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.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Burning the candle at both ends today having spent seven hours at the Carpenter Complex for Phillies' spring training, I learned tonight the Flyers are trying to acquire a scoring winger before Wednesday's trade deadline.

According to sources in both Columbus and Philadelphia I was told tonight that the Flyers and Blue Jackets have spoken about Columbus forward Raffi Torres.

Torres is having one of his best seasons with the underachieving Blue Jackets and because he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season is attractive to teams looking for scoring help.

Torres, 28, has 19 goals and 30 points so far this season and would be a nice fit on the right wing of a line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.

The problem is he has a cap hit of $2.75 million, meaning the Flyers need to create some space to fit him - or a player of his ilk and similar salary.

They may have started that process by placing defenseman Danny Syvret on waivers.

Syvret, 24, is recovering from a shoulder injury and was hoping to return to the Flyers in the next two weeks.

He has two goals and two assists for four points in 21 games with the Flyers and has a cap hit of $575,000 for this season.

A Flyers source told me they still might keep Syvret on the roster, depending on what happens in the next 60 hours or so.

General manager Paul Holmgren replied to an email I sent him asking what was behind the decision to waive Syvret.

He sent me a one word response:


However after talking to a couple sources in Columbus today and then later with another Flyers source, it became apparent that conversations have happened between Holmgren and Columbus GM Scott Howson about Torres.

From what I can glean, Columbus is looking for a second round pick, something the Flyers don't have to give up.

But, that doesn't mean they couldn't come up with something equally tantalizing to Columbus to pry Torres away.

It should be noted that there are other teams interested in Torres and that by no means does this indicate the Flyers are a frontrunner or have made Torres their prime target, but if nothing else it gives us a sense of what the Flyers are looking for - a forward who can score with an expiring contract in the neighborhood of $2-$3 million.

There are a bevy of those types of players, and we will delve into them tomorrow. But, the wheels are being set in motion. Look for the Flyers to try to be creative and do something on the offensive end of things by Wednesday.


In case you're coming to Clearwater for the start of Spring Training, or you are curious as to who is working in what games, here is the Phils' pitching schedule for the first six days of the exhibition season:

March 3 vs. Florida State
J.A. Happ
Phillippe Aumont
Yohan Flande
Drew Naylor
Joe Savery
Jesus Sanchez
Dave Herndon

March 4 vs. New York Yankees
Roy Halladay
Kyle Kendrick
Jose Contreras
Andrew Carpenter
Sergio Escalona

March 5 at Toronto Blue Jays
Cole Hamels
J.C. Ramirez
Ryan Vogelsong
Antonio Bastardo

March 5 vs. Toronto Blue Jays (B game)
Jamie Moyer
Chad Durbin
Ryan Madson
Scot Matheison

March 6 at Pittsburgh Pirates
Joe Blanton
Danys Baez
Ehren Wasserman
Mike Zagurski
Bill White
B.J. Rosenberg

March 7 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

March 8 at New York Yankees

Friday, February 12, 2010


I like having a second writer from our newspaper come to the Flyers game to offer some commentary. My editor, Rob Parent, was here tonight to write a column.

As it turns out though, he stole my idea that I was going to use for this blog.

But, I decided to go with it anyway - I'm sure his spin will be a lot more whimsical in tone as opposed to my normally blunt style. So, with that in mind, here's hoping you read both, but here's my take:

The Flyers are now 16-7-1 dating back to Dec. 23. In those 16 wins, they have allowed just 28 goals, or 1.75 per game. Actually, if you include the eight losses, it's 55 goals in 24 games which isn't too shabby either at a 2.29 goal-per-game clip.

And while goaltending - mostly Michael Leighton - has been superb in that time, something has been even better - the defense.

It has really come into shape in the last six games since the addition of Lukas Krajicek. Not that he's been the be-all end-all defenseman, but he has brought stability to the corps.

Pairing him with Kimmo Timonen has allowed for Braydon Coburn to play with Oskars Bartulis to make a solid third pair that matches up well with third lines from around the NHL.

As a result, the Flyers are in a lot more games and are playing a style that proves effective in the playoffs.

They're still going to need some scoring, and every game might be edge-of-your-seat, but things are starting to look up for the Flyers, thanks in large part to a consistently strong defensive game.

Here's some notes from the game:

* AT HOME, the Flyers own an 18-11-2 record and have won nine of their last 11 games at the Wachovia Center.

* The Flyers improved their record to 8-3-0 in the first game of games on back-to-back nights and will take on the Canadiens tomorrow night in the second half of their home-and-home, back-to-back series… The Flyers own a 5-5-0 record in the second game.

* Tonight is also the Flyers first victory at home against Montreal since Mar. 6, 2006, a 5-4 shootout victory… They went winless in their previous six games at the Wachovia Center entering tonight (0-5-1).

* The Flyers also posted their first regular season victory over Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who was previously 5-0-0 against the Flyers. Of course, they torched him in the playoffs a couple seasons ago, so this is all relative.

* Jeff Carter has recorded at least a goal in each of his last three games and remains the team leader in points (51), goals (26) and shots (253).

* Leighton earned his third straight win and 11th victory for the Flyers this season and owns an 11-3-1 record, with a 2.20 goals-against average and .920 save percentage since joining the Flyers. If he qualified for the league leaders based on his work solely with the Flyers (he's short by four starts at the moment) Leighton would be fourth in GAA.


He's only one of the finest penalty killers the Flyers have ever employed. He's certainly their best faceoff guy they've had in quite some time.

So, to think Blair Betts could have walked away from the Flyers at the end of the season was somewhat alarming.

Good thing the Flyers did the right thing and locked him up for a couple more seasons.

Betts, 29, agreed to a two-year contact extension worth $1.4 million. He will make $700,000 in each of the next two seasons, a raise of $150,000 per season from what he's making currently.

And at that, the Flyers are getting him at a discount because in many ways he is one of the most important players on the roster.

“Blair has been a valuable addition to our team this year,” general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “He has a strong work ethic and plays an important role on our team. We are pleased to have him under contract for the future.”

Having played in just 39 games this season because of two injuries to his shoulder, Betts has six goals and four assists for 10 points. But it is his work in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill that makes him so irreplaceable.

His 51.3 success rate on faceoffs ranks in the top half of the league, and his tecniques have rubbed off on Jeff Carter, who has gone from an ineffective center on draws to one of the best in the NHL in just one season.

“I’m really happy with the new contract,” said Betts. “It was exactly what I was looking for. I was glad that the Flyers were willing to give me a couple years and show some commitment to me.”

Betts was originally invited to training camp with the Flyers on a tryout. He outlasted a couple other veterans and made the team, signing a one-year contract for the veteran minimum salary on opening day of the season.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Here's a challenge for you, constant reader - find me the last time the Devils blew 2-0 leads in back to back games. Now find the last time it happened in back-to-back games against the same team.

I won't hold my breath.

This, friends, was a very good win for the Flyers. They were pretty sluggish. They mustered all of 15 shots on goal and just one in the third period, but they found a way. They found a way to down the Devils.

Simon Gagne was a demon on his last shift in overtime. He nearly scored twice before he actually got the game-winner. It's shifts like those that will help the Flyers get out of their offensive doldrums.

Don't be fooled by these two wins. The offense is still a bit in disarray, but while they are working out the kinks, the defense and goaltending has been very good and is carrying the team.

A few things of note:

- Gagne scored for the first time in 13 games and for only the second time since registering a hat trick in New York Dec. 30.

- Blair Betts won a crucial faceoff in the third period with the FLyers facing a two-man disadvantage. It allowed for them to clear the puck the length of the ice and kill off most of the penalty time.

- Braydon Coburn later made a nice diving clearing effort to clear the puck to kill off the end of the 5-on-4. That penalty kill seemed to rejuvenate the Flyers heading into overtime.

- The Flyers are now 4-1-0 this season against New Jersey. It feels strange to type it that way instead of the other way around.

- Michael Leighton won his 10th game of the season. He never won 10 games in a season in the NHL before.

- Speaking of Leighton, although it is a much smaller sample of games, he has a better goals against average and a better save percentage this season than Marty Brodeur. Leighton doesn't have enough starts to qualify, but if he did, his goals against average would be fourth in the NHL and his saver percentage seventh-best. Pretty solid work from a guy who was a Carolina throw-away.

- No news on Ray Emery yet - although he did practice this morning. No results from the MRI which is still the most difficult to interpret image in modern day medical history.

- Oh yeah, it snowed here too. A lot. Only 5,580 people showed up, which is a lot more than I thought would be there.


Now onto Jeff Carter, who admitted he took the call from Canadian Olympic G.M. Steve Yzerman today to get to Vancouver and be prepared to play for his country in the Olympics.

Carter is the first alternate for the Canadian team and might be thrust into duty if Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf doesn't recover from an ankle injury.

Here's Jeff:

"It was exciting to get the call," Carter said. "I wanted to make the team the first go-around, but just to get the call and know I have an opportunity to play is pretty exciting.
"He explained the situation to me. They're giving Getzlaf some time to see what happens. I'm just going to go out there and see what happens."

Saturday, February 6, 2010


In the first of what is sure to be multiple moves to upgrade the struggling offense, the Flyers acquired Ville Leino from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth round pick in 2011 Saturday morning.

Not quite Ilya Kovalchuk, eh?

“Ville is a skilled forward that is going to give us some depth,” said Flyers G.M. Paul Holmgren. “I think he has the ability to play up and down our lineup and play with our skilled players. We're excited to have him.”

Leino, 27, has just four goals and three assists in 42 games this season. Holmgren added he was hopeful Leino could join the Flyers in time for tonight's game in Minnesota against the Wild.

Detroit originally signed Leino in the summer of 2007 as an undrafted free agent following a solid career in the Finnish Elite League. In 2007-08 he had 28 goals and 77 points in 59 games with Jokerit, and was named league MVP.

He spent most of 2008-09 with the Wings’ AHL affiliated Grand Rapids Griffins, where he scored 46 points in 57 games. He then led the club in scoring in the playoffs with 13 points in 10 games.

In 13 NHL games last season, Leino had 5 goals and 9 points, and he had 2 assists in seven playoff games.

Leino makes $800,000 both this season and next season, and will cost the Flyers an additional $200,000 against the cap more than Tollefsen who was making $600,000 and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.