Posted on: October 15, 2010 10:28 am

Gagne returns, but Downie “assists” in Tampa win

Last night’s game between the Flyers and Lightning marked the return of Simon Gagne to Philadelphia, his NHL home for the first 10 years of his career. Gagne was an integral piece to the Flyers’ Cup run last year and left the team 10<sup>th</sup> all-time on the Flyers’ career scoring list. This town loved him and deservedly so.

However, it was a different ex-Flyer that played a key role in Tampa Bay’s victory last night, Steve Downie.

Downie began his career on the wrong foot. His disturbing hit on Dean McAmmond garnered a long suspension and a terrible black mark on his reputation. He was always touted as a physical player that played in the gray areas, but now he was viewed as a reckless player that had no regard for player safety on the ice.

His rookie year was moderately successful after the suspension as he finished with 6 goals and 6 assists in 32 regular season games and played competently in the Flyers run to the conference finals that season. The next year, he started the season in Philadelphia but found himself shipped out to Tampa Bay, where he was demoted to their AHL affiliate in Norfolk. His numbers down there, 8 goals 25 assists in only 23 games, suggested he was too good to be in the minors.

Last year, he came to camp ready to work with Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet. He began the season slowly but, with the guidance of Tocchet, seemed to find more control in his game. He found chemistry with second year star Steve Stamkos and exploded offensively right before the Olympic break with 11 goals and 9 assists in the last 27 games. Over a full season, those numbers would equate to a 33 goal 27 assist season.

With 2 assists last night, he now has 1 goal 3 assists in the first three games this season. The similarities between Downie’s stats and Tocchet’s early career statistics are eerily similar. With the right progression and continued chemistry with Stamkos, Steve Downie could develop into a premier power forward in the NHL very soon.

Category: NHL
Posted on: October 12, 2010 1:27 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 1:28 pm

10/11/2010 Avalanche @ Flyers

1st period - Flyers dominate the period. Claude Giroux's shorthanded tally was another impressive display of skill. He and Mike Richards make a dangerous penalty killing tandem. Carter's goal was only a few seconds after Richards got out of the box. 

2nd period - Colorado is starting to get the better of the play in this period. For a 19 year old scoring line player, Matt Duchene responsibly backchecks like a 15 year veteran. A few years from now, we may be saying how the Avs drafted the best player in the 2009 entry draft.

3rd period - Nice goal by Milan Hejduk. A goal scorer's goal for sure. After the Avs tied the score, the game has been a bit vanilla as each team seems to not want to lose. An absolutely pathetic shot by Kyle Quincey. Wide open in front of Bobrovsky, and the lets loose this weak little shot right into the crest on "Bobs" jersey. Kyle will never be a big goal scorer on the blueline. Lucky bounce for Carter on the 3rd Flyers goal. Mike Richards is an underrated passer. 

Overall, another strong effort for the Flyers. I am really starting to like having Carter play RW on Richards’ line. He could return to the 40 goal plateau if he stays there this year. Look for another 50 assist year for Richards as well. (Plea to Laviolette: Please take Carcillo off that line. He is not good enough to play on a top line.) Claude Giroux has been Philadelphia’s most dynamic player early in the season and he may be ready to break out statistically this year. Sergei Bobrovsky with another good showing. I like his movements and the way he carries himself on the ice. I am concerned that he seems to lose sight of the puck easily. Hopefully the coaching staff can work with him on puck recognition to minimize the miscues. 

For the Avs, it was the first time I have seen them this year. Overall, they had some good stretches of play. Stastny and Duchene will be a great 1-2 punch at center for years to come. Chris Stewart is an emerging power forward and Hejduk can still snipe the puck as evidenced by his third period goal. However, this team NEEDS a top end defenseman. Cumisky, Liles, and Quincey are all good support defensemen and Foote provides leadership, but the biggest hole in this lineup is clearly a number one defenseman. Forward depth needs to improve as well. Anderson is a nice goaltender, but this team needs Calvin Pickard to develop quickly before they are ready to make any kind of Cup run.

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Category: NHL
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