Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Game Day @ Philly 2/4/09

Finally, we get round one of Bruins-Flyers of the '08-'09 season. No need to delve too deeply into the history between these two franchises. We all know that it was Flyers defenseman Randy Jones that ended Patrice Bergeron's season (and nearly much more than that) last season with a blatant cheap shot. We also remember that it was Philly winger Scott Hartnell that all but ended Andrew Alberts's season with a crushing cheap shot to his head as he was defenseless on his knees. The obvious thought is, so tonight is a good chance for payback,right? Yes and no. Philly is absolutely an extremely physical team. Boston won't be able to intimidate them. But they don't have to, nor should they try to. As rough and tough as Philly plays, the B's will surely need to at least match that level of intensity and physicality. But the goal can't be to intimidate or "get even" with them for any of the garbage from last year. I'm sure there will be enough "new" stuff thrown at them to get fired up about. Philly has an astounding 54 fighting majors already this season, tops in the NHL. By comparison, Boston is middle of the pack at #16 overall with 30 fights. Throw in the ages old bad blood between these two, and I think we're in for a brawl or three tonight. Shawn Thornton vs. Riley Cote is almost pre-ordained. And what an entertaining fight that should be. Cote & Thornton have a history, and both love to throw. No hugging matches when these two lock up. Defense? Who needs defense? Just throw until you can't lift your arms. Cote takes on every heavyweight willingly. He's gone with Brashear, Goddard, Orr, Macintyre shelly....a lot of big boys. Not bad, since Cote is only 6'1 210lbs. Number two on the fight leader chart for them is, surprisingly, Aaron Asham. Good old flat-face-Asham has 13 bouts under hisbelt this year. He typically fights the second tier guys, which only makes sense, seeing as he's only 5'10" 196lbs. He has gone with Clarkson, Mayers and Cam Jansen. But those are about the biggest "name" guys he's tangled with. Josh Gratton has 9 battles to his credit to round out their top three. Gratton has gone with some big boys himself (he's 6'2, 214lbs) including Laraque and Peeters. Granted, he took a beating from both of them, but he's willing anyway. If he drops down a weightclass, he's a legit fighter. For the record, old friends Andrew Alberts (2) and GlennMetropolit (1) also contributed to the Flyers 54. As far as the game itself, obviously Jeff Carter is the guy to key on. His 32 goals are about all you need to know. Gagne, Richards, Hartnell and Knuble (still miss him) round out their offensive punch. The Flyers biggest weakness is their D, including goaltending. For my money, Braydon Coburn is their best all around defender. Or maybe I just like his commmercial on the NHL Network. Marty Biron should be in net tonight, and he's just never impressed me as "the man" to lead a team deep into the playoffs. I look for the speedy Boston forwards (and isn't it nice to be able to say that, and not have it mean ONE guy>) to buzz the Philly end and pepper Biron. Predictions: I see Boston winning 5-2. Been awhile since they've "blown out" anyone, and they're due. Lucic, Ryder, Wheeler, Chara and BITZ are your scorers. Now for the fun predictions, the rough stuff. No way we see fewer than two fights tonight. As I said, Thornton-Cote are all but a lock. Beyond that, I'm feeling a Lucic-Gratton throw-down. This could also be a pretty good one, with Lucic winning on points (then again, if Looch connects, I can see Gratton dropping too). I'm even going to go way out on a limb and say Asham gets his flat face flattened out some more, as he tries to impress the home crowd by taking on a much bigger opponent. A much bigger guy not known for his fighting prowess. Yes, Asham-Bitz is my wild card fight of the night. Hey, it's a stretch, but I'm sure Asham will want to get in on the fun somehow. Go B's-Kynch

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