Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Previewing the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Flyers season with Chris Therien

The Flyers are set to open their season in just over a week on October 2 as they will host Toronto.  I spoke with Flyers radio analyst and former Flyers defensemen Chris Therien about the upcoming season.

Therien is set for another season of Flyers
hockey alongside Tim Saunders in the booth.

Question: What are your expectations for the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Flyers?

Answer: I think it’s going to be a lot better.  Coming off a season like last year where they didn’t do very well I think it’s going to motivate them to do a lot better.  They made some good acquisitions this offseason and all in all my expectations are that I expect this team to be a playoff team.

Question: With the realignment taking effect this year and the Flyers division being very deep from top to bottom, as well as the entire Eastern conference, how do you think the Flyers match up with the rest of the East?

Answer:  Since I expect them to be a playoff team I expect their lineup to be healthy and I know it’s a lot tougher but you look at Pittsburgh, the Rangers, Washington, Carolina and Columbus coming over it’s going to be hard but if everything falls in place for the Flyers looking at it today yes the Flyers are a playoff team but a lot of things have to go their way this season like a lot of things have to go the right way for a lot of other teams this season.

Question: If you had to give the Flyers a grade based on their offseason moves, most notably Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Streit, and Ray Emery, what grade would you give them?

Answer: To me they improved at every single position on the team, there’s a lot of upside with experience but maybe a little downside with age.  I think I would give the Flyers a B+.  It’s not perfect but based on every position I feel like they improved and though you’d like to have a guy who’s 28 and not 36 they got better this offseason.

                                                                                      Alejandro A. Alvarez
General Manager Paul Holmgren and Chief Operating Officer of Comcast Spectacor Peter Luukko introduce Lecavalier, Streit, and Emery at a press conference over the summer.
Question: With another season of Flyers hockey, come more question marks about goaltending.  How do you see the Flyers goaltending battle between Steve Mason and Ray Emery?

Answer: Right now it’s a healthy competition I don’t think either guy is out to get the other guy.  It’s good competition which is always good.  I think this is a situation where both guys can come out and really be effective and help one another but ultimately it comes down to who’s playing better at the certain point in time.

Question: What do you expect the next eight to nine months hold for Flyers 2013 first round pick defensemen Samuel Morin?

Answer: He’s going back to juniors so I’m not really sure.  I loved what I saw in preseason he’s a big guy and in going back to juniors I expect him to progress and get a lot better.  I hope he gets better and is going to have a bright future in the NHL.

Question: After the trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter two summers ago, the ensuing season saw lots of young new faces like Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Matt Read, and Sean Couturier step in and fill the scoring voids left by Richards and Carter and a big reason why the Flyers were 3rd in the NHL in goals scored in the 2011-2012 season.  But last year the Flyers slipped to 9th in the NHL in goals scored.  For a team that always has its fair share of question marks on the blue line and between the pipes how important is it for them to get back to scoring a lot of goals which was key to their success two years ago?

Answer: Obviously there’s some guys that had down years last year.  It’s hard to gauge last year because of the lockout.  In fairness to a lot of guys because of the numbers it’s easy to look at it and think their numbers are less than they should be.  Couturier and Schenn are two guys that know the league well know, how you’re supposed to take care of themselves and those are two guys that need to have better years if this Flyers team is going to take big strides.

                                                                                      John DiGiacomo        
Captain Claude Giroux appears to be ready to go and figures to be
right in the middle of it all for the Flyers again this year.
Question: Any concern that Claude Giroux might be rushing back from his hand injury to play in the opener next week against Toronto?

Answer: I think he’ll be fine, he wouldn’t play if he weren’t able to play and I have no worries about that at all.

Question: We’ve seen the other Philadelphia teams over the past year fail to live up to expectations and it resulted in the Eagles firing Andy Reid, the Phillies showing the door to Charlie Manuel, and Doug Collins resigning as Sixers head coach.  What kind of pressure is on Peter Laviolette to get the Flyers back to the playoffs after having missed the playoffs last season, a rare occurrence for the Flyers within the last 20 years?

Peter Laviolette will look to get things fixed
and get the Flyers back in the playoffs.


Answer: I don’t want to say it’s make or break, obviously he needs to do better like everyone else.  Obviously they missed the playoffs last year but in terms of job status if you’re not winning you lose your job.  There’s no grey area about that.  From that standpoint I think Peter Laviolette wants to come out and have a good season because he’s a good coach.  You can’t coach being afraid of losing your job.





Friday, September 13, 2013

Lighten up and enjoy the greatness that is Johnny Manziel

                It’s games like tomorrow that make college football awesome.   Alabama is once again the number one team in the nation, primed to make a run at their third straight national championship.   Nick Saban and company have been in the headlines considering they’re looking to avenge their regular season loss to Texas A&M last season but especially given the recent reports about certain players receiving improper benefits.  But when it comes to headlines, there’s no one more discussed than the quarterback for the Texas A&M Aggies and defending Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel.

                It was hard not to watch SportsCenter over the summer and hear his name.   Yet time and time again I found myself questioning such reports and wondering if things were as bad as made out to be.  Whether it be his alcohol “issues” or autograph signings at the end of the day it only led to a suspension of one half in the opening game of the season which begs the question…Why can’t we just go back to looking at this guy the way we did last season when he successfully launched his campaign to be the first freshmen to win the Heisman?

                Last season in putting the Aggies on his back and bursting onto the scene in the victory in Tuscaloosa, Manziel had his Heisman moment and never looked back.  Tomorrow represents a chance for him to get the focus back to his on-field greatness and away from his supposed off the field problems.  By January this may not end up being the best game of the college football season.  But it sure seems like this has all the makings of what could be a wire to wire thriller and go down as the game of the year.

                                              Rich Grassle
Don't count him out in this year's race either.
                Manziel proved to all of us last year that he is arguably the most exciting player in all of college football.  He can make plays with his arms and his legs and his ability to escape the rush and turn nothing into something is like no other.  Whether or not he’ll translate to the National Football League is another conversation for another day.  But without question he’s still one of best players in college football which has been masked by all this offseason drama which really proved to be a whole bunch of nothing.

                Should his Aggies defeat the Crimson Tide for the second straight year, he’ll still be all over Sportscenter, but this time for the right reason.  All of a sudden the talk will shift from how long his suspension should be to what kind of a chance he has to win the Heisman Trophy again and what the win does for his Texas A&M Aggies as a contender in the SEC.  I maintained support for him all summer because I was amazed by what he did on the field last year and knew that once he got back on the field to expect the same thing. 

                The bottom line is that Johnny Manziel is used to being the center of attention.  Johnny Manziel is going to have the entire crowd at Kyle Field going nuts tomorrow in College Station in support of their Aggies and their Heisman Trophy winner in one of the most ruckus environments in all of a college football.  I believe he will embrace this chance to turn the attention back to how great he is on the football field.  Texas A&M 30 Alabama 27.