Posts by Ron Flextall

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Your Wasserlasser Team

    IT"S THE END OF THE ROUNDS AS WE KNOW IT...


    1. CPU - Norway: Adam Henrique

    2. Craig - Canada: James vanRiemsdyk

    3. Gavyn - USA: JG Pageau

    4. Lucas - Switzerland: Jared Spurgeon

    5. Riley - Finland: Zach Parise

    6. Gary - Sweden: Jason Zucker

    7. Krys - Poland: Tyler Toffoli

    8- James - Russia: Matt Niskanen

    9. Owen - Italy: Jonathan Drouin

    10. Rich - Czech Rebublic: Damon Severson

    11. Mathias - Germany: Duncan Keith

    12. Sergio - Latvia: Filip Hronek

    13. Matt P - France: PK Subban

    14. Bill - Denmark: Braden Holtby

    15. Larry - Slovakia: Mikael Granlund

    16. Roi - Austria: Nikita Gusev


    and praise Jesus...good luck and goodnight

    ROUND something or other?

    1. Roi - Austria: Jonas Brodin
    2. Larry - Slovakia: Nate Schmidt
    3. Bill - Denmark: Jon Marchessault
    4. Matt P. - France: Phillip Danault
    5. Sergio - Latvia: MacKenzie Blackwood
    6. Mathias - Germany: Nick Schmaltz
    7. Rich - Czech Republic: Kevin Hayes
    8. Owen - Italy: Paul Byron
    9. Jamie - Russia: Anthony Duclair
    10. Krys - Poland: Noah Hanafin
    11. Gary - Sweden: Alex Iafallo
    12. Riley - Finland: Keith Yandle
    13. Lucas - Switzerland: Jacob Markstrom
    14. Gavyn - USA: Marc-Edouard Vlasic
    15. Craig - Canada: Matt Dumba
    16. CPU - Norway: Samuel Girard

    ROUND whatever round it is...who is counting?


    1. CPU - Norway: Nazem Kadri

    2. Craig - Canada: Logan Couture

    3. Gavyn - USA: Cam Fowler

    4. Lucas - Switzerland: Dominik Kubalik

    5. Riley - Finland: Nico Hischier

    6. Gary - Sweden: Kyle Palmieri

    7. Krys - Poland: Jacob Chychrun

    8- James - Russia: Anders Lee

    9. Owen - Italy: Alex Edler

    10. Rich - Czech Rebublic: Tyler Myers

    11. Mathias - Germany: Tony DeAngelo

    12. Sergio - Latvia: Tyler Bertuzzi

    13. Matt P - France: Mikhail Sergachev

    14. Bill - Denmark: Jake Muzzin

    15. Larry - Slovakia: William Karlsson

    16. Roi - Austria: Connor Brown

    ROUND 9

    1. Roi - Austria: Torey Krug
    2. Larry - Slovakia: Ryan McDonagh
    3. Bill - Denmark: Clayton Keller
    4. Matt P. - France: Alex Debrincat
    5. Sergio - Latvia: Ryan Johansen
    6. Mathias - Germany: David Perron
    7. Rich - Czech Republic: Ryan Pulock
    8. Owen - Italy: Jeff Skinner
    9. Jamie - Russia: Brayden Schenn
    10. Krys - Poland: John Klingberg
    11. Gary - Sweden: Esa Lindell
    12. Riley - Finland: Josh Morrissey
    13. Lucas - Switzerland: Colton Parayko
    14. Gavyn - USA: Ryan Strome
    15. Craig - Canada: Mattias Ekholm
    16. CPU - Norway: Brendan Gallagher

    ROUND 8


    1. CPU - Norway: Shea Weber

    2. Craig - Canada: Tomas Hertl

    3. Gavyn - USA: Travis Konecny

    4. Lucas - Switzerland: Kevin Fiala

    5. Riley - Finland: Anthony Mantha

    6. Gary - Sweden: Darnell Nurse

    7. Krys - Poland: Sergei Bobrovsky

    8- James - Russia: Jaden Schwartz

    9. Owen - Italy: Matt Duchene

    10. Rich - Czech Rebublic: Tom Wilson

    11. Mathias - Germany: Evgeni Dadonov

    12. Sergio - Latvia: Rasmus Ristolainen

    13. Matt P - France: Tatar.

    14. Bill - Denmark: Miro Heiskanen

    15. Larry - Slovakia: Chris Kreider

    16. Roi - Austria: Jakub Vrana

    ROUND 7

    1. Roi - Austria: Sean Monahan
    2. Larry - Slovakia: Brock Nelson
    3. Bill - Denmark: Max Domi
    4. Matt P. - France: Rasmus Dahlin
    5. Sergio - Latvia: Oscar Klefbom
    6. Mathias - Germany: Jacob Trouba
    7. Rich - Czech Republic: Nik Ehlers
    8. Owen - Italy: Tyson Barrie
    9. Jamie - Russia: Jeff Petry
    10. Krys - Poland: Alex Killorn
    11. Gary - Sweden: Jamie Benn
    12. Riley - Finland: David Rittich
    13. Lucas - Switzerland: Bryan Rust
    14. Gavyn - USA: Shea Theodore
    15. Craig - Canada: Mark Giordano
    16. CPU - Norway: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

    ROUND 6


    1. CPU - Norway: MAX PACIORETTY

    2. Craig - Canada: BEN BISHOP

    3. Gavyn - USA: MARC-ANDRE FLEURY

    4. Lucas - Switzerland: SAM REINHART

    5. Riley - Finland: CHARLIE MCAVOY

    6. Gary - Sweden: VLAD TARASENKO

    7. Krys - Poland: TIMO MEIER

    8- James - Russia: MARK STONE

    9. Owen - Italy: REILLY SMITH

    10. Rich - Czech Rebublic: SEAN COUTURIER

    11. Mathias - Germany: TYLER SEGUIN

    12. Sergio - Latvia: ANDREI SVECHNIKOV

    13. Matt P - France: CARTER HART

    14. Bill - Denmark: DYLAN LARKIN

    15. Larry - Slovakia: MIKE HOFFMAN

    16. Roi - Austria: JACOB SLAVIN

    ROUND 5

    1. Roi - Austria: Ryan O'REILLY
    2. Larry - Slovakia: RYAN SUTER
    3. Bill - Denmark: FILIP FORSBERG
    4. Matt P. - France: EVGENI KUZNETSOV
    5. Sergio - Latvia: PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS
    6. Mathias - Germany: JAKE VORACEK
    7. Rich - Czech Republic: RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS
    8. Owen - Italy: BROCK BOESER
    9. Jamie - Russia: FREDERIK ANDERSEN
    10. Krys - Poland: CLAUDE GIROUX
    11. Gary - Sweden: JONATHAN TOEWS
    12. Riley - Finland: BLAKE WHEELER
    13. Lucas - Switzerland: DOUGIE HAMILTON
    14. Gavyn - USA: KRIS LETANG
    15. Craig - Canada: NICK BACKSTROM
    16. CPU - Norway: RYAN ELLIS

    ROUND 4


    1. CPU - Norway: TUUKA RASK

    2. Craig - Canada: PATRICE BERGERON

    3. Gavyn - USA: TEUVO TERAVAINEN

    4. Lucas - Switzerland: WILLIAM NYLANDER

    5. Riley - Finland: JAKE GUENTZEL

    6. Gary - Sweden: AARON EKBLAD

    7. Krys - Poland: HAMPUS LINDHOLM

    8- James - Russia: JOHNNY GAUDREAU

    9. Owen - Italy: JORDAN BINNINGTON

    10. Rich - Czech Rebublic: EVANDER KANE

    11. Mathias - Germany: JOHN GIBSON

    12. Sergio - Latvia: THOMAS CHABOT

    13. Matt P - France: SETH JONES

    14. Bill - Denmark: ALEX PIETRANGELO

    15. Larry - Slovakia: TJ OSHIE

    16. Roi - Austria: CONNOR HELLEBUYK

    ROUND 3


    1. Roi - Austria: JT MILLER
    2. Larry - Slovakia: CAREY PRICE
    3. Bill - Denmark: IVAN PROVOROV
    4. Matt P. - France: PATRICK LAINE
    5. Sergio - Latvia: TAYLOR HALL
    6. Mathias - Germany: BRAYDEN POINT
    7. Rich - Czech Republic: ANDREI VASILEVSKY
    8. Owen - Italy: QUINN HUGHES
    9. Jamie - Russia: MORGAN RIELLY
    10. Krys - Poland: ELIAS LINDHOLM
    11. Gary - Sweden: EVGENI MALKIN
    12. Riley - Finland: CALE MAKAR
    13. Lucas - Switzerland: ZACH WERENSKI
    14. Gavyn - USA: BO HORVAT
    15. Craig - Canada: BRENT BURNS
    16. CPU - Norway: ANZE KOPITAR

    ROUND 2


    1. CPU - Norway: MITCH MARNER

    2. Craig - Canada: PATRICK KANE

    3. Gavyn - USA: BRAD MARCHAND

    4. Lucas - Switzerland: SEBASTIAN AHO

    5. Riley - Finland: MIKKO RANTANEN

    6. Gary - Sweden: VICTOR HEDMAN

    7. Krys - Poland: ALEX BARKOV

    8- James - Russia: BRADY TKACHUK

    9. Owen - Italy: JOHN CARLSON

    10. Rich - Czech Rebublic: KYLE CONNOR

    11. Mathias - Germany: ROMAN JOSI

    12. Sergio - Latvia: JOHN TAVARES

    13. Matt P - France: MATT BARZAL

    14. Bill - Denmark: GABRIEL LANDESKOG

    15. Larry - Slovakia: DREW DOUGHTY

    16. Roi - Austria: ERIK KARLSSON

    1. Roi - Austria: CONNOR MCDAVID
    2. Larry - Slovakia: LEON DRAISAITL
    3. Bill - Denmark: NATHAN MACKINNON
    4. Matt P. - France: DAVID PASTRNAK
    5. Sergio - Latvia: SIDNEY CROSBY
    6. Mathias - Germany: ARTEMI PANARIN
    7. Rich - Czech Republic: NIKITA KUCHEROV
    8. Owen - Italy: AUSTON MATTHEWS
    9. Jamie - Russia: ALEX OVECHKIN
    10. Krys - Poland: MATTHEW TKACHUK
    11. Gary - Sweden: STEVEN STAMKOS
    12. Riley - Finland: MARK SCHEIFELE
    13. Lucas - Switzerland: MIKA ZIBANEJAD
    14. Gavyn - USA: JACK EICHEL
    15. Craig - Canada: JONATHAN HUBERDEAU
    16. CPU - Norway: ELIAS PETTERSSON

    Well...to say I’m surprised would be a giant understatement. I would like thank Sergio and Larry for the recognition and all of the people who have offered kind words about my selection as GM of the year. I had no idea I was eligible for this award, but I sure am thankful to be recognized as being worthy. I’ve always tried to play, trade and handle my admin duties with the utmost integrity and honesty. Doing things “the right way” and being viewed as a person who chooses to follow that path is very important to me, which makes this award even more special. Thank you for that.


    This year has been filled with tremendous joy and unbelievable challenges. The fun and success that I’ve had in VHA this was also enhanced by a new addition to our family and many other blessings. In the less positive times, when I was dealing with many of the things Sergio eluded to, VHA was a stabilizing force and source of distraction, entertainment and conversation with old friends. This proved to me again that we offer something even the most current NHL release for console doesn’t...friendships, fun, conversations and community. I hope that VHA can continue to be a source for support, hockey, chatting and a welcome distraction in crazy times, for many years to come.


    Thanks again!


    Earlier this week I was able to collect my first VHA Cup as the Philadelphia Flyers. It was an incredibly long and stressful run, during which I was pushed to the max by 4 very gifted GMs. I consider it an honor to have found a way to beat 2 time cup champion Jamie (TOR), perennial cup finalist, Mathias (PIT), a consistently dangerous playoff performer in Sergio (MTL) and Roi (CGY), who had an incredible season and playoff run. There's a few words I'd like to end with, but first a few numbers...


    SERIES RESULTS:

    Philadelphia over Calgary 2-1 in OT

    Philadelphia over Calgary 1-0

    Philadelphia over Calgary 3-2

    Philadelphia over Calgary 4-1


    Carter Hart was named the playoff MVP after allowing only 4 goals in a 4 game sweep of Calgary. For the playoffs, Hart was 13-2 with a 2.41GAA and a 91.57SV%.


    Anze Kopitar: 21GP - 5G - 13A - 18PTS

    TJ Oshie: 21GP - 7G - 10A - 17PTS

    Mike Hoffman: 21GP - 10G - 6A - 16PTS

    Paul Stastny: 21GP - 7G - 8A - 15PTS

    Erik Gustafsson: 21 - 5G - 10A - 15PTS


    UNSUNG HERO OF EACH ROUND:


    Philadelphia over Toronto (4 games to 0)

    There's no easy way to say this (for Jamie), but every one of the forwards had a great series vs Toronto. Paul Stastny elevated his game and scored some big goals, but frankly, it was the overall depth that put Philadelphia through to the next round here. Perhaps the most unsung hero is Roman Josi, who continually refused to fight Kyle Clifford, until he beat the wheels off him late in the series.


    Philadelphia over Pittsburgh (4 games to 2)

    It sure as hell wasn't whoever was covering Pastrnak! In truth, if I had to pick one player it would be Clayton Keller, who was traded to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh, earlier in the year. Keller was part of the 3rd line with Nylander and Foligno, which did it's job by scoring important goals vs whoever they were thrown out against. Pittsburgh routinely tried to catch line 3 out vs their line of Guenztel, Crosby and Kane, but but Keller and Nylander held their own and found ways to create turnovers and goals.


    Philadelphia over Montreal (4 games to 3)

    This is possibly the most clear pick for me. In spite of a fantastic standin performance in net by Anton Khudobin for the first 2 game, the pick has to be Erik Gustafsson. I don't know that I'll ever be able to explain how insane it was to see Gustafsson (who had 0 playoff goals prior to this series) score 4 huge goals in this series alone. Gustafsson would go on to score the game winner vs Calgary in game 1 of the final, but vs Montreal he was dominant here. Whether he was on human growth hormones or just the beneficiary of a very hot run at he perfect time, we may never know, but he was the clear standout, finishing the series with a +11.


    Philadelphia over Calgary (4 games to 0)

    It's very hard to pick one player from this series, but it's hard to argue against Carter Hart, who only gave up 4 goals in 4 games. In games 1 and 2, Hart faced limited shots, but he made several key saves in each game, which Philadelphia won 2-1 and 1-0, respectively. In game 3, Roi upped his offensive game and by game 4, Calgary was putting serious pressure on Hart, but he would not bend. I could possibly also have made the case for TJ Oshie, who scored some big goals here, but Hart stole the show.


    FINAL THOUGHTS:


    There were many times, over many different seasons, where I played my final game of the season and thought that perhaps someone who played the way I played (strictly within the rules), simply couldn't win the cup. I'm happy to report, that's untrue. I'm also happy to report that the hard work I did on my roster really mattered, thus proving that YOUR participation matters too!


    I could feel the difference in ratings when facing Jamie, who had somehow started a rebuild and still managed to finish 5th in the East. I could feel the depth of my bottom six keeping me within striking distance vs Mathias and his team of all-stars. I couldn't have survived a 7 game series with Sergio without the depth I had in goal and on D. In short, I couldn't have won the cup without having put in my time building assets and bringing it all together for this run. To that end, I hope everyone who watched any of these series believes that you can win, not only by playing cleanly, but by being active, making trades and participating in all of the offseason events that can push you over the top.


    And with that...the honeymoon is over, it's time to start the process of building a team that can defense this title!


    Thanks to all who participated this year and I hope everyone comes back, more active than ever!

    The VHA season has now officially come down to just two GMs, after both Conference Final matchups came down to a deciding 7th game. Can someone say drama? Calgary managed to defeat Matt and Chicago, putting MacKinnon and Rantanen on a collision course with a golf cart and some 19th hole beers. Philadelphia outlasted Montreal in a series where not a single home fan went home happy. Philadelphia fans were left to celebrate their game 7 win as they'd celebrated all the other wins in the series...via the TV.


    So now that we know who is in the cup final, let's look at some stats and how they got here...


    Calgary defeats Dallas 4 games to 3

    Calgary defeats Winnipeg 4 games to 0

    Calgary defeats Chicago 4 games to 3


    Philadelphia defeats Toronto 4 games to 0

    Philadelphia defeats Pittsburgh 4 games to 2

    Philadelphia defeats Montreal 4 games to 3


    Top 5 scorers for Calgary:


    Monahan 18GP - 21pts

    Dzingel 18GP - 20pts

    Marner 18GP - 18pts

    Kassian 18GP - 12pts

    Lindell 18GP - 8pts


    Presumed starter:


    Rittich 2.34GAA and 91.2SV%


    Top 5 scorers for Philadelphia:


    Kopitar 17GP - 15pts

    Stastny 17GP - 15pts

    Oshie 17GP - 14pts

    Gustafsson 17GP - 14pts

    Radulov 17GP - 14pts


    Presumed starter:


    Hart 2.83GAA and 90.9SV%


    By the individual numbers, it's clear both teams have had some great individual performances and both goaltenders have been pretty steady to this point. The top 3 forwards for Calgary have been the lion share of their offense during the regular season and propelled them to 40 wins, which is an impressive stat. In games where Rittich falters, Calgary has all world #2 goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist to clean up the mess, so there's no a lot to dislike about that.


    Philadelphia's strength thus far has been team depth. It was depth that allowed them to exploit Toronto's rebuilding roster and depth that allowed them to stay afloat when facing Pittsburgh's incredible top 6. It was equally depth and slightly stronger goaltending that kept Philly even with Montreal until Bishop fell apart in game 7 for the Canadiens. Philadelphia has 11 players with 10 points or more in their 17 playoff contests and that's nothing to shake a stick at.


    Calgary team stats:


    GF: 53

    GFPG: 2.94

    GA: 52

    GAPG: 2.89

    PP: 20.5%

    PK: 75.7%


    Philadelphia team stats:


    GF: 61

    GFPG: 3.59

    GA: 46

    GAPG: 2.71

    PP: 25.7%

    PK: 82.6%


    Summary:


    All the numbers in the world and previous stats will matter very little when the puck drops on this series. Both teams and their respective GMs have been challenged and managed to stave off elimination. Both GMs and their teams have also swept another team in this playoff run. None of those things can tell us who will get the upper hand and who will close things out, but what they do tell us is both teams deserve to be here.


    When the dust clears and everything settles, one thing is certain...VHA will have a first time cup winner in their midst.

    The drama has been intense to this point, but the matchup in the East is finally set. After defeating Mathias (PIT) and his roster of all-star forwards in 6 games, Bill (PHI) will move on to face Sergio in Montreal for the Eastern Conference Championship. Let's break down some numbers and look inside the series to come...


    HOW THEY GOT HERE:

    Montreal beat Buffalo in 5

    Montreal beat Carolina in 6


    While it never really felt like Montreal was in danger of bowing out in the first round, the second round presented a much different scenario. Carolina, run by Larry Marks, had a very solid, if not explosive, roster. With top end talent like Auston Matthews, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, as well as a lot of depth, there really wasn't a lot of weak spots on the roster to exploit. The second round series started off close, then took a wild turn, as Carolina's goalies melted down in convincing fashion. Robin Lehner, who is probably back on the sauce after his performance, sported a 3.94GAA for the playoffs. Not good. Brian Elliott had a respectable effort in relief, but it wasn't enough to turn a 3-0 hole into a 7 game series.


    Montreal displayed impressive defensive control throughout the playoffs and the numbers largely bare that out. Of the remaining playoff teams, Montreal has the fewest goals against (27), the fewest goals allowed per game (2.45) and the best PK (95%). Beyond that, Sergio has been known to be a very solid defensive player for many years and this year he's also getting top flight goaltending from Ben Bishop, which makes it even harder for the opposition.


    Philadelphia beat Toronto in 4

    Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh in 6


    For a long time the GM of Philadelphia was telling whoever would listen that he knew round 1 would come against Toronto and if he advanced, round 2 would be against what is arguably the best offensive squad the VHA has ever seen. James, in Toronto, had multiple cup wins and even with a depleted roster, due to a partial rebuild, there was no chance he would go quietly. Philadelphia's roster simply outclassed Toronto, exploiting the depth advantage and rolling over the Leafs. In spite of the fact that the games were competitive, the Flyers won and then were rewarded by going from a team that had guys like Kyle Clifford in scoring roles to facing a team that had Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Brad Marchand, Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak weaving in and out of the zone like the Harlem Globetrotters of the hockey.


    The disparity of the rosters was massive and Pittsburgh jumped out to a 1-0 lead almost right away. Carter Hart was pretty steadily outplayed in the first two games, but Anton Khudobin managed to come in during game 2 and steal a in Pittsburgh. In what ended up being one of the all time great series in VHA history, eventually Philadelphia managed to outproduce Pittsburgh's offence by forcing turnovers and finding a few weak goals on Matt Murray along the way. Philly's big guns showed up and so did Pittsburgh's, but the difference ended up being a few timely turnovers produced by the bottom half of Philly's lineup and a lack of big saves by Pittsburgh's goaltending, specifically on OT powerplays, where Philly scored twice.


    Philadelphia has displayed a very different approach to these playoffs. Where Philly has typically been very good defensively, they're now scoring at a much higher pace than previous playoff years. Philly has the highest goals per game (3.9) of any remaining team and the best powerplay at 31.6%. The defense has been acceptable, but they've allowed more goals per game than any team remaining (2.9) and have the 2nd worst PK at 72.7%. Has their defense and goaltending been significantly worse than other teams or is it simply a factor of having played 2 outstanding GMs prior to this point? We'll soon find out if they can hold up vs Montreal, who bounced them out of the playoffs last year in a 7 game series.


    WHO TO WATCH:

    Montreal

    Pierre-Luc Dubois: He has 10pts and a French name, so naturally he's gonna shine in Montreal. Rumor is he does all his postgame interviews in French and the media loves him for it.

    Nick Backstrom: A staple at 1C for years, who has 9pts in this run, but also has an injury making him day to day. Could be a monster loss in the short term, but will be back when it matters.

    Johnny Gaudreau: A Philly native who is unnaturally displaced in Montreal. He desperately wants a hoagie in Philly, but has 9pts and has to lay off the carbs to stay small and quick or he's in trouble.

    Cam Atkinson: With 8pts in the playoffs, Cam is the most famous Cam in hockey since Cam Barker blew out his ankles and went on his 10 year European vacation (where apparently you don't need ankles)

    Filip Forsberg: He's got 7pts, a power forward's frame and great hair. What's not to like? Also, he will always be the guy that got traded for Martin Erat, like Nashville had some dirty photos on the WAS GM.


    UNSUNG HERO:


    Ben Bishop was acquired by Montreal from Washington, as Riley continues to build the roster he drafted as the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. In Washington, Bishop seemed to have pedestrian numbers, but after arriving in Montreal and jumping into the 2nd season, Bishop has been on fire. With a 2.18GAA and .925SV%, Bishop was the difference for Montreal in round 2. He effectively shut down a fairly explosive attack and rarely gave up any weak goals. It's safe to say that had the goaltending not been such a huge win for Montreal in round 2, there could have been a significantly closer series.


    Philadelphia

    Anze Kopitar: If you know a more famous Slovenian in the NHL I'll give you a nickel. Kopitar has been very good throughout the playoffs and now has 13pts, leading Philadelphia.

    TJ Oshie: Mr. Big goal. King of the international shootouts? Excessive pounder of celebratory beers? Whatever you want to call him, he's got 11pts and has been a huge addition in Philly this year.

    Mike Hoffman: I don't know if his girlfriend has threatened to kill anyone lately, but he's sure played well (specifically in the Pittsburgh series) and he's got 11pts to boot.

    Ivan Provorov: At first he was gone and then he was back, then gone and then back. It's safe to say Ivan is back with VHA Philly to stay. He's got 9pts from D and a few big goals too.

    Alex Radulov: Sure, he doesn't have the good looks or great hair of a Filip Forsberg, but he's got 8pts and he loves the game. Isn't that enough? Also hasn't gone on a bender for a while and loves cheesesteaks.


    UNSUNG HERO:

    The line of Clayton Keller, William Nylander and Nick Foligno. When you have to match line 1 and 2 vs the likes of Crosby, Kane, Draisaitl, Marchand and Pasta, the only way you win a series is with fantastic goaltending or by winning the battles vs lower lines. Philadelphia's "Lil Bit of Jiggle" line managed to play a more straight forward game and intercept pucks in the offensive zone and force key turnovers. Usually known for their stickhandling and offensive abilities, this line occasionally managed to shut down and occupy line 1 and 2 vs the Penguins and scored key goals whenever they created those turnovers. Without the goals of Keller and Nylander in games 2-6, Philadelphia might have found themselves in a game 7, or worse.


    PREDICTION:

    I don't make predictions about who will win and lose in any series that I'm involved in. What I will say is that I think this series will look very different than any series either of these teams has played so far in this playoff year. Montreal can score, but they also play defense much differently than Pittsburgh or Toronto and they will sometimes choose to lock down a game. Philadelphia can score, but I think they're pretty unlikely to do so at the rate they've been scoring (almost 4 goals a game) vs Bishop and Montreal.


    On the Montreal side, it's almost been too easy. I mean no disrespect to Carolina, because they're a great team with a good GM, but their goaltending was so bad that Montreal felt like they were always in control vs Buffalo and Carolina. The disparity in goaltending is not likely to be as large and Montreal will likely have to face some adversity and overcome it in order to advance. Philadelphia has been tested...hard. They've seen there adversity already and know where their game has to go to win. They've also been erased from the playoffs by Sergio and Montreal once in recent memory and they're likely to want to avenge that defeat in a big way.


    KEYS TO THE SERIES:


    Montreal

    1) Can Ben Bishop stay hot

    2) Surviving the Nick Backstrom injury

    3) Responding to adversity


    Philadelphia

    1) Can Khudobin hold Philly in it while Hart is out

    2) Continuing to utilize depth scoring

    3) Maintaining a red hot PP vs the playoff's best PK team


    The Flyers are trying to be buyers and we still have a little cap space to work with. Here's the list of potential trade candidates, especially if you've got some decent talent to move:


    NHL Players:


    Scott Laughton (79) - C/LW - 2,300,000 for 2 years (then UFA)

    Ryan Hartman (80) - RW - 1,900,000 for 2 years (then RFA)

    Kevin Shattenkirk (81) - D - 2,100,000 for 1 year (then UFA)

    Alexandar Georgiev (75) - G - 825,000 for 1 (then RFA)


    Hot Prospects:


    Joel Farabee (1st round drafted and playing NHL hockey now at 20)

    Luke Kunin (1st round drafted and playing well for a depleted Wild roster in the NHL)

    Carl Grundstrom (has performed well in AHL and NHL so far)

    Ty Dellandrea (A recent top 10 pick, born leader and high character player)

    Jakob Pelletier (A recent 1st round pick and offensive dynamo in the QMJHL)

    Akil Thomas (102 Points in the OHL last year and another 100+ point season on the way)

    Brayden Tracey (1st round draft pick last year already has 44pts in the WHL this season)

    Kale Clague (Former 2nd round pick has 16pts from D in the AHL and soon to be a King)

    Bode Wilde (2nd round picked D man had 19g and 70pts in 60 CHL games last year)

    Mark Friedman (Journeyman D finally getting a shot in the NHL now)


    Again, I'm looking to add to win my first cup this year. Any deal that's out there needs to be one that helps me along. Willing to talk other names and options. The only untouchable prospect is Trevor Zegras. The only totally untouchable NHL players are Travis Konecny and Carter Hart.