By Al Alven
There was a time not too long ago when even the thought of the Philadelphia Flyers owning the rights to several promising European prospects seemed unrealistic. Times and the NHL have changed, however, and the team now boasts a number of non-North American-born hopefuls on its depth chart.
Without question, Pavel Brendl heads the list. The 20-year-old right winger from the Czech Republic has been the Flyers’ most pleasant preseason surprise to this point. In fact, he currently leads the team with six points (three goals, three assists) in just three exhibition games. The wildcard in the big Eric Lindros deal with the Rangers, Brendl has grabbed the majority of the headlines from other Flyers prospects and rightfully so. He’s been that good so far.
For three of his fellow countrymen, however, the accolades have been more difficult to come by. In this report, we’ll examine the progress of 21-year-old forwards Tomas Divisek, Petr Hubacek and Vaclav Pletka. All three spent all or most of last season with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL. Barring something extraordinary, that’s where they’ll start the 2001-02 season as well.
The furthest developed of the Flyers’ three Czech prospects playing with the Phantoms, Divisek could see some time with the big club this season. Like any Flyers prospect, Divisek faces the unenviable task of attempting to crack a lineup that is literally stacked with quality forwards. Should the Flyers run into injury problems, Divisek could be a call-up candidate be Read more»
Giants Jump-Start With Team Chemistry
The Vancouver Giants played their inaugural games this past Friday and Saturday night at the Pacific Coliseum. As the WHL’s newest franchise, the Giants certainly left us all recognizing the need for some improvement. That said, the way the Giants rallied together, played as a team and came immediately to the defence of one other was nothing short of inspirational.
In their first match against the Kamloops Blazers on Friday, a game they resoundingly lost 5-2, the third period fell into the age-old category of “I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out”. From the get-go, the Giants appeared tentative. They were slow to move the puck up-ice through the neutral zone, reluctant to play the man and generally looked more like a team that was spent than one making its WHL debut. Remember, they played before a sold-out, standing-room only crowd of 7740 hometown fans.
These things happen. That’s OK. The emotions had been running high with anticipation for weeks, and all the hoop-la before the game clearly took its toll. The players all emotionally jacked were at the rink at 3:00 p.m. game-day. Come the 7:30 p.m. opening face-off, they simply came out flat. But to most everyone’s delight, the Giants did not leave quietly.
Time and time again, scraps broke out between unlikely combatants with the Giants routinely on the ‘short’ end of things. All things except a suprising team commitment to one another. A commitment one would not expect to see from a bunch Read more»
Fantasy Hockey Goalies 2001-2002
1. Martin Brodeur- (Devils) Brodeur is arguably the best goalie in the league, and playing behind one of the NHL’s top defenses make’s him a top fantasy value. Brodeur has some of the best reflexes in the league and uses the butterfly style. Brodeur, who is now in the prime of his career, should have a 40-win season.
2. Roman Chechmanek- (Flyers) Chechmanek accomplished many things this past season. He took Brian Boucher’s spot as the Flyers top goalie and made the All-Star Team. Not only did he win 35 of the 57 games he started, but he also had a .921 Save Percentage and 10 Shutouts. The only question to be answered is if he can do it again.
3. Dominik Hasek- (Red Wings) Scotty Bowman was recently quoted comparing Dominik Hasek’s determination to win the cup, to that of Ray Bourque’s last year with the Colorado Avalanche. If Hasek can stay healthy, there is a reason to believe that Hasek could lead Detroit back to the Stanley Cup.
4. Olaf Kolzig- (Capitals) With the Capitals acquisition of Jarmior Jagr the Caps are expected to win more games this year. Also, Kolzig signed a contract extension this summer and with a better team around him, there is no reason “Olie the goalie” won’t be a top tier net minder this season.
5. Patrick Roy- (Avalanche) At age 35, one would have to expect Roy to show some signs of slowing down. But the superhuman Roy, who won his third Conn Smyth trophy last year, continues to get better, as he had Read more»
The regular season is underway in Europe. Here is how some of the Flyers prospects playing in Europe have done so far (note: no reports available yet on players from the RSL– Alexander Drozdetsky (CSKA), Konstantin Rudenko (Yaroslavl), and 2001 overage draftee Andrei Razin (Dynamo)).
Roman Malek: Malek, the starting goaltender for Slavia Prague, suffered a frightening injury this weekend. Losing his mask in a scramble around the crease, he was struck flush in the face moments later by a slapshot. The initial report I have heard is that his cheekbone was shattered and he suffered a concussion from his head hitting the ice.
Milan Kopecky: Kopecky is on loan from Extraliga’s Slavia Prague to talent-starved Division One Beroun.
Pavel Kasparik : Kasparik, who struggled almost all of last season, is off to a much better start in the early going of the 2001-02 Extraliga campaign. In 5 games played for Sparta Prague, he has 3 goals.
Radovan Somik : The Slovakian winger, who would have been with the Phantoms this season had he been able to come to contract terms with the Flyers, is still playing for Zlin. He missed the start of the season with a minor injury, but has played in the last two games. He has a goal and an assist.
Antero Niittymäki: Defending champion TPS Turku has stumbled out of the gates, winning just one of their first five games. Fredrik Norrena started in goal the first several games. Niittymäki has started the last two. Both have Read more»
SOUND TIGERS COACHES OPTIMISTIC
A day after conducting the first official practice session for the team,
Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Steve Stirling took some time out
Saturday morning to meet and greet fans arriving at the Arena at Harbor Yard
to purchase tickets for the Tigers’ inaugural season.
Once at the box office, fans had the opportunity to buy team merchandise and
speak with various team representatives. But Stirling, who was an assiatant
coach with the Islanders last year, was by far the main attraction. The
former Boston University captain answered various questions from fans eager
to get the inside scoop on the team.
Prior to becoming an assistant coach on Long Island, Stirling, 51, served as
as assistant for the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Lowell, Mass., for three
years. During that time, the Islanders and Los Angeles Kings had a
duel-affiliation with Lowell. The Islander brass, particularly Mike
Milbury, became very dissatisfied with the limited ice-time New York
prospects were getting in Lowell this past season, which resulted in
Milbury’s removing all Islander-owner players from the team.
Stirling believes having a primary affiliate will greatly benefit the
“It’ll make a difference,’ he said. ‘The younger kids will be able to
develop because we can control their ice time.”
“Now that (the Islanders) have a primary affiliate, it will help them
because they won’t have to rush an 18-year old kid into the lineup,’ sa Read more»