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Illadelph Halflife: Blues At Philadelphia Flyers Preview

Blues can clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight

Even Simmonds knows to say 3 Hail Oshies before each game
Even Simmonds knows to say 3 Hail Oshies before each game

There's a lot of history between the two teams that play tonight. Both the Blues and the Flyers were part of the league's expansion of 1967, which doubled the number of teams in the league instantly. Their fates have crossed since, most famously in January of 1972. In a game in the old Philadelphia Spectrum, coach Al Arbour ripped into a referee during intermission, and a Flyers fan dumped his beer on the Blues coach. The Blues players jumped to their coach's defense, and things escalated from there. Blues players, led by all three Plager brothers, jumped into the stands, sticks swinging, to take on the fans and a handful of Philadelphia cops. The Blues were allowed to finish the game, overcoming a 2-goal deficit to win 3-2. The Flyers management didn't like the way the Blues pushed around the Philly players, and decided to toughen the team up during the offseason. In other words, the notorious Broad Street Bullies that dominated the NHL throughout the 70s .... you have the Blues and the Plager brothers to thank for that.

You're welcome, NHL.

The Flyers don't see us here often, but there are some personal histories with this Philly team and Coach Hitch as well. Ken Hitchcock coached the Flyers from 2002 through 2006. Philadelphia's starting goalie Steve Mason and Jakub Voracek both played for Hitchcock in Columbus, including the season Mason won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. The head coach for the Flyers, Craig Berube, was a player for the Kamloops (BC) Blazers when Hitchcock was coaching there. Later, they worked together when Hitch led the Flyers and Berube was coach of their AHL team the Philadelphia Phantoms. Suffice it to say, they are well-acquainted with each other.

Basically, these two coaches won't be surprising the other during the game. I'd expect that Berube will have a fair amount of Hitchcockian influence in how he runs the game. On top of that, both teams have a lot in stake. The Flyers are currently in 2nd place in the MEH-tropolitan Division, but that is a precarious position. Their 81 points (37-25-7 record) is only 3 points ahead of the last wildcard slot (Blue Jackets at 78 points). Every point is precious, and they're currently riding a 4 game winning streak. They've got to win as many games as they can, to keep another team from rising up to take their spot.  Meanwhile, the Blues can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight. They are looking to rebound from a humbling game against the Hawks, and need to re-establish their winning ways once again, and learn how to do so without Vladimir Tarasenko. Things fall apart, that's just nature. The significant thing is when you get back up and proceed forward again.

With the game being so early, I'm not going to throw a lot of numbers at you. The Flyers have 4 players over the 40-point mark. The goals and points leader is captain Claude Giroux (24g, 48a) with 72 points. That's the man to shut down, and he's currently riding a 5-game point streak. After that, you have Wayne Simmonds (good Ontario boy with 52 points on 23g, 29a) and Jakub Voracek with 50 points (18g, 32a). Fourth is Scott Hartnell (aka Fartsmell), with 44 points (18g. 26a). The other person to watch out for is Sean Couturier . His 35 points is a career high, and he's having a helluva season. This breakout year comes just as he's turning 21, so he's got a lot of good years left in him. The Flyer goaltenders are Steve Mason (29-16-6, 2.56 GAA / .915 Sv%) and Ray Emery (8-9-1, 2.96 / .900 Sv%). You got me on who's starting, although I'd assume Mason.

Further Reading:

Broad Street Hockey

Extra Skater page for the Flyers

Final Verse: It's an early one, as the opening faceoff is 12 Noon St Louis time. The TV broadcast is back on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call is on KMOX 1120 AM. The GDT should drop just before the puck does. Until then, wrap up the Saturday morning cartoons, make your fast food run, and try not to wake up everybody by yelling at the TV. Also, here's one of the more memorable moments from the Flyers edition of 24/7 on HBO: