. General manager Paul Holmgren listed him as day-to-day in an emailed injury report.
Briere apparently hurt his right hand against Dallas Wednesday, getting slashed by a Dallas player during a scrum. A screenshot captured by a Versus camera during the game shows the ring finger on Briere’s hand looking bruised and swollen.
Replays appear to show that a stick caught Briere’s hand hard, but it was difficult to tell which Stars player the stick belonged to, although both Vernon Fiddler and Mark Fistric where in the vicinity.
With Briere out of the lineup, it was assumed Ben Holmstrom would be re-inserted.
Uh, not so fast.
Instead, with the HBO cameras rolling and the hockey world watching what is a tune up for the Winter Classic, the Flyers chose to dress Jody Shelley while keeping Zac Rinaldo and Tom Sestito in the lineup as well.
Dressing all the big boys meant the plan was to approach this Rangers game physically.
“The Rangers have played well to this point and there’s no mistaking that they’re in the top of the conference,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’ve done it by finding a strong team identity and playing it hard to find success. That’s what makes the game exciting. There was more talk about not losing sight of things in a game against Dallas – a Western Conference team in the middle of a long, long month for us. This is a game that doesn’t need a whole lot of words. That energy, man I hope we have it and we have more pop than we know what to do with. Given that choice I’d rather have all that energy and let it out.”
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NOTES: Both rookies Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, sidelined with concussions, skated Friday in Voorhees at the Flyers’ practice facility. It was Couturier’s first skating session. Both players are considered day-to-day… Matt Walker joined Holmstrom as a healthy scratch… The Flyers will take off the next two days to celebrate the Christmas Holiday. They return to practice Monday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Blog following a Flyers win and a shoving match between coach and player

In the ever changing world of journalism, Newspapers are frequently leaning on their staff to find ways to include the readers in the coverage of news.

In some circles it's called crowdsourcing. In others it's called engaging your readership.

Well, I stuck my neck out tonight and took it a step further.

I got a fan a press credential and put him to work.

Rob Rowello, a South Philly native and resident of Wyncote, PA was in Dallas on business Wednesday and was looking for a ticket to the game.

I had a proposition - come to the game and write me a story for my blog. Rob agreed. And then went a lot further.

Who knew that on this night there would be a run in between Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Dallas Stars alternate captain Steve Ott?

With Claude Giroux returning from a concussion, I couldn't be in two places at the same time. So, I dispatched Rowello to the Stars locker room where he shot the video you'll see below and even asked Ott the direct question about the incident.

He then quickly posted the video to you tube where we exclusively tweeted it out.

All the while, he wrote a fine piece about his experience. Here it is below. Thanks Rob for the fine work.

Oh, and follow him on Twitter: @Rowello

Rob Rowello
Special Contributor to the Daily Times

DALLAS – It’s not every day when an average hockey fan like me gets a chance to experience an NHL game live from the press box. So when I recently got a call from my friend and former St. Joe’s Prep classmate, Anthony SanFilippo, who asked me to join him in Dallas to offer a “fan’s perspective” on how the media covers a hockey game, it was an offer I could not pass up, right?

I guess you can call me your typical 38-year-old Philadelphia sports fan - born and raised in South Philly on the Bullies (my mom still swears that she took me to the parade in ‘74) and the Flyers teams of the late 80’s (when we last had great goaltending).

Like most of us, I bleed orange and black, and have been to my fair share of games, experienced the highs of championship expectations, and suffered through the lows of heartbreaking endings. So, the idea of inviting me as a member of the “press” to cover a Flyers game was a very strange proposition for me.

I’ve heard from journalists before that once you cross over into the media, you become desensitized to the game and see things a lot differently. Plus acting like a “fan” in the press box is a no-no. The thought of me being at a Flyers game and not being able to cheer is like asking a hungry bear to not eat a trapped rabbit. Nature just doesn’t work that way. Usually.

So my journey into a “day in the life” of a beat writer started at the hotel, where I met up with Anthony before the game. For a typical fan like me, my game day experience starts at 7:05PM by turning on CSN or Versus.

I always knew that there was preparation required to cover a sports team like the Flyers, but I never realized how much preparation actually goes into it. Most journalists start their day by reading the opposing team’s home papers to get some insight and angles on the game. Then there’s the “morning skate sessions”, where the media is invited to cover the team during practice and interview the players afterward.

And the neverending tweets and the phone calls. It’s a 24/7 job, and every avenue is covered to bring the readers a unique perspective on the team and the game.

Two hours prior to puck drop, we arrived at the American Airlines Center to get some interview time with the coach and the players. I picked up my press credentials, and for a minute I actually felt official. We found our way to the press elevator, down to the “event level” where we made our way over to the Flyers locker room. After a quick chat with the Flyers media staff, an interview with Scotty Hartnell, and a bite to eat in the press dining room we headed up to the press box.

The one thing that stuck with me was how tightly knit the Philadelphia press community is. For a minute during dinner, I had a flashback of sitting around a table in my college cafeteria with some of my closest friends – the banter, stories, jokes.

The box at American Airlines Center is pretty spacious. Not as cramped and crowded as I imagined a press box being. To put things in perspective, the box is at the very top of the stadium (beyond the $9 cheap seats they sell here in Dallas), and there are two parallel rows of 90’ Formica countertops, with a bunch of really cheap (and very uncomfortable) desk chairs. I was assigned seat #18. I set up my laptop and iPad, and was ready for some action!

At 0:56 into the first period, Dallas drew first blood when Michael Ryder beat Sergei Bobrovsky glove side high. I stayed composed, no comments from the peanut gallery. At 8:30 in the first period, when Claude Giroux scored his first goal after returning to the lineup, my juices started flowing. Under my breath, I let out a slightly audible “yes!!”, but didn’t get any funny looks in the box.

I didn’t really cross the line until around 14:00 into the second period when Bobrovsky made two fantastic point-blank saves, and instinct kicked in hard. The bear ate the rabbit, and I bellowed out a big “yeah Bob!!” from the rafters, which drew a laugh and a head shake from Anthony.

By 5:22 into the third period, this game was pretty much history when Meszaros scored his 4th goal of the season to make it 4-1 Flyers. One final note on Giroux: I had my reservations when the Flyers announced he was coming back to the lineup this week, as I thought it was premature and rushed for an injury of his severity. But after putting up four points tonight, in an amazing show of skill, it’s clear the man is ready to play.

After the game, I had a chance to put my interviewing skills to the test. Anthony took the Flyers’ dressing room, and asked me to cover the Stars’ players, and specifically try to get something from Steve Ott on his brief exchange with Peter Laviolette at the end of the first period.

iPhone in hand, I muscled my way into the scrum of reporters in front of Ott, and fired away with a very succinct, yet point blank question, to which I got a very surprising reply. If you’re interested in the video, check it out on YouTube: “Steve Ott goes off on Laviolette”. (or see the video below)

So, in short, tonight’s “behind the scenes” experience was nothing short of impressive. I walk away tonight with a new respect for the men and women who work long hours and travel thousands of miles to bring home the stories for the teams we love. This is definitely every bit of a full time job, and I have witnessed the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to bring you that back page article. For me, I’m not quitting my day job. I think I’ll leave this one to the professionals and find a seat back on the couch.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Things looking up for #Hartnelldown

DENVER – Like any other hardcore Flyers fan, Seth Hastings was overtly frustrated with Scott Hartnell’s propensity to fall to the ice with regularity over the course of last season.
It got to be so ridiculous, in Hastings’ mind that he decided to keep track of every stumble publicly using his Twitter account (@SethDH) to memorialize each fall with the hash tag #Hartnelldown.
It quickly became a trending tag during Flyers games, with fans and media alike using it to reference every time Hartnell fell on his britches.
But something changed this season in a way that Hastings could never imagine.
Hartnell created his own Twitter account (@Hartsy19) and immediately followed Hastings. He reached out to Hastings to find out about the hash tag and decided that the two could work together to turn the tag into a positive.
“When I first saw it, I was kind of caught off guard,” Hartnell said. “I was like, ‘What is that’ because I didn’t know what it meant. I found out a little later that this count kept going up every time I fell down, so I could have hated it or embraced it.
“I talked to my agent and asked him if he thought it would be cool to make some t-shirts about it and take all the proceeds and give them to charity. He said, ‘let’s do it’ and within a couple of days I had the web site and the shirts. I tweeted about it and Seth was shocked that it got this big but he was excited t this was all going to charity so he was a good guy.”
The shirts, designed by Hartnell, feature the infamous hash tag on the front with the number 19 on the back and the words “down and dirty” on top of Hartnell’s Twitter handle.
They are available on Hartnell’s web site( all proceeds will be donated to charity.
Hartnell will give some money to local charities in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan that are recipients of money raised at the annual Scott Hartnell-Clark MacArthur Celebrity Golf Classic, and provide a couple of Philly area hockey players the chance to enroll in Minnesota Hockey Camps, a summer camp that hones hockey skills.
“Never in a million years did I expect this,” said Hastings, 26, a cook from Middletown, Pa (near Hershey) where he can be found serving up food at Hershey Park, the Giant Center and Hershey Park Stadium. “It started off as kind of a joke last year and then it took off when he joined Twitter and became a whole new beast.”
Hartnell called Hastings and offered him a pair of tickets to last Saturday’s loss to Boston and then met up with Hastings after the game and posed for pictures with the t-shirts.
“It’s wild,” Hastings said. “It’s what dreams are made of as a sports fan. You follow a team and at the end of the day the players are just normal guys when you get to meet them. It’s pretty cool to be associated with a guy who plays for the team who I love more than maybe life itself.”
Hartnell added that he’s going to try to convince some of his teammates to wear the shirts in the locker room once the Flyers get home so they can be seen on camera to promote the site even further.
It’s the least Hartnell’s teammates can do considering they give him as much grief – if not more – every time he falls to the ice.
“I’ve scored a couple of goals now where I’ve ended up on my butt and the counter goes up, so that’s a good thing,” Hartnell said. “You have to be light-hearted about it, you know? Every time I fall down in practice now all the boys start yelling ‘Hartnell Down,’ so that’s pretty good.”
So ,Hartnell has gone from social media whipping boy to Twitter darling this season – and not just because he’s having a very good season offensively.
it’s gone all the way from Twitter to charity, which is kind of surreal to me,” Hastings said.“It’s totally different now than when we first started. At the beginning it was more because everybody was ragging on Hartnell because of the contract he had and here he was falling down all the time, now he’s second on the team in goals and is a big contributor to the team and it has a whole different meaning .”
It does – but primarily because Hartnell has proven to be an athlete who gets it, and gets the fans, putting him into a refreshing minority.

Some other quick hitters for you….

-Jaromir Jagr and Jake Voracek are both wearing the letters “VH” on the back of their helmets tonight in tribute to former Czech President Vaclav Havel, who died over the weekend. Havel was instrumental in orchestrating the country’s freedom.

-Adrian Dater, the fine Avalanche beat writer from the Denver Post, asked Peter Laviolette today if he thought the art of the slapshot from a hard skating winger down the wall was a lost art. Lavvy had one gem of a response:
“I think the last real good one that we had, an old school, old-fashioned, slap drive was Jody Shelley’s in Atlanta last season,” Laviolette said. “It was world class, down the wing, blow it by you. It was epic. “Now, there’s time and space and gaps and everybody’s quick to defend and reloads are hard from behind, but he blocked a shot, got out of the defensive zone and down the wing and he was moving fast and hard and he just wound up and ripped it top shelf. It was a thing of beauty.”

-Matt Walker saw his first action for the Flyers since Oct. 26, replacing Kevin Marshall in the lineup. He missed 13 games after clearing waivers (twice) and being sent to Adirondack of the AHL. He has also been a healthy scratch for nine games in that same span.
It’s been a trying experience for Walker, 31, who hasn’t been able to getany regular time with the Flyers since being acquired as part of the Simon Gagne trade with Tampa in the summer of 2010.
“Im excited,” he said. “It’s been a long time, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing again.
“It’s been extremely hard. It never gets easier, whether you’re a young guy or an old guy. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But you have to wait your turn. The team was on a hot streak there so you don’t expect things to change up because it’s tough for coaches to change things. So you have to bide your time and be ready. Every day you’re hoping something’s different, but you have to wait it out.”

-Former Flyer Mike Knuble will become the 20th American player to play 1,000 games when he suits up for the Washington Capitals tomorrow. Here’s what Knuble had to say about the accomplishment (quotes courtesy of Steve Whyno of the Washington Times):
“I was trying to make my way,” Knuble said. “I was just trying to make the '04 lockout – 400 games. I think that was a pretty good milestone. Back in the day, that used to be like a different pension level, so that was the big goal – get to 400 games. It's changed since then. It's something I've been looking forward to the last probably couple years. You try and stay healthy and you never know with your contract status and all that.
“You get up there a little bit in the high (800s) and you start to think it's a possibility. You have to stay healthy and have good fortune and be in the right situation. I don't know. It's good. It's going to be like unwrapping a birthday present, kind of. And then the day after you'll be like, 'Huh.' Now you've just got to keep going.
“ You spent so long – you spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play and that you're worthy of them getting you another contract and worthy of them investing time and energy into you. That's enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you've proved you can play, then it's a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy. You play with great teammates that help you stay in the game and play well on the ice but keep you entertained off the ice and keep you fresh coming to the rink every day.”

Giroux back this week? Starting to look that way

DENVER - Claude Giroux spent 90 minutes on the Pepsi Center ice practicing Monday. The last hour of that was skating hard with other scratches, injured players and assistant coaches.

When he came off the ice, he was in a jovial mood - perhaps the best mood he's been in since before suffering a concussion Dec. 10.

He says he's symptom-free. He says he feels good. He says he's close to getting back to where he can take contact at practice from teammates.

And with each step he's getting closer to playing.

"I just want to test myself and see where I'm at," Giroux said. "If there's no symptoms I don't see why I shouldn't push myself to see where I'm at. I had a good skate today.

"I told myself when I went back on the ice I wasn't going to do it to just cruise around the ice. If I go back it's because I want to skate hard and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm still going day-by-day. I have two more days before (Dallas). If I'm ready to go then I'm ready to go. If not, then the Rangers (Friday) is good, and if not than after Christmas."

But almost certainly, he'll play in the Winter Classic Jan 2, and likely before then.

Giroux wasn't the only player skating long and hard after practice. So was Andreas Lilja, who is eligible to come off the long-term injury list Wednesday in Dallas.

And then there was Erik Gustafsson, who practiced with the team for the first time since left wrist surgery in November.

Gustafsson said he is still more than a week away.

Jody Shelley and Kevin Marshall also are scratches, meaning Matt Walker and Tom Sestito will be in the lineup, joining callup Ben Holmstrom as the three new faces since Saturday's game.

Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start in net.

Look for more here later tonight on a homecoming from Holmstrom, a clever nickname for Marc-Andre Bourdon, a look at Matt Carle and what he's meant to the Flyers without Chris Pronger and an item on Scott Hartnell embracing the #Hartnelldown counter on Twitter and putting it toward charity.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giroux practices, could play soon

DENVER-- Claude Giroux practiced with the Flyers today, although he was wearing the yellow jersey that stood for no contact.

Still, Giroux took part in the entire practice and looked good. The question though is, how did he feel?

I'll let him tell you:

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Just 31 games into the season, I have to admit I was wrong about something.

Sorry, I should have warned you to sit down before I said that.

Anyway, in my preseason predictions, I selected the Buffalo Sabres as the best team in the Northeast Division ahead of Boston.

My rationale was the Sabres had made some nice upgrades to an already good team and that coupled with what was sure to be a Stanley Cup hangover for Boston would equate to them switching positions in the division.

So, when Boston got off to a sluggish start, I was feeling pretty smart.

Now, I'm going to take that fleeting feeling of intelligence and correct my mistake:

These Bruins are very, very good.

I don't just say that because they came into Philadelphia today and walloped the Flyers 6-0 in a game that was for first place in the Eastern Conference.

No. I say that because I am certain that this 18-2-1 run after a 3-7-0 start is legit and should be taken as a sign that they aren't going to give up the Cup easily.

As a matter of fact, I may have to change my Eastern Conference champion prediction (Pittsburgh), but I'll wait a little longer to correct that possible error in judgement.

Here's the thing with Boston - everyone talks about their size and their defense and their goaltending, but they are a very fast team. They out-skated the Flyers considerably Saturday - and the Flyers have made their own bones in the East this season with their speed and pursuit.

Boston looked twice as fast.

Of course, the defense is still there. Zdeno Chara is a hammer. It's a shame the Flyers lost faith in Dennis Seidenberg, because he's as solid as they come.

And what more can you say about Tim Thomas? He might be Benjamin Button, because he's getting better, quicker and more complete as he ages.

As much as you have to like where the Flyers are right now, especially with five concussed players out of the lineup and Andreas Lilja recovering from a high ankle sprain, you have to wonder even if they were completely healthy if they could beat this Boston team in a seven-game series.

Right now, I don't believe they can.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bourdon the latest rookie to impress

His call-up was unheralded. As a matter of fact, it was probably decried in many circles.

After having waived Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis to the minors, the Flyers were short on defensive depth - or so was the common belief.

But in the short time that he's been here, Marc-Andre Bourdon has proven the commoners to be just that.

Bourdon scored his first NHL goal Tuesday as part of a thorough 5-1 thrashing of the directionless Washington Capitals - but has made a name for himself in other ways over the last several games.

"Over the last few games I think he's played like an NHL player, not a rookie," Kimmo Timonen said. "He's made some really good choices with the puck and without the puck. As an older guy I watch a lot of younger guys coming into the league and these are some of the things you watch. If they can't do them, it's going to be hard for them to have a long career. BUt once guys start making good plays, every time almost, and position-wise be in the right place all the time - these are things you cannot teach. It's hockey sense. He has it. He's going to have a long career."

That's high praise for Bourdon from one of the better defensemen of the past decade - and Timonen wasn't alone in his thinking and assessment.

"He's been rock solid," coach Peter Laviolette said. "His head is up. He makes a good first pass. He's physical. He looks really comfortable out there. His opportunity (to play in the NHL) has gone from some minutes, to increased minutes to someone that we count on and rely on. That's good for him and I'm happy for him... He's played terrific. He gets his first goal. There are a lot of positives."


Some observations:

- Tomas Vokoun was terrible. He's not normally this bad, but it's games like this, when the team is scuffling, that you need your goalie to at least give an effort that keeps the team in the game to help them get out of the funk. Vokoun was not good, letting in four goals,all of which he probably could have stopped, despite some deflections.

- Alexander Semin is a real problem child on the ice for the Caps. He looks disinterested.If these stuggles continue, he could be the big name that gets traded.

- Dale Hunter's trapping style does not fit this Washington team. It's weird seeing them not attack relentlessly on the forecheck. That's what made them so dangerous in the past. Their problem was they didn't have great defense or goaltending. They've improved in those areas but have hurt their offensive game considerably in the process.

- Really liked the play of the Flyers defense as a whole. They shut down Washington, and when they didn't, Ilya Bryzgalov was solid in net.

Statistical happenings:

- Scott Hartnell's six-game goal-scoring streak (career high) is the longest for the Flyers since Jeff Carter scored in six straight in 2010. It also ties Nashville's Patrick Hornqvist for the longest goal-scoring streak in the NHL this season.

- Hartnell's career-best point streak is seven games, which he can match with a goal or an assist in Montreal Thursday.

- Wayne Simmonds set a career best by scoring in his third straight game.

- Jody Shelley's assist was his first point since Jan. 14, snapping a drought of 30 games.

- The Flyers improved to 11-3-1 on the road this season which, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the first time they have ever recorded 11 wins in their first 15 road contests. The franchise record for road victories is 24, set in 2002-03.The Flyers are on pace (30) to shatter that mark.

What a headache! Giroux the latest Flyer with a concussion

After getting kneed in the back of the head by his own teammate Saturday, Claude Girox met with team doctors. He later told general manager Paul Holmgren he was already feeling better.

Sunday came an update that he was progressing and feeling better.

Monday brought similar news, although the Flyers also announced they were taking precautions and that Giroux would miss a game - tonight in Washington.

Still, things were looking up, as Holmgren released a statement Monday afternoon that started with "Claude is continuing to feel better..."

Then came Tuesday, and this bombshell from the team:

"Claude reported not feeling very good today," Holmgren said in yet another statement. "Over the past few days, his symptoms have gradually gotten worse. He will be out indefinitely with a concussion."

First the captain, and stalwart defenseman Chris Pronger. Then uber-rookie Brayden Schenn, now Giroux, battling for the league scoring title through 28 games and having his name tossed about as a Hart Trophy candidate - all saddled with concussions - or concussion-like symptoms in Pronger's case - and all out of the lineup indefinitely.

“The guys have responded well to everything in general, I guess,” said coach Peter Laviolette, who while maintaining a stoic exterior is likely kicking chairs and cursing his luck on the inside. “Whether it’s schedule or injury or youth or change, whatever it might be. The guys we put into the lineup have gone out and played hard every night. We haven’t won every game. Certainly, there’s been a consistent effort.”

That there has, and the Flyers take their five-game win streak and put it on the line tonight against an inconsistent Washington team without their two most important players.

But, if there's one thing this Flyers team has been, it's resilient, and that can go a long way toward success - consider last season's Pittsburgh Penguins finished tied with the Flyers point-wise atop the Atlantic Division and did so without their two best players -Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin - for much of the season.

“It’s been awesome,” said Jody Shelley of the way the Flyers have responded to adversity. Shelley, by the way, returns to the lineup tonight. “All teams want to have that. All teams wonder what happens when you’re down. What happens when things are bad and guys are missing. We haven’t spent any time thinking or talking about it as far as Pronger and now Giroux and things like that. That’s just a test of our system and our young energy, I guess. Almost like an ignorance to even spend time looking at that.

“I’ve said it before. The 20 guys wearing the Philadelphia Flyers jersey are representing the organization and we play one way and we’re going to do it again. We don’t sit here and look for a crutch. … Since the first moment in camp, it’s been ‘wow, where did this guy come from?’ Or this guys impresses tonight, this week or this month. You have a situation where you have guys waiting to jump into a spot. And show what they got. Look at Couturier. He’s been waiting on the fourth line, he’s got great talent. He’s done a great job. Now he gets an opportunity."

As for Giroux, unlike Pronger, who is seeing the same specialists who treated Crosby at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tomorrow, Giroux will continue to be treated and evaluated by the Flyers doctors - at least for now.

That could mean that the symptoms aren't as bad as Pronger's, and a more expedited return could be possible, but that's speculative.

Meanwhile the Flyers will try to keep on keeping on against the Capitals with Ilya Bryzgalov back between the pipes tonight.

Look for more on the game, the return of Jody Shelley and what he means to the Flyers as well as the latest on all the concussions here on this blog or on Twitter @AnthonySan37

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh... so NOW Chris Pronger has concussion symptoms

We knew it when the word "virus" first came out of Paul Holmgren's lips.

We knew it when we saw Chris Pronger doing an off-ice work out a few days later - because nobody with a nasty contagion would put his teammates at risk of catching the same illness by hanging around them in the Petri dish better known as a hockey locker room.

We knew it when Pronger first spoke to the media following the announcement of the virus and he debunked that diagnosis and said it wasn't a virus.

We knew.

The Flyers just chose not to acknowledge it - until today.

Pronger, who was already on the shelf until Christmas recovering from a minor surgery to clean out some loose bodies in his left knee, is now out of the lineup indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.

Pronger will now see concussion specialists Dr. Joe Maroon and Dr. Mickey Collins, both of whom are based in Pittsburgh.

If the names sound familiar, they are - they are the same docs who dealt with Sidney Crosby's concussion and post-concussion symptoms.

And if their track record with precaution is any indication - it could be a good while before the Flyers captain returns to the ice.

Pronger did pass a baseline test recently, but that is no longer a tried and true indicator of whether a player has recovered.

Baseline tests compare your score post head trauma to a similar test taken pre-trauma, however, many athletes throw the initial test to have a lower cognitive score to attain while possibly dealing with a concussion.

"Over the last few days he's had some difficulties," Holmgren said. "A fairly persistent headache, just sluggish feeling - so we're just trying to do the right thing here and get him checked out."

Holmgren still wouldn't call the injury a concussion, saying "I don't know that we know that," but he sure had no problem calling this malady a virus, even though there's a far better chance of it being a concussion then there ever was it being a virus.

"I don't know that we'll ever know that (it wasn't a virus)," Holmgren said. "We didn't know what we were dealing with then and I'm not sure we do now."

The immediate reaction is to assume these symptoms are related to the eye injury he suffered in October, but Holmgren was quick to temper that belief too.

"He played four games after that particular incident after missing some time," Holmgren said. "I talked to him after the game in Winnipeg and he said he didn't feel great in that game. He didn't feel like himself...

"Just over the last two or three days he's got a fairly persistent headache and a really sluggish feeling."

Brayden Schenn, who is in the middle of a rookie year that he'd like to forget, is also out indefinitely with a mild concussion suffered, who took a blow to the face in Phoenix last week and said he doesn't feel like himself.

The Flyers aren't in a rush to add another defenseman, but Holmgren admitted that he talks to GM's all the time, so something could always "pop up" at any time.

But if it turns into a long-term thing....

"We'll see what happens over the next little while," Holmgren said. Hopefully we'll get some better news after Chris visits the doctors in Pittsburgh and we'll see what happens from there."