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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


... that these Flyers can't score goals. Really. Does anyone else think they really miss Mike Knuble right about now?

He was that guy who used to get all these ugly goals that padded leads, or got the team back in games. He had a knack for those specifically. Right now, nobody is scoring anywhere near the net.

It's troubling and it's got the Flyers scratching their heads a bit.

Consider - 81 shots the last two games and only three goals.

Consider - Jeff Carter hasn't scored since the Game 2 of the NLDS between the Phils and Rockies - yeah, it's been awhile.

Consider - fourth liners Arron Asham and Darroll Powe each individually have as many goals (3) as Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux combined.


The game was entertaining. It always is between these two teams. And it's a little bit funny. As much as Flyers fans hate the Penguins, Rangers and Devils, they seem to truly respect the Caps. Whether in Philly or in D.C. there's always a lot of props being handed over to Washington for the way they play, whereas the venom is clearly visible dripping off the incisors with Pittsburgh, New York and New Jersey.


1. Jose Theodore - He looked like the Theodore who won the Vezina a few years back, making 41 saves. Maybe, for once, the Flyers can lean on that old "we ran into a hot goalie" crutch.

2. Nicklas Backstrom - The young center had a hand in every goal - scoring one and assisting on the others. His line with Alexander Semin (3 points) and Alexander Ovechkin (2 goals) was really good.

3. Ray Emery - The Caps threw everything at him and he held his ground. The three goals he allowed (the fourth was an empty-netter), either deflected off a Flyer or came through a bad screen.


- The Flyers had a season high in shots with 43 and now have 84 shots in two games against the Caps.

- James van Riemsdyk got another assist and remains the only rookie to average more than a point per game he's played.

- Chris Pronger logged 30:41 of ice time - which is more than half the game.

- Kimmo Timonen was again a minus-3. That's two games in a row. He's now minus-10 for the season, tied for second worst in the league among 662 players. (Minnesota's Brent Burns is minus-11). His partner, Braydon Coburn isn't much better (minus-9)

One final personal note:

I love Washington D.C. I went to college here. I lived here for a bit. But I never understood (and never will) how the Beltway can be an 8-lane road and have the kind of gridlock I experienced driving here today?

It's a smaller city than Philly, our highways are smaller (I-76 has only 2-lanes in each direction for Pete's sake) and more people live here - yet we don't have this kind of traffic.

My trip was going fine until I hit the beltway, then it took 40 minutes to go 4 miles. I almost missed the start of the game. Unreal.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Good question.

I've watched the hit a dozen times. I think it was late. I think he left his feet upon impact.

I think it's suspension-worthy.

But, it doesn't matter what I think. It only matters what the NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell thinks and he won't look at it until late tonight.

There were some vast opinions about the hit after the game.

Here are some of the quotes. You decide for yourself. First Florida then the Flyers:

Panthers G.M. Randy Sexton said ''there is no place'' in hockey for hits like Richards put on and he could be suspended as early as tomorrow morning. The Flyers play here Sunday.

''I didn't see the hit,'' Sexton said, noting he was writing in his game report as the hit went down. ''When they didn't show the replay, I knew it was bad. Then they showed it. I'm sure the league will do a full review.

''The league wants to get rid of these shots to the head.''

Defenseman Keith Ballard

“He was in a vulnerable position, and Richards knows he’s in a bad spot and he goes after him,” Ballard said. “He’s done it before. That’s the same stuff (the NHL wants to) put an end to. He tried to hurt him.
“The thing with Mike Richards is he’s a good, honest player. He plays hard, but he does (stuff) like that. He’s done it before. I love a lot about his game. He does a lot of things well, but then he does that stuff. (You lose respect) It’s a split-second decision, but it’s a decision that’s been made several times now.”

Paul Holmgren

What do expect from the league on this hit?

"I don't expect anything. I thought it was a good hit."

The league is trying to get rid of blows to the head, is that a concern if
they look at it?

"No. I don't see how they can view it like that. Mike was doing hs job. He
was back-tracking to catch up to the play and went to finish his check on
the player who had just passed the puck and his feet never left the ice. It
was a shoulder hit. Young David Booth turned his head. It looks like he saw
him at the last second, but he turned his head and his head took the blow.
It would have been shoulder on shoulder if not. It's a physical game and
sometimes these things happen. I feel bad for David Booth. He's a good young
player. Hopefully everything is going to be all right."

The fact that Richards doesn't have a reputation for this, do you think
that'll work in his favor with the league?

"The league knows Mike isn't a dirty player. He's a hard-nosed, gritty
player who any team in the league would covet and does covet."

But, when there's a head injury on a hit like this, don't you almost expect
a suspension?

"No. No. No I don't. I think you have to look at each case as it is and
sometimes unfortunately injuries happen. There was nothing dirty about that
hit. It was a physical play that sometimes happens in a hockey game."

You said you didn't think he left his feet, is there room for interpretation
on that?

"Most hits it looks like they leave their feet after the hit. Certainly his
feet were on the ice when the hit was made."

How does this process work, will you get a call tomorrow?

"Usually a call or an email, but usually it would have happened by now. It

Randy Sexton has said....

(interrupting) "Randy should watch more hockey games."

No, he said there's been a lot of debate over the summer...

(interrupting again) "No, I agree with that. But even if you slow this one
down frame by frame, I don't see how you can say that's a dirty play or a
suspendable hit. I just don't see it."

Mike Richards

Take us through the hit

"I saw him with the puck and I was going up the middle and trying to
eliminate him from having the puck and he dished it off and everything
happened so quickly it was hard to explain. I just wanted to separate him
from the puck."

Was it a legal hit?

"I don't know. I wasn't trying to hurt him I just wanted to separate him
from the puck. He just kind of moved and turned and it happened so quickly,
it's hard for me to explain. I haven't seen a replay. I don't have a history
of head shots and I don't even know if it was a head shot."

Will your reputation help you?

"I don't know. I don't know what to expect. I'm not a player who has done
this before or been in thi scenario before. It's up to Colin Campbell to
look at it and do his job, but I'm not the type of player who does that.

Were you shaken by it?

"I'm never out there to hurt anyone. I have respect for the game and respect
for the players. My concern is with him. Hopefully he's fine and gets

My three stars in case you care:

1. Danny Briere - two goals and an assist. The entire line (Jeff Carter and James van Riemsdyk) was all over the ice.

2. van Riemsdyk - First NHL goal, pretty pass to Briere. Probably the best game he's played yet.

3. Jeff Carter - He had 11 scoring chances and won more faceoffs than he lost for the second game in a row.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I'm going to try something at the Flyers' game that I think will be really cool. Here's the release I posted on the Delco Times Web site this afternoon:

Hey hockey fans - yes, there still is hockey in this town amidst all the World Series pandemonium. Even though it seems like eons since the Flyers last played, they are back on the ice tonight when they host the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m.

I have the pleasure of being the media member assigned the three star selection for tonight's game and I wanted to try something a little bit different.

I figured, why should I be the lone guy with an opinion on the game's three best players? Why not get some input from the people who are watching the game intently - you the fans.

So, I've devised an opportunity tonight for Flyers' fans to do something historic - for the first time in NHL history, I will offer the fans the opportunity to pick the stars. That's right, you get to help me make the selections.

Here's how it'll work. You will send me your picks at any point during the game up until there are 8 minutes remaining in the third period (which is when we have to submit the picks to the Wachovia Center press box staff). I will compile a running tally and make the selections based on your recommendations. Sounds easy enough, no?

Of course, sometimes in hockey, the three stars aren't that simple at the 12-minute mark of the third period, so I will also accept things like "winning goal" or "winning goalie" or the like as submissions.

There are three easy ways to send me your three star selections:

1. Post your selections as a comment on my blog here at --

2. Send me a tweet on Twitter @anthonysan37

3. Leave a comment on my Facebook Page under my Three Stars post --

I hope this will be a fun exercise for you all. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


You knew they weren't going to win all 82 games, right?

I know, I know, you just didn't want the first loss to come against the hated Penguins. Well, unfortunately it did, but when you hand Pittsburgh four of the five goals the way the Flyers did tonight, you really can't expect to win, can you?

We'll get into the game in a bit, including three stars and some tidbits and stats, but the most pressing issue postgame came from the Pittsburgh locker room.

That's where Pens' defenseman Kris Letang was accusing Scott Hartnell of biting him on the hand.

Didn't we go down this road two years ago in New Jersey when Travis Zajac accused Derian Hatcher of the same thing?

While I don't think Hatcher was guilty, I feel the jury has to remain out on Hartnell until we have more information.

Here's the transcripts of interviews with both Letang and Hartnell:

Kris Letang

What happened?

"My answer is going to be ask him. He knows what he did. Go ask Hartnell."

Does this anger you?

"It sets up the whole season. We have (five) more games to play against the and we know they’re about doing stupid things like that at the end of the game."

Has this ever happened before?

"It’s a first for me. I want to be ceratin you go ask him."

Does this surprise you?

“They try to intimidate us after the whistle with scrums and things like that, but our game isn’t playing after the whistle... We play a north-south game, and if they want to come after us after the whistle we’ve got to just walk away.”

Scott Hartnell

Did you bite him?

"He had his hands in my face, doing the face wash and we were rolling around. I can't say what happened."

Has anyone ever accused you of biting?


A further explanation?

"He went after Richards who was driving the net and I went after him obviously. A couple of other fights broke out and we were rolling around on the ice there."

So there was no biting?

"(Laughs) No. Well, there was no blood anyways."

Do you think the league will contact you about a suspension?

"No. I don't know what the rules are. I have no idea. We'll see what happens."

Does it surprise you that he was so adamant that you did it?

"I don't know what happened. I know he went to the bench and I saw Pronger with Kunitz so I jumped over there. I was out there for two minutes so I don't know what really happened."

You decide...


Onto the game:

My Three Stars:

1. Marc-Andre Fleury - Yeah, he gave up four goals, but he was sensational early in the game and kept Pittsburgh in it. He finished with 30 saves and was truly the difference in the contest.

2. Danny Briere - Two goals and some good jump in the legs of Briere, who is poised to have a nice bounce back season. Yeah, he was a minus-1, but that's because he happened to be on the ice for two goals that were caused by turnovers by teammates. Not his fault.

3. Jeff Carter - Can't knock a guy who has a four point night - even if he was directly responsible for one of Pittsburgh's goals. Offensively, he was everywhere - his line with Briere and Hartnell has been a really good combination thus far.


-Despite their first loss of the season, both Jeff (2G,2A) and Mike Richards (2A) extended their scoring streak to four straight games… Carter now has seven points (4G,3A) in his streak, while Richards also has seven points (5G,2A).

-The last time Carter posted four points in one night was April 3, 2009 vs. Toronto (3G,1A).

-Danny Briere had two goals in tonight’s game, marking his first multi-goal game since March 20, 2009 vs. Buffalo… Briere’s two goals also give him 26 career points (9G,17A) in 29 career games against Pittsburgh… Briere’s first goal of the night was also his 100th point as a Flyer.

-The Flyers have scored 10 of their 17 goals on the season in the second period, and have outscored their opponent 10 to 5 in the second frame.

-Defenseman Matt Carle now has points in three straight games, recording seven points (1G,6A) in that span. His seven points lead all NHL defensemen.

-Defensemen Kimmo Timonen (1G,4A) and Chris Pronger (4A) also have recorded points in three straight games.

-The Flyers scored two of their four goals on the power play in tonight’s game, and have now gone 5-for-16 (31.3%) in the last two contests.

That's all the good news. Now how about this?

-Sidney Crosby won 21-of-24 faceoffs (88 percent) mostly abusing Richards (5-of-17, 29 percent).

-Simon Gagne, who has been very quiet in the first four games, lost the puck off hs stick on a breakaway.

-The Flyers are 10-20-4 against Pittsburgh since John Stevens took over as coach, his worst record against any other Eastern Conference foe.

-Crosby was held without a point against the Flyers for just the third time in 27 regular season games. In the other 24 games though, Crosby has 20 goals and 26 assists in 46 points.


Analysis: Too many turnovers. Too sloppy in their own end. Briere had it right. He said there are times when the Flyers are "brain dead" on the ice. They have a mental block against Pittsburgh and no matter how much they win during this regular season, they will still play second fiddle to the Pens until they find a way to beat them in the playoffs.

Off day for me tomorrow, but I'll be back with more on the Flyers Saturday when they host Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, Bobby Ryan and Anaheim. As a side note, it'll be the first game here for Ryan, a native of Cherry Hill, NJ.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Did you catch your breath yet?

Wow. That was some hockey eye candy folks. It wasn't the most disciplined game. It drives coaches nuts. But it certainly was a beaut to watch - even for a stodgy purist like me.

There's a lot to get to, so let's jump right in, shall we?


1. Mike Richards - when the captain gets up for a game, there are few better. You can see why, in games like this, he gets compared to Bobby Clarke. He played with a mean streak. He played with offensive precision. He scored three goals and was the best player on the ice.

2. Matt Carle - I've been saying it since Day 1 of camp and I'm gonna keep trumpeting it all season long - Carle is going to have a huge year for the Flyers. I'm thinking 50 points plus. He is so much more confident playing with Pronger that he's becoming a star in his own right. Four assists tonight. Team USA please take notice.

3. Alex Ovechkin - The guys is the best player in the game. I will argue this point with anyone. He can do so much that guys like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby can't. They're great players too, but Ovechkin is otherworldly.


This is the 10th time in Flyers history that the team has started the season with a 3-0-0 record and first time since 1998-99. Of the previous nine times, the Flyers have improved their record to 4-0-0, seven times.

The Flyers also improved their home opening record to 24-12-5-1 (shootout loss)

Matt Carle's four assists in the second period of tonight's game is a new Flyers record for most assists in a period by a defenseman. It also ties an NHL record for most assists in one period by a defenseman. The last time a defenseman recorded four assists in one period was: Rob Blake, 2nd period, Los Angeles vs. Calgary on Jan. 29, 1998.

Carle’s four assists in a game are also a new career high… He now has six points (1G,5A) in his last two games

Mike Richards became the Flyers player to record a hat trick in a Flyers home-opener… Tonight was also Mike Richards’ second career hat trick. The first came on Feb. 8, 2008 vs. NY Islanders.

With his assist on Scott Hartnell’s goal in the third period, Kimmo Timonen recorded his 300th assist in the NHL.

The Comcast-Spectacor ice crew removed 492 hats and 104 T-shirts that were tossed onto the ice following Mike Richards hat trick at the Wachovia Center tonight.



Blair Betts' injury is a big one. Don't be fooled by the fact that he is a minimum salary player on the fourth line. He's the best faceoff guy on the team. He's one of the best penalty killers. A dislocated shoulder is a tricky injury. Paul Holmgren said "at least" four weeks. If we see Betts before Thanksgiving, I'll be impressed.

James van Riemsdyk's situation is a bit more cloudy, but then again, aren't they always when it comes to head injuries and the Flyers? He's day-to-day. He'll be re-evaluated. Homer is saying "bell rung." I'm saying uh-oh. My biggest problem though isn't the veil of secrecy - it is, after all, just a precaution - but rather, the macho test the Flyers seem to try with all of their young players after injuries.
THey sent van Riemsdyk back out on the ice at the start of the third period. He took two shifts and realy didn't feel right. If he had his "bell rung" why the hell put him out there at all? Just keep him in the locker room. It's the third game of the season for Pete's sake.

They did this in 2005 when Jeff Carter was a rookie and half of his ear was sliced off. They sent him back out with a huge bandage on his head. He had just lost a ton of blood and had his ear sewed back on. But, they wanted to see if he could tough it out - you know - be a hockey player.

Sometimes, you need to know when to draw the line. You'd think, with the history here they would be more cautious. As well run as this organization is from top to bottom, it's the one thing I'll never understand about it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


This win was even more impressive than last night's. I'll give you some analysis in a minute, but I want to let you know - don't miss the transcription of the Ian Laperriere interview below - it's pretty hysterical.

O.K.... onto the game.

The Flyers came into a New Jersey arena and looked composed, poised, confident, you pick the adjective. It was evident early on that this wasn't going to be your typical Flyers-Devils game up here.

While the 9-35-9 record in New Jersey the past 19 years is a bit daunting, this group of Flyers was hell bent on slapping history in the face.

From the opening draw to the final horn, the Flyers were the better team. They won more puck battles, they controlled possession, they pressured the Devils defense and they did something they almost never do - they wore out Marty Brodeur.

My three stars were:

1. Ray Emery - He was superb in the first two periods, stifling the Devils and allowing his team to build a four-goal lead.

2. Matt Carle - He's so much more active n the offense now that he's paired with Chris Pronger. I really expect a big season from him.

3. Laperriere - The guy just exudes character and grit. He will be a fan favorite in no time - great personality too.


- Laperriere actually got things rolling early in the first period with a great play in the corner that led to a hooking penalty on Johnny Oduya. The Flyers didn't score on the ensuing power play, but the hard work certainly set a tempo in the game.

- Kimmo Timonen made a nice sliding stop to break up a 3-on-2 early in the game with the score still tied. It's one of those little things that get overlooked in a game with seven goals, but it kept momentum from swinging right away.

- The Flyers penalty kill held the Devils to just one shot on goal during a full 2-minute 5-on-3. Chris Pronger spearheaded the effort with great work down low while Blair Betts and MIke Richards were pests at the top of the triangle.

- Credit Paul Martin with a great defensive play to thwart Claude Giroux's breakaway chance in the closing seconds of the first period.

- Ray Emery got a delay of game penalty for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid. That's one of those weird sounding penalties that makes me chuckle a little bit. Anyway, Emery didn't have to deal with that rule in Russia last season, wonder if he had a small brain cramp there.

- Laperriere almost scored a second goal in the second period on a redirection. Only thing is he tipped it wide of the net.

- Early in the third period, with New Jersey really pressing, both Danny Syvret and James van Riemsdyk turned the puck over at the point to the Devils. Van Riemsdyk addressed that afterward. "I made a couple bonehead plays that I need to eliminate, but I felt more comfortable out there tonight," he said. The second bonehead play as coming off the bench too quickly to play the puck leading to a bench minor for too many men on the ice and the subsequent Devils' first goal.

- It took the Flyers 82 games to allow a shorthanded goal in 2008-09, but just two games befoe they allowed one in 2009-10.

- Pronger, Matt Carle, van Riemsdyk, and Claude Giroux were each plus-3. Oduya was a game-worst minus-3.

- The Flyers really rolled their four lines. The fewest minutes of any player was Daniel Carcillo who logged 11:06. That's good balance and fine coaching on Stevens' part to make it work out so evenly.


O.K.... now for Laperriere. Combined with Pronger, the Flyers added two of the best interviews in the NHL. Here are some snippets from Lappy:

Q: Are you supposed to score goals:

IL: Once in a while I guess. It always feels good to help the team that way.

Q: It was a tough angle, no?

IL: If I don't know where it's going, then I don't think Marty does either. I just tried to put it on net and hope good things happen.

Q: You ever scored on Marty before?

IL: I did, yeah. I've been playing a long time. I'm not a goal scorer, but the odds are firmly in my favor. It's not really my job to score but if I can chip in once in a while, then it's good.

Q: Talk about Emery keeping the Devils off the scoreboard when it was 1-0 or 2-0.

IL: Yeah, he made a sick save there when it was 2-0. It was the play of the game. When you see a goalie making saves like that you get momentum and everybody has a little boost on the bench.

Q: Looking forward to the day off tomorrow after winning the first two games?

IL: I don;t know. Is that what they do? I don't know. I'm the new guy so I'm just going to go with the flow and see what goes on tomorrow.

Q: You hear a lot about being the team to beat. What does it mean to start the season 2-0?

IL: It's a long season. Hockey News came out with that a lot of people came out with that, but it's a marathon. We have to take it game-by-game and stretch by stretch. We'll have some ups and we'll have some downs, we just have to come out on top at the end of the season.

Q: Do you like getting an identity as a tenacious penalty killer?

IL: I made a career doing that. (Blair) Betts made a career doing that. They didn't bring us here to score goals obviously. We welcome the challenge.

Q: Does it take a while to learn the rivalries after being used to the ones out West?

IL: I don't know. I'm not mad at anybody yet. Give me a couple games and I'll get mad at someone. Out west I had my rivals. All these guys are new to me. I need to look at the stats sheets and see who they are. I am sure they are doing the same thing for me. When you play against these guys a couple times and you get a couple cheap shots here and there you remember them. It's only Game 2. Trust me, I'll find my rivals.

Q: In time for the playoffs?

IL: Maybe a little earlier.

Q: Van Riemsdyk said the goal was all you despite his pass.

IL: I don't know. This kid is sick. You don't get drafted second overall for no reason. I didn't know who he was, but he's doing things veterans would do out there. It's nice to see a kid with that much poise, especially on your team.


Hey, somehow there are still 500 tickets remaining for Tuesday's opener. Come on people, you have to get there to see this team. Besides, they're playing Washington. Alex Ovechkin is worth the price of admission alone and you get to welcome back Mike Knuble to boot.


Off day for the Flyers tomorrow, so it'll be an off day for the blog too.. but look for much more come Monday, especially on the early success of the fourth line and a preview into the Caps and Pens coming up this week.

Friday, October 2, 2009


A good win for the Flyers to start the season. They were an aggressive team for the entire game, were constantly on the puck, won their share of battles on the wall and dominated special teams play.

My three stars were:

1. Chris Pronger - He was a beast. He logged nearly 28 minutes, was the defensive catalyst for all eight penalty kills and controls everything on the ice. He is constantly communicating with teammates, directing traffic and being the leader this organization lacked a season ago. Yeah, he's that good.

2. Ray Emery - He got lucky at times, but hey, a shutout is a shutout, and he did make 28 saves. Nice start to his Flyers career.

3. Jeff Carter - He scored the first goal and should have had at least two more. He was always around the net with the puck. Playing with Danny Briere could help him reach 50 goals this season.



- Blair Betts won his first faceoff against Stephane Yelle? Actually, he took 16 draws, third most on the team, and was credited with nine wins for 56 percent. That's a good number, but the hometown stat folks here in the south don't know how to really register a faceoff win. By my count he was 11-5, which would have been even better.

- Mika Pyorala started the game on the second power play unit with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, but after that first shift was replaced by James van Riemsdyk. JVR actually registered his first NHL point getting the second assist on Richards' goal, but other than that his time was limited. He played just 8:59 in the game which was only ahead of Daniel Carcillo (7:06) and Danny Syvret (5:26). His minutes need to be better than that if he's going to stay with the big club, otherwise he'll be headed to Adirondack. Pyorala finished with 12:48 of ice time.

- We are always quick to lambaste refs, but good call by Chris Lee on the hand pass by Andrew Alberts that ended up negating a goal by Eric Staal. It could have swung momentum in favor of Carolina with the score 0-0 at the time.

- Rod Brind'Amour looked awful. He could have single-handedly won the game for Carolina, and instead, single-handedly blew it. He missed two wide open nets and missed badly. Sergei Samsonov wasn't much better. He missed an open net too and fumbled another one-time attempt that could have caught Emery out of position.


The official update on the alternate captain rotation is as follows: Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter will wear the "A" on the road while Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen will don the letter at home. After 40 games, they will switch.
Meanwhile, Danny Briere is the supersub alternate, getting to wear the A in an injury situation. Combined, the five players along with captain Mike Richards make up John Stevens' leadership group.


One last item of note: - This is just the fourth time in Flyers' history that they have opened the regular season with back-to-back games. The last time this occurred was in 1994-95 (Jan. 21-22)


1970-71: Oct. 10-11

1989-90: Oct. 5-6

1994-95: Jan. 21-22

2009-10: Oct. 2-3

Coming tomorrow on - A full recap of the win plus a notebook with a focus on Riley Cote's role with the Flyers plus more anecdotes from the first day of the 2009-10 season.