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.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So this is what hockey is like?

I had two special guests at the Flyers game tonight. Garnet Valley softball centerfielder Mary Schlosbon and the Jaguars' volleyball outside hitter Lauren Hostetler.

Mary won the opportunity to be a member of the media with me at a Flyers game (I know, what did the losers get?) and she decided to bring her classmate along.

I asked them to write a blog about their first NHL experience. Here it is. I don't know what was more fun, them writing it or me listening to them laugh about it while doing it.

Also, thanks to Harry Zolneirczyk who took a picture with them after the game.

Lauren: Despite the Flyers tough loss against the Islanders, I had
such an awesome time at my first Flyers game!

Mary: Going into this game, I was pretty anxious because we weren't
dedicated Flyers fans.

Lauren: The only game we watched of the Flyers is the Winter Classic,
and I didn't even understand the rules!

Mary: I can't believe that the first thing we did when we got to the
Wells Fargo Center was hold the door open for Danny Briere before his

Lauren: We even got to say, "Good luck!" (Anthony's note: A lot of
good that did!!)

Mary: One of the highlights of the night was getting to interview
Peter Laviolette.

Lauren: It was hilarious when he called us "rookies" and asked if we
had any questions before the game.

Mary: We were definitely caught off guard; at least we wished him good luck too!

Lauren: Even though we gave Coach Laviolette and his team our well
wishes, they couldn't pull out the win in the end.

Mary: Even though they lost, the excitement of the game was definitely
worth it!

Lauren: We even got to witness our first hockey fight! (Anthony's
note: It was Claude Giroux after all, so it's not like it was a
heavyweight bout, but it'll suffice!)

Mary: After the game, we got to go into the Flyers' locker room and
got to meet Harry Z! (Anthony's note: What, Zolnierczyk was difficult
to type? Come on, that's the common spelling!!)

Lauren: He was really cool, and I hope he'll follow us on Twitter.

Mary: I think it's safe to say that we are now officially Flyers fans.

Lauren: I couldn't agree more! GO FLYERS!

Laviolette waxes on Jagr

Jaromir Jagr told reporters Thursday that he wants to play in Philadelphia again next year.

After hearing that, Peter Laviolette spoke fondly about Jagr.

Below is the video from before tonight's game.

Take special note to the beginning of the video Delco High School sports fans, that's Garnet Valley softball star Mary Schlosbon and Jaguars' volleyball standout Lauren Hostetler doing the camera work and talking to the coach before the game.

Schlosbon was the winner of the "be a media member for a day" with me at the Daily Times Awards banquet last summer and she decided to bring her good friend and classmate.

The two got a taste of the action within minutes of walking in the door. They'll share their experience on this blog after the game.

The video is courtesy of Hostetler's Youtube page:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Talbot dazed by Staios hit

During the Flyers 3-2 win in New York, their 23rd in the last 24 by the way, Max Talbot took a forearm to the head on a blindside hit by Steve Staios.

No penalty was called on the play, but Talbot stayed down on the ice after struggling to get up. After a couple minutes he returned to the bench and took another shift or two, even getting an assist on a goal by Sean Couturier.

However, after the game, Max was annoyed with the hit,and didn't seem himself after the game.

In the video below, he talks about Sergei Bobrovsky some, but when I finally ask him the question about the hit, you can see it's bothering him and he's still feeling the affects.

I wouldn't be surprised if Max is held out of the game in Nashville after trainers have a good chance to evaluate him tomorrow.

How Can Five Flyers make the All-Star Team?

The NHL will announce it's All Star team later today. It's almost a certainty, that since the NHL Hockey Operations department picks the players, that there will certainly be a screw-up or two - like when they initially overlooked Danny Briere last season.

That being said, I'll make it easy on them.

Here is a list of should be All-Stars, broken down by team, with the exception of the final spot, which I explain at the end. Each team list includes the rookies who are also being selected.

We'll see how close I come in a few hours:

FLYERS - (4) Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Read, Sean Couturier - Giroux is a no-brainer. Timonen might not be having his best defensive season, but you can't argue with his offensive numbers where his 25 points have him tied for seventh-best in the NHL among defensemen. Read is another no-brainer as he is tied for the rookie lead in goal scoring but Couturier is also deserving. Consider: Among rookies he's 12th in scoring, third in plus-minus, fourth in faceoffs among centers, and all this from a fourth line/penalty killing role. Imagine what he'd be if he got more than 12 minutes ice time per game.

New York Rangers - (2) Henrik Lundqvist, Michael Del Zotto - The $51 million dollar goalie might be in Philly, but the "money" net minder plays in New York. Del Zotto has had a really nice bounce back season after a sophomore slump. Some will argue that Dan Girardi is a better choice because he's a veteran and a better defensive defenseman, but as steady as he is, Del Zotto has stuck out more this season. Where's Marian Gaborik? He's in that conversation at the end.

New Jersey Devils - (2) Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique - The two Devils rookies have been outstanding and are a big reason why they are poised to return to the playoffs this season. They will both count among the dozen rookies in the All-Star festivities as Devils stars like Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have been sub-par so far this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins - (1) Evgeni Malkin - If they were healthy, they'd be a Stanley Cup contender. They are ravaged by injury, it's starting to look like they'll miss the playoffs, and as a result, just Geno, their best player this season, gets the All-Star nod. Narc-Andre Fleury was close, but just missed the top six among goalies.

New York Islanders - (1) John Tavares - For a team that no one cares about - not even the NHL - Tavares is having a nice season. 39 points through 41 games is pretty good. It just gets lost because the Islanders are so bad.

Boston Bruins - (2) Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara - Thomas was voted a starter and Chara is a perennial All-Star. The more interesting items are the names not listed. Tlyer Seguin? Patrice Bergeron? We'll get to Seguin later, but Bergeron, a should be Selke finalist, loses out because it's an All-Star game. Nobody wants to see excellent defensive forwards!! I'd take Bergeron on my real team any day. Just not the All-Star team.

Ottawa Senators - (5) Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson, Colin Greening - Yes, the host city will have a handful of hometowners to root for. Not that they all deserve to be there. Alfredsson, Spezza, Michalek and Karlsson were all voted in by fans despite only Spezza and Karlsson deserving of being there. Greening is deserving as a rookie and will round out the five-spot of Sens.

Toronto Maple Leafs - (3) Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf - This was an easy team. Phaneuf was voted in. Kessel and Lupul are the highest scoring line mates in the NHL. No one else from the team was even in the conversation.

Buffalo Sabres - (2) Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek - One of them will be there for sure, as each team needs one representative, but I think both belong. Pominville is top 10 in the NHL in scoring with 43 points (only five less than Giroux, who we're talking about as a Hart finalist)so to leave him off would be a crime. As for Vanek, he was my next-to-last forward I picked. But the rationale is, it's hard to argue 40 points and a plus-player on a non-playoff team.

Montreal Canadiens - (1) Raphael Diaz - What, no Carey Price? He's been good behind a bad team, but there are other decent goalies on bad teams and they're not in the All Star game. Quite simply, there were six more deserving options than Price. Not that anyone else on that roster deserved to go either. At least Diaz is a rookie defenseman that has shown some promise, so there you go.

Florida Panthers - (1) Brian Campbell - One of the surprise teams of the NHL this season, yet I am only awarding one spot. Campbell has had a resurgence in Florida after being an albatross in Chicago. Kris Versteeg has to be in the conversation - and is for the final pick - but no one else stood out on the team.

Winnipeg Jets - (1) Evander Kane - Again, each team has to have one player, and while Kane isn't even the leading scorer on his own team (that would be Blake Wheeler) he is the rising star on the Jets and will represent Winnipeg well.

Washington Capitals - (1) Nicklas Backstrom - An All-Star game and no Sid or Ovie? That's right. Ovechkin has been a major disappointment through the first half of the season, as have the rest of the Caps. Backstrom has been their best player, and since each team needs to be represented - he's the choice.

Tampa Bay Lightning - (1) Steven Stamkos - Talk about disappointing teams. The Lightning were one goal away form the Stanley Cup Finals last Spring and now won't make the playoffs. Crazy. Stamkos is still pretty darn good though.

Carolina Hurricanes - (1) Justin Faulk - This team was the least deserving of any All-Stars. There isn't one player, veteran or rookie, who should be there. But, it's less egregious to put a rookie who is improving through hard work on the team then a vet that doesn't deserve to be there. So Faulk gets the nod.

Chicago Blackhawks - (3) Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp - The most exciting team in hockey gets three excellent offensive players into the game (and maybe a fourth as Patrick Kane is in the conversation for the final spot). Sharp may not be able to play because of injury, but deserves to be selected regardless. Hossa and Toews are having monster seasons. Where's Duncan Keith? I ran out of room on defense, but he's my first alternate if there's an injury.

Detroit Red Wings - (3) Jimmy Howard, Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk - Like Toronto, this was an easy trio. Howard is a likely Vezina finalist while the other two are grat players who deserve to be in this game every season.

St. Louis Blues - (1) Kevin Shattenkirk - As great as this team has been under Ken Hitchcock, there wasn't one standout player that screamed All-Star. Shattenkirk was the best choice because of his two way ability as a defenseman, scoring a good amount of points while being sound defensively. Brian Elliott would be a fun story, as good as he's been this season and heading back to Ottawa where he failed as a starting goalie, but I'm not giving an All-Star nod to a guy who has only started half of his team's games.

Nashville Predators - (3) Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Craig Smith - It'll be fun to just fuel the trade speculation fire with these two defenseman at All-Star weekend. Make no mistake, they are both among the best in the game, but Nashville may have to trade one within a month of the All-Star game. Smith has been one of the best rookies in the NHL this season, and belongs among the top 12.

Columbus Blue Jackets - (1) Ryan Johansen - What a foul, fetid, awful mess this organization is. Johansen, a rookie, has been their one bright spot on an otherwise disaster of a season. It'll be like a vacation for the kid to go to Ottawa and see what real hockey looks like.

Vancouver Canucks - (4) Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler, Cody Hodgson - Once again the Sedins find themselves at the top of the scoring race in the NHL and will be All-Stars again - maybe on the same team this time. Edler is not a popular choice for All-Star defensemen, but he's been the best on one of the league's best teams, so how can you ignore him? Hodgson is a talented rookie who is only adding to the great depth of the Canucks.

Colorado Avalanche - (1) Gabriel Landeskog - The Avs have been playing really good hockey lately, but without one standout star. Landeskog got off to a slow start to his rookie campaign, but has been much better the last month or so. He's only 19, so I expect the improvement to continue beyond that, which makes him one of the best dozen rooks in my book.

Minnesota Wild - (1) Niklas Backstrom - As great a start as the Wild got off to this season, it's amazing they only have one All-Star. But, when you lose 10 in a row, this is what happens. Backstrom has still been solid despite the team's collapse, and not to mention, it'll be fun at the fantasy draft determining between him and the Washington Center with the same name.

Calgary Flames - (1) Jarome Iginla - Like there's anyone else from that team who should be considered for an All-Star Game.

Edmonton Oilers - (2) Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle has been a breakout star this season to get into the top 10 in the NHL in scoring at the halfway point. Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in the draft last summer, has not disappointed and is the leading scorer among rookies in the NHL.

San Jose Sharks - (1) Dan Boyle - With all the talent on this team, to only have one representative is indicative of how slow their start was. It came down to Boyle and fellow defenseman Brent Burns for me and I think Boyle has more cache in the league, which was the difference in the tossup. Burns could be a deserving injury replacement though.

Los Angeles Kings - (1) Jonathan Quick - If your team can't score, yet you are still in second place and clinging to a playoff spot, it has to be because of one guy. You're goalie. Quick has been excellent.

Dallas Stars - (1) Jamie Benn - What a great story Bennn has been for the Stars to become one of the better power forwards in the NHL. Credit him for his continued hard work to get where he is, deserving of a trip to Ottawa.

Phoenix Coyotes - (1) Mike Smith - Talk about crimes, if he's not an All-Star after the way he's carried the Coyotes this year, it's larceny. When they lost Ilya Bryzgalov, many thought the Coyotes were dead in the water. Smith has kept them afloat.

Anaheim Ducks - (1) Teemu Selanne - It's his last season. He's retiring. He's a surefire hall of famer playing out the string on a dreadful team. Yet, he leads the team in scoring at age 41 with 41 points and is a plus player. Gotta admire his commitment to the sport.

As for the final spot. There are 10 forwards in the conversation. A few of these guys may eventually end up on the roster because of injury concerns, but it comes down to one of the following:

Tyler Seguin, James Neal, Patrick Kane, Loui Eriksson, Marian Gaborik, Scott Hartnell, Kris Versteeg, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.

When doing my process of elimination, I immediately wiped out the three Devils because although they've ben hot lately, they weren't consistently good all season.

Likewise, I eliminated Versteeg, who started off on fire, but has slowed down a bit since.

I wiped out James Neal and Marian Gaborik for basically the same reason - somebody has to score goals on low-scoring teams, and they happen to be the guys, but they're not giving you much else besides the scoring threat.

So in the end it came down to Seguin, Hartnell and Eriksson to me.

I probably eliminated Eriksson because I don't get to see him enough. And if that was the determining factor, then shame on me, but I couldn't get away from the seasons Seguin and Hartnell were having.

Hartnell is the best power forward in the NHL this season. He creates so much havoc and also is putting up career-best offense. But I'm not sure he should go ahead of Seguin, a young superstar in the making.

Seguin has added a dynamic to the Stanley Cup champion Bruins that no one ever saw coming so soon. He is legit and should be celebrated for what he's doing as a 20-year-old in the NHL.

So give the nod to Seguin, and Hartnell just misses. But as soon as someone backs out with injury, Hartnell is the guy to go, hands down.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Braden, Kimmo and Ilya

Or, if you read the headline, it can be translated into the Good, the bad and the ugly.

Let's start with Brayden Schenn.

Since coming back from his concussion, Brayden Schenn seems to be getting better and better with each game.

Peter Laviolette had to juggle lines tonight with Jaromir Jagr out of the lineup nursing a groin injury, but methinks that even if Jagr comes back Saturday against Ottawa, Schenn's line with James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds will stay intact.

JVR had a pair of goals, Schenn his first Flyers assist, and the trio really seemed to work well together and skated hard together.

It'll also keep Jake Voracek with Danny Briere, the best possible winger (aside from the top line guys) to play with Briere and bring some semblance of the line Briere had so much success with last year and the playoffs before that when he had Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino.

But this is supposed to be about Schenn, who is starting to seem comfortable in his role on the roster. The kid definitely has talent. He creates a lot of offense. He's a decent faceoff guy and will only get better, and he's starting to show signs of why he had a reputation as the best prospect not in the NHL prior to this season.

That's a positive for the Flyers.

Now the negative.

Kimmo Timonen hurt his left hand/wrist in the first period of the game against Chicago. He missed the last 9:30 of the period, came back to take three shifts of the second period and then left the game for good.

He will be re-evaluated Friday.

I spoke with Paul Holmgren after the game, and he doesn't believe the injury is serious. Timonen had trouble gripping the stick when he returned in the second period, which is why he took himself out of the game.

It was Timonen's call to try and return to the game. Didn't last.

I would expect he misses the next two games and then we'll see.

As for Ilya Bryzgalov, this situation is getting worse and worse. He is now dodging the media with the full blessing of Holmgren. The Flyers say that's not the case, that Bryzgalov just isn't feeling well.

O.K., maybe that's the case.

But maybe not. Considering how often the Flyers fib, I tend to think this is all spin control.

Here's the timeline:

9:45 p.m. - the media asks for Bryzgalov but is told he's soaking in the hot tub and will be available after the coach speaks.

10:10 p.m. - We are told Bryz doesn't feel well and won't be talking. We are told Holmgren agreed with Bryzgalov and that he shouldn't speak if he's not feeling well. According to a team spokesman, Holmgren said to him "If he's not feeling well, don't let him talk (to the media)."

10:25 p.m.Bryzgalov starts tweeting about the World Junior Championship, which Russia lost in overtime to Sweden.

Now, it's quite possible to be sitting in bed watching TV and tweeting from your iPhone, but this, again, flies in the face of what the team is saying and proves they can't get their story straight.

First he's soaking in a hot tub, then he's sick, then Holmgren tells a PR person not to "let" him talk if he's not feeling well. Then Holmgren tells us that they sent him home to get to bed and get rest, then Bryz tweets about the game.

In other words, the story is shaky at best.

This comes on the heels of a Daily News report recently that teammates were annoyed when Bryz said he was sick during a November loss, telling the newspaper that they can't believe anyone was buying that he was actually sick.

It also follows up comments by former Phoenix teammates who say Bryzgalov caused many similar problems in their locker room and that they were happy he's gone.

It's one giant soap opera.

So much so that a former Flyer playing in another city said to me recently, "You guys must be having a field day with this Bryzgalov character. I read you every day just to see what he says next. It's riveting."

Yes, the reputation is preceding him at this point. And that can't be good.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A full transcript of the Bryzgalov meltdown at practice today

Ilya Bryzgalov is not starting the Winter Classic for the Flyers.

That's not the biggest problem he has right now.

It can be certain that the team can't be happy with some of the things he says publicly.

In an interview today, not only did he announce he wasn't starting in the game, but he went off on a loopy rant that has to have people questioning how he is dealing with the pressure of playing in Philadelphia, his relationship with his coach, and the fact that he has, at least temporarily, been demoted.

Here is the entire transcript of the Bryzgalov interview. Read it as it happened and decide for yourself just how disconcerting this whole thing is.


How was it out there?

“The ice is great. I like it. Unbelievable.”

Was your family here to skate?

“No, they still sleeping. I just came (here) from the party last night. New Year’s is a big holiday in Russia. We just finished 7 a.m. I get breakfast and came over here.”

Are you playing tomorrow?

“I have great news and even better news. OK, great news: I’m not playing tomorrow night. Good news: we have a chance to win the game tomorrow.

Are you just joking?

“No, I’m not playing, guys. I’m telling you, definitely.”

Are you disappointed?

“Yes. I’m a human. I’m not made from steel, but it is what it is and I had a good practice again like yesterday and two days ago. We just keep moving forward and there are lots of games in front of us. Lots of hockey. I heard it was still the main goal in Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup and prepare for this.”

What’s your mindset for tomorrow?

“Make sure I don’t forget early in the morning, my thermos. I’ll put some nice tea (in it) and enjoy the bench.”

What’s it going to be like playing in front of a big crowd tomorrow?

“I can’t tell you because I’m not going to play.”

What have you been working on with (goalie coach) Jeff Reese?

“Nothing new. Just working on technical things. That’s it.”

Is this especially disappointing because it’s the Winter Classic?

“Oh yeah, that’s the only one reason. If it was another (regular season) game, I might not be frustrated like that. Still it’s a special game, outside. It’s like you step on the ice and ‘Oh, man. This is cool, actually.’ But I have my thermos, guys, like I told you.”

How do you know you’re not playing?

“It was written down. Actually, my goalie coach, Jeff Reese, he told me I’m not playing. Is it a big deal or not guys?”

Did you talk to Laviolette about it?

“No, I didn’t see the reason why. He’s the head coach. He makes these decisions and he’s responsible for the results. I can understand. He probably wants to put the best lineup he’s got for (the game).”

What is your role with the team now?

“I don’t worry about it.”

But, your workload has decreased siginificantly from what you were used to in Phoenix.

“This is the life. Every team’s different. You have to adjust and see if it works. Maybe it’s not going work. Maybe I’m not going to feel well if I play a lot. Who knows?”

Have you Watched 24/7?

“Yeah, I saw a couple.”

Did they use one interview?


Was it the greatest interview you’ve ever given?

“Hey, guys, you should read my Russian interviews with what I said in Russia. I was an angel in this interview.”

Do you like the show?

“I think life is a show. Isn’t it?”

How does this fit into the show?

“This? This is a great opportunity. It’s a great hockey holiday and the people get to enjoy it. Players, fans, media. I don’t hear any bad thing about players or fans or stuff like that from you guys. Just positive.”

What’s it like skating outside?

“Great. Oh, yeah. I remember we played City (something in Russian) and we fought team-on-team. I was 15-years-old. Man. Fans were jumping over the boards and started fighting too. Oh man, it was a great show.”

Did you fight the fans?

“No, I fought the other player, the goalie. Even fans from the home team, they jumped over the boards and started fighting.

How many did you hurt?

“I don’t remember. I was 15. You know, it was like, somebody pulled a knife, they threw the sticks. It was nasty.”

Like a Prison fight?

“Yeah, five people died.”

Do you have any advice for young kids?

“Work hard and believe in themselves.”

Was your family here today?

“No, like I said, we just get to the bed 7 a.m. in the morning. What are you talking about? I got my breakfast and came here to the practice.”

Why no family?

“They’re sleeping. It’s the biggest holiday in Russia.”

What kept you out all night?

(mimicking a drunk voice) “What else keep the players out all night?”

Do you think the fans will be disappointed that you’re not playing?

“You have to ask the fans.”

What do you think?

“I don’t know. I don’t know. There is nothing to do tomorrow. Come to the game early and start asking the fans ‘What do you think about it?’ and they give you an honest answer.”

What is the difference between how you were in Phoenix and how you are here?

“I am who I am. We have no reporters in Phoenix. I was really busy there because I was playing every game and I didn’t have time to talk. Right now I have plenty of time.”

Do you enjoy this part of it.

“It’s good. You guys ask good questions and it’s fun. It’s good that we all have a sense of humor. It’s not what I heard about the media. You’re actually pretty cool guys.”

Did you finish any good books on the road?

“Yes, I finished Tolstoy, it’s called ‘Struggles in Life.’ Right now I’m reading about Rasputin. It’s good stuff, man. Good stuff.”

Is there anything you learned from that Tolstoy book that can translate to what you’re going through now?

“People change their minds because they think one way at some point in their lives because they thought there was hope and then they change and start thinking differently.”

Have you lost hope?

“Who me? No. This is just hockey. It’s just hockey. You remember what I said about the universe? Compare that to the problems here? Come on. If you think your life is bad, there are other people on the earth who have it even worse. Don’t worry, be happy.”

What kind of tea will you drink tomorrow?

“It’ll be Earl Gray probably. Lemon, lots of sugar. Sweet. I hope I have enough for the whole game. It’s supposed to be colder tomorrow so we’ll see. I’ll probably make sure I have enough towels. I always wear long underwear and I usually wear lingerie too… what have you guys gotten from this conversation? Basically nothing, right? People don’t care how I feel. They want a show. They want entertainment. You remember Rome right? Antique Rome, the Roman Empire? What did the people want? Gladiators and bread. That’s all they wanted. The crowd hasn’t changed. It’s still the same. It’s going to be the same in the future.”

Do you pay attention to what people say about you? Do you care?

“I don’t care about the people. I don’t pay attention to what the people say. As long as I am happy with my game, it doesn’t matter what the people say. People can say that I’m playing pretty good, but if I’m not happy with my game, then I’m not happy with my game.”

Are you happy with your game?

“You remember what I said after the Tampa game? I said ‘I was outstanding.’ Of course I’m not (happy). There are black stripes in my life right now. No my life, but my hockey career. But, you know, it can be forever, but sometimes it’s going to change.”