Andreas Lilja found his way into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Rangers, and given the way he played, let's hope he doesn't see the ice tomorrow night in Washington. Let's run through his night on Broadway, shift by shift.
1. Lilja steps on the ice with 18:17 left in the first period. 15 seconds later, the puck is in the back of the net. The worst part? Lilja had the puck on his stick in the corner with plenty of time to facilitate a clear. To the video!
Jakub Voracek regained control of the puck along the wall briefly, but was barreled into by a Rangers player nearly immediately. His giveaway was directly responsible for the goal, but Lilja was the reason the Rangers got possession and continued pressure on this shift in the first place. The Flyers lost the game by one goal.
2. Lilja's second shift, about three minutes later, was completely uneventful.
4. Lilja was a little slow getting across the ice to Benn Ferriero, the puck carrier. Ferriero got a pretty good look at a shot as a result. Nothing egregious though, I guess. At the end of the shift, he knocked the puck out of play over the glass with his hand.
5. Lilja had a shot towards goal that was blocked. The puck came back to the point and he flubbed it across the blue line and out to center. Pulled it back in the zone offsides.
6. Stepped on, Rinaldo took a penalty, Lilja off for the PK. A six second shift.
7. Lilja touched the puck once, got it over to Briere who got a shot off. A positive, if again uneventful, shift.
8. The puck was deep in the Rangers end with Ruslan Fedotenko and Tom Sestito fighting for it along the wall. If you want an example of how Peter Laviolette shelters a guy like Lilja with easy minutes, here's Exhibit A. The puck is as far from Ilya Bryzgalov's goal as possible, the Flyers have posession, so let's have Lilja jump over the boards for an easy shift that's a) in the offensive end and b) against New York's fourth line.
That said, the Flyers had a great shift where they controlled possession for a sustained period of time. Then, Tom Sestito played the puck back to Lilja at the point, after which this happened...
9. Rangers generate some pressure. Lilja's not under pressure, though.
10. Lilja got pinched here and wound up staying on for nearly two minutes. Much of the play during these two minutes was in the neutral zone, but John Tortorella took advantage and got the Gaborik-Nash-Richards line out for the latter half. They generated a couple of chances, perhaps using Lilja's fatigue to their advantage, but No. 6 acquitted himself well here given the circumstances.
11. Out for a rare defensive zone draw, Lilja only took a 26 second shift as the Flyers quickly gained possession and cleared the puck.
12. Lilja was thrown out with the Flyers in the offensive end of the ice. Danny Briere created a chance but then touched the puck with a high stick. Only a 10 second shift for Lilja.
13. Another 10 second shift to close the period. Nothing happened.
14. Probably Lilja's best shift of the game. He beat a Ranger in a foot race to get the puck behind the Flyers net, then dished it off to Bruno Gervais who moved the puck up ice. At the other end, Lilja won a puck battle at the opposite end of the ice and wound up getting a bad angle shot on goal.
15. Another short shift with the Flyers controlling the play in the offensive end. He did a nice job of pushing the puck back below the goal line and giving Mike Knuble a chance to get it on goal. But again, nearly all of Lilja's shifts start in the offensive end of the ice. Peter Laviolette is hiding him as much as possible.
16. Defensive zone start against the Gaborik line -- very rare, but also likely because most of the other defensemen were tired after a lot of specialty teams time prior to the shift. Bruno Gervais quickly cleared the puck and the pairing was only on the ice for 12 seconds.
17. Center ice faceoff against the Rangers' fourth line.
18. On his last shift of the game, Lilja played the puck to an invisible man in the neutral zone and iced the puck.
All in all, Lilja had a decent third period with limited work, but much of his game on Wednesday night was forgettable. Peter Laviolette was very clearly sheltering his minutes, but even with that, Lilja was responsible for at least three Rangers scoring chances -- one of which turned into a goal.
I'm not sure why Kurtis Foster sat in favor of Lilja on Tuesday, but Foster couldn't have been much worse. Given his rough performance, I'm hoping Foster is in the lineup on Friday night in D.C.
Oldest Living American Resides in Phillies Spring Training Home of Clearwater, Which Clearly Means… SomethingWhen the Phillies report to spring training down in Clearwater, Florida next month, Chase Utley will be a year older. Ryan Howard and his Achilles will be a year older. Roy Halladay will be a year older. Everyone is going to be older. That's what all of their detractors love to point out. But at least none of them were born in the 19th century like Clearwater neighbor Elsie Thompson who is just about two months away from her 114th birthday, making her the oldest living American and fifth oldest person in the world.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*While special teams are the Flyers' most obvious problem, could the real issue be their inability to hit the target? (BSH)
*Is it too early to take a serious look at McKenzie's draft rankings? (TSN)
*Over in Voorhees, the Flyers spent an entire practice working on the power play. Probably a good idea since it's just awful. (Courier Post)
Infielder Kevin Frandsen proved to be one of the most pleasant surprises for the Phillies in 2012. In a season that saw the infield struggle with injuries, the team called up the California native to fill a void at third base and he proved to be a worthy addition. Frandsen, who was an International League All-Star last year for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, joined the Phillies in late July and proceed to notch a .338 average with two homers and 14 RBI in 55 contests.
The 30-year-old Frandsen, who is a .267 career big league hitter, is slated to be the key reserve for a Phils infield that projects to be at full health headed into the 2013 season.
Last week, I spoke with Kevin about his success with the Phillies, his two managers from last season, his unique foundation and more. Read ahead to check out the full interview.
-Kevin, you had a lot of success last year at the Triple-A level and in the majors. I just wanted to get some thoughts from you on what you would attribute the great output last year.
Just playing. I’ve always done well in the minor leagues, ’cause I played every day and I finally got an opportunity to play every day in the big leagues and it’s taken six, seven years up there, you know, fighting and doing stuff to finally get that opportunity and, you know, that’s all it is. You ask a basketball player how they’re gonna get a chance to shine and it’s to get minutes. It’s the same thing, just getting innings in there and at bats and, hopefully, things go right and they did. I felt like- I’ve always asked if I could sink or swim up there and I felt like I swam. Hopefully, that will continue and I’ll help out the team this year and, obviously, the main goal is to get hardware and winning championships here is the number one goal.
- You got to play for Ryne Sandberg last year with Lehigh Valley and he’s going to take a step upward to be on the Phillies coaching staff this year. Some guys might feel an individual like him could have more impact on players because of the things he has done, the legacy he has built. Do you agree with something like that, where a guy like him will have more impact on young players?
Yes and no. The thing that’s gonna get by with him more than anything is how awesome he is, personally. He’s so humble. You’re not going to find a Hall of Famer with more credentials than him and not talk about himself. That alone makes you want to listen. When he speaks, it’s never about himself. It’s about how you can make your game better. Not about, “Oh, well I did this…”- No! He’s never about that. He’s about making you a better player, (getting) you to respect the game more, by playing harder, by preparing yourself so you’re never going to be in a wrong spot. I think it’s only going to help, having the experience with the coaching staff that we do have already, this just adds a little bit more. I’m excited because I got to play for him for two year and we got really close and I know what type of man he is and I feel like having a good person in the dugout and a good leader to add to what we have here is only going to be key to making big things happen.
- You mentioned that ultimate goal of obtaining some hardware and clearly that would all start in spring training. When do you expect to head down to Clearwater and do you have anything in mind as far as goals in spring training go?
I don’t set goals. I just want to get out there and do what I normally do and that’s play hard. You get the rust off the first week, or so. I’m going to get down there on February 9th. I always get down early, ’cause I like getting situated. There’s no reason to be rushed. I miss being in the clubhouse, ultimately, and it’s nice to get down there early and get into all that.
- You eluded to being a pro veteran with time spent at various levels. What would you consider among some of your career highlights?
Number one is being in “756″, playing shortstop for when Bonds hit (the record breaking home run). Jonathan Sanchez had a no-hitter and I was playing second base that night. (Those were) two incredible moments. And I think last year I made a play against the Reds, it was a play at home and I got a standing ovation, and it was one of the first “standing o’s” I had for a play, or anything like that. You’re not looking for those things as a player, but when it happens, it hits you hard and you just want to play even harder. Not to get more of those, but because you know people appreciate you, and to show that you appreciate them by playing harder.
- We talked about Ryne, but Charlie Manuel is, of course, another manager with a big time reputation that surrounds him. What are your thoughts on Charlie and maybe how he compares to some other guys that have managed you?
Good man. And he’s upfront with you right away. He’s not trying to lie to you and tell you things and then go the opposite way. You know what you’re getting out of him and I think as a player, as a man, it doesn’t matter what your job is, you want to know what your role is and he defined it for me. And he defined it by remembering that I love college basketball in spring training and when I got called up, that’s all we talked about for a day and a half. It means a lot to me that he remembers that, because I know it was in February when we first talked about it, so when he brings it up in July, it means that much more. So, I think you know what type of human being he is and, for me, that goes farther than what you are as a manager and what-not, because I think being a good person will lead you to being a good manager. At some point, you’re going to have people following you because you’re a leader and that’s number one.
- So, you mentioned ideal qualities in a coach meaning a lot to you and I know something else that means a lot to you is your foundation and it’s relation to your brother. Talk about that a bit.
19 For Life, we started eight years ago, just after my brother, DJ, passed away and it’s a foundation that we started to keep his legacy alive, which was never complain, never worrying about himself. It was always about others, and, so, we have a couple events that draw some money for us, so we can spread it around to kids that have battled adversity and to continue to succeed in sports. It’s just a way of giving to the children’s hospital up in Stanford, in Palo Alto, where he was pretty much all 19 years of him battling cancer. So, 19 For Life stands for a lot of stuff. He was born on May 19th, he battled cancer for 19 years, his favorite number was 19, his favorite player was Dave Righetti, who wore 19 and my first number in pro ball was 19. And it means a lot that a lot of people are starting to ask more and more about it because I love talking about my brother. I love talking about what he stood for in his 25 years of living. His 25 years of living was more living than most 80-year-olds. He lived it completely full and it’s just fun to be able to pass that along.
Follow 19 For Life on Twitter.
It sucks. We know. The NHL finally comes back and the Flyers look like the Keystone Kops on the ice. 25th in goals per game, 19th in goals against per game, 23rd in power play percentage, 29th on the penalty kill, 29th in faceoff win percentage, 26th in shots on goal per game, but hey, only 10th in shots against per game!
We all know the special teams are bad. The power play can't score worth a damn and the penalty kill couldn't stop a Devin Setoguchi shootout attempt. They're not getting pucks to the net on the PP, they're passing the puck too often and not shooting enough. On the PK, the opposition is getting clear shooting lanes and the Flyers aren't pressuring enough.
The special teams are bad, but 5-on-5 play has been considerably better.
When the score is tied or close, the Flyers are among the top teams in the league at shot differential. They're ranked fifth in Fenwick Tied, a plus/minus-style measure of shot differential (goals, shots on goal and missed shots) while the score is tied. When the score is close, the Flyers rank 10th in the league in Fenwick.
(We have to eliminate scenarios where the score is lopsided -- one way or the other -- when looking at these numbers because teams always allow more shots when they're winning and they always take more shots when they're losing. If you've been reading BSH for a while, you know this as "score effects." Looking at numbers when the score is tied or close helps us eliminate score effects.)
That's good news. It means the Flyers are controlling the puck and directing pucks towards the net more than their opponents while at 5-on-5. They're in the top-third of the league so far this season in doing so. So why are they 27th in the league in scoring during 5-on-5 play? Their team shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is third-best in the NHL, so again, it's not as if they're hitting a hot goalie every night.
The problem, at least in part, appears to be those missed shots. The Flyers are missing the net a lot. They rank fourth in the league in total missed shots with 79. Only Vancouver, Dallas and Winnipeg have more.
The Flyers have two players -- Claude Giroux with 10 missed shots and Braydon Coburn with nine -- among the league leaders in the category. Giroux, for example, might be shooting at 16.7 percent (two goals on 12 SOG) but he's also missed the net 10 times. Nicklas Grossmann has missed the net eight times; Matt Read and Brayden Schenn seven. We've seen what happens when Matt Read hits the net. He should do that more.
A much simpler way of illustrating this, perhaps: The Flyers are 26th in shots on goal per game and fourth at missed shots per game. Hey, maybe if they hit the net some more, pucks will go in the net.
None of it necessarily matters if the Flyers are giving up power play goals over 30 percent of the time, but hitting the net with more frequency is definitely something the Flyers need to work on in addition to the specialty teams game.