An Inspiration to Youth: Karega Leaves Snider Foundation A Better Place

Tarasai Karega’s experiences as an African-American female collegiate hockey star has inspired inner city youth both on and off the ice.

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

For four years Tarasai Karega has been coaching young people and inspiring them to do well on the ice and in the classroom as a program coordinator with the Ed Snider Hockey Foundation. Submitted Photo.

For four years Tarasai Karega has been coaching young people and inspiring them to do well on the ice and in the classroom as a program coordinator with the Ed Snider Hockey Foundation. Submitted Photo.

PHILADELPHIA—Former collegiate hockey star Tarasai Karega knows all about believing in what some would say is an impossible dream.

In a world where young African-American girls aren’t supposed to aspire to play hockey, Karega not only accomplished that dream, she became an All-American who led Div. III Amherst to a national championship.

Because she had experienced the growing pains of being a hockey player of color, Karega was able to share the experience of learning a new sport during her time working with the mostly young Black and Latino youngsters that she worked with in the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation at the Laura Sims Skating Rink on 63rd Street in West Philadelphia.

“There are a lot of times when a kid falls on the ice and says they can’t do it, she said. “I think of time when I wanted to give up and thought I couldn’t do it, but I had to keep pushing through because I had this dream that I wanted to achieve. A lot of times I see myself in the kids.”

As the program coordinator of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation since 2010, Karega has found her joy in watching a growing number of young people learn to love a sport that has taken her places she could have never imagined while her helping get her education.

“Personally it’s been a great opportunity for me to help kids learn to love the sport that I grew up loving and that has taken me all over the world,” Karega said. “It’s great to be able to share with them the love of hockey.”

Karega, who is working on her master degree in sports management at Temple, will be leaving the Ed Snider Foundation in July to pursue a career in that discipline. Her accomplishments at the Snider Center have included increasing the number of kids participating in the program and helping to oversee the rink’s transition from an outdoor facility to an indoor one.

Tina Sloan-Green is the president and founder of the Black Women in Sports Foundation, an organization that specializes in connecting young women with non-traditional sports. She applauded Karega’s ability to engage parents and staff in a sport that sometimes needs explanation.
“I think she was instrumental in getting parents and young people involved because ice hockey is a hard sell,” Green said. “She could relate to young people and their parents. (Karega) came in with a passion for her sport.”
In addition to her work with the children, Karega said her greatest joy has been watching the joy of parents whose kids are excelling on the ice as well as improving their grades in the classroom.

“When you see a parent get excited about their child scoring their first goal … Or getting excited about their child improving in school, I know that we, as a staff, have had some influence on them in some way through our homework help, through our tutoring services that we provide.

The kids are learning that academics are important,” she said. “It’s great to see the parents get happy about seeing their children succeed in the classroom and on the ice.”

Karega (wearing no. 13) knew how to put the puck in the net during his days at Amherst. She led the Lord Jeffs to a Div. III national championship. Submitted Photo.

Tarasai Karega (wearing no. 13 in white) knew how to put the puck in the net during his days at Amherst. She led the Lord Jeffs to a Div. III national championship. Submitted Photo.

Karega’s insight into the sport comes from her days a youth hockey player in Detroit. During her senior year at Cranbrook-Kingswood High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, she was voted Michigan’s Ms. Hockey and scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to lead her school to a state championship.

Playing for Div. III Amherst College, Karega scored 61 goals and 51 assists for 112 points in 110 games. She was a first-team All-New England Small College Athletic Conference as a sophomore and she helped lead Amherst to a national championship.

From the time she started playing youth hockey when she was nine, Karega heard all the name-calling and the cries of “Black girls aren’t supposed to play hockey!” While playing at Amherst, Karega said she got her share of extra-curricular big hits. She had a concussion during her senior year.

Instead of reacting to it with anger or the need for retaliation, Karega said her revenge was putting the puck in the net and excel on the ice.

“Yeah, I want to retaliate, I want to fight back, but increasing that score on the board is really hurting people in the long run,” Karega said with a smile. “Your play on the ice shuts people up.…putting pucks in the net is never a hindrance to any team.”

Green, who had eight girls from her program participating in the Snider Hockey program, said Karega did a good job of coaching the kids to be good teammates to help each other.

“The girls were able to be peer role models for each other and sometimes kids can learn better when they learn from their peers,” Green said.

“She brought a lot of enthusiasm and she was very personable with the kids and their parents,” said Donnell Hudson, a parent with two kids in the program. “(Karega) was good at getting the shy kids out of their shyness. She was about making it fun. … She is awesome.”

Karega said her favorite player was Detroit Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk because he played well without having to resort to fighting and being angry.

One of things that Karega hopes she has imparted to her kids, whether they become hockey player or lawyers, is to not let their anger get the best of them when they are facing adversity.
“It’s important that they learn to face challenges because life is a challenge, there’s no red carpet, there’s no booklet on how to live life without issues, racism or homophobia,” she said.

“I try to teach kids to think first and not lead with their emotions; to lead with their brains, so that they don’t regret things and someone would have learned something from them.”

 

Flyers Withstand Late Rally by Washington in 6-4 Win

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored two goals with one assist in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored two goals with one assist in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

—In Wednesday’s win over the Washington Capitals, the Flyers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two periods and appeared to be cruising to an easy win.  They came into the third period with a three-goal lead.

But then the Capitals woke up early in the third period and made things interesting by cutting the lead to one thanks to goals by right winger Alex Ovetchkin and Troy Brouwer. Jakub Voracek’s goal pushed the Flyers back to lead to 5-3 with a little over eight minutes left.

Just when the Flyers thought they had some breathing room, the Capitals closed the gap to within one with six minutes left on a power-play goal by center Brooks Laich who tipped in a shot by defenseman Mike Green.

Somehow by the skin of their collective teeth the Flyers withstood the furious Washington charge and came away with a 6-4 win in front of 19,919 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We were playing well in the first two periods,” said Claude Giroux, who scored two goals and assisted on another score. “In that third period, they became aggressive and we sat back a little bit. We have to make sure that when we get a lead like that we have to keep it.

Steve Downie’s empty-net goal sealed the deal for the Flyers, who improved their record to 33-25-6, in what was the final regular season game between the two bitter rivals.

Head coach Craig Berube didn’t like the way his team took the pedal off the gas after jumping out to a 4-0 lead, especially the penalties they took in the third period.

“I think we have to get better at playing full games on a more consistent basis,” Berube said. “We’re talking about being a more consistent hockey team, not getting too high, not getting too low. Just come out and play our game for 60 minutes.”

In that third period, Washington was 2-for-2 on the power-play and kept the pressure on the Flyers.  Berube said because the Flyers weren’t on the attack in the third, they became susceptible to penalties.

“In this game in the third period, we didn’t have the puck enough,” Berube said. “We compete in the offensive zone with the puck and we have to keep the puck. We try to wear teams down that way.”

Early in the game, it looked like the Flyers were ready to end the competitive portion of this game in the first two periods.  In the first period, they got goals from Giroux and Voracek, who also finished game with two goals, take an early 2-0 lead.

In the second, Giroux scored on an unassisted goal four minutes into the period. Mike Raffl’s goal gave the Flyers what appeared to be an insurmountable lead with 8:08 left in the second. The Capitals pulled goalie Braden Holtby for Phillip Grubauer.

Washington scored its first goal of the game on a goal by right winger Joel Ward with 6:54 left in the second and it appeared to be window dressing in what was looking to be a rout by the Flyers.

But then Ovechkin and the Capitals made things interesting and took advantage of the Flyers lackadaisical play to make things close.

“For two periods, we played an extremely good hockey game and you can’t let your foot off the gas in this league because teams are going to take advantage of it,” said goalie Steve Mason.

Flyers Bounce Back From Bad Loss to Upend the Rangers

 

By  Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—After getting blasted by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the Flyers had a good start, a shaky middle, and a strong finish to upend the New York Rangers 4-2 Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Wayne Simmonds scored a goal and assisted on another score in the Flyers 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

Wayne Simmonds scored a goal and assisted on another score in the Flyers 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

“I think our guys have good character,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “There’s three or four games like (the San Jose game) this year and we came back and had a real good game.  I was pretty confident that we would come out and play hard.”

Luke Schenn and Wayne Simmonds scored the game’s final two goals to break open a 2-2 tie to put the Flyers (31-24-6) to within a point of the Rangers (33-25-3) in the Metropolitan Division standings. It was Simmonds goal with 6:43 left in the second that put the Flyers on top for good. Schenn’s third-period score sealed it for the Flyers.

For the first five minutes, it looked like the Flyers were headed to a continuation of Thursday’s loss to the Sharks.  Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell committed a pair of penalties and gave a Rangers squad that knows how to score on the power-play two opportunities to put them in an early hole.

But on the both occasions, the Flyers killed the Rangers early power-play chances thanks to their defense and the goaltending of Steve Mason, who came up with some saves.

“It’s not the way you want to start a game because we’re setting ourselves back, but when you’re able to kill penalties against an extremely talented power-play in the first couple of minutes of the games, it was a good feeling moving forward,” said Mason, who finished the game with 33 saves.

Despite being outshot early in the game, the penalty kills fired up the Flyers offense midway through the opening period. First, Vincent Lecavalier scored a goal following up a shot at the point by Simmonds with 13:04 left in the period.

A little over a minute later, Sean Couturier scored the Flyers second goal on a breakaway after he took a pass from Matt Read at center ice to put his team up 2-0.  Simmonds said stopping the Rangers on the power-play got the Flyers offense going.

“We know that they have a great power-play, but our penalty kill has been great all year long,” said Simmonds, who had a goal and an assist in the game. “We take too many penalties as a team as it is and our penalty kill goes out there time after time and bails out of the situation. After that, we just want to get our legs going…we start rolling four lines and everything started clicking after that.”

In the second period, the Flyers experience a lull that enabled the Rangers to get back in the game.  The Rangers got on the board on a goal by left winger Chris Kreider. New York tied the game on a power-play goal by right winger Derick Brassard off a pass from center Brad Richards with 7:18 left in the period.

Even though the second stanza was dominated by the Rangers, the Flyers jumped back into the lead with 6: 43 left in the period on a power-play goal by Simmonds who took a pass from Brayden Schenn at left wing circle and hit a slap-shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist, who played the Flyers tough in recent years.

“I was looking for (Jakub Voracek) back door, but no one even came to me so I thought I was just shoot it as hard as I can and if worse comes to worse there’s a rebound off to (Voracek), but luckily it went in,” Simmonds said.

 

 

Flyer Can’t Overcome Slow Start in Loss to Carolina

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For the first 39 ½ minutes in their game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flyers looked like a team that didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. The team hadn’t skated in two days thanks to Tuesday’s snowstorm. They were down 2-0 until they got a goal from Claude Giroux with 25 seconds left in the second period.

Three minutes into the third period, a goal by Scott Hartnell evened the game and it looked like the Flyers had found their energy.

Unfortunately, the Flyers once again found out that you can’t fall behind a team and expect to win.   Carolina came with a 3-2 win over the Flyers in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.

 Jiri Tlusty’s goal with 6:10 remaining in the third period was the game-winner for the Hurricanes (21-19-9).  

“We didn’t play very good and we ended up losing the game,” said Flyer head coach Craig Berube. “The whole game we weren’t very good. You’ve got to have a lot more energy than that.”

In the first period, the Flyers (25-20-6) couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end and managed to get off just three shots.

“We can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot like this we need to have better starts,” Giroux said. “I think first period was the way we wanted to play. I know we didn’t skate for two days, but that’s not good enough.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes Alexander Semin provided the only scoring of the period when he took a pass from center Eric Staal near the right-wing circle and shot it past Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros and goalie Steve Mason for a 1-0 lead.

“It was just a heck of a shot,” Mason said. “He got a really good shot through (Meszaros) body a little bit. It was just a nice shot.”

The Hurricanes upped the margin to 2-0 on a break-away goal by center Nathan Gerbe, who  took control of the puck that went through the leg of defenseman Luke Schenn, who was standing at the top of the blue near the right wing circle.

Late in the second period, the Flyers got into the scoring column a goal by Giroux, who rebounded a shot by Jakub Voracek that bounced off the pad of goalie Anton Khudobin. Giroux, who was to the left of Khudobin, somehow got the puck behind the Carolina goalkeeper and into the net.

“When (Giroux) scored late that was a big goal for us to give us some momentum,” said Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell.

The Flyers would even things three minutes into the third period on a power-play goal by Hartnell, who shot the puck into the net on a rebound off a shot from Wayne Simmonds that was blocked by Khudobin.

After Hartnell’s goal, the Flyers simply could not sustain the momentum and they looked like a team struggling to find some energy on the offensive end. On defense, they allowed Tlusty’s goal because Voracek broke his stick and didn’t have enough time to get a new one from the bench.  

For the last two games going back to Monday’s overtime shoot-out loss to the New York Islander, the Flyers have been lulled into thinking they can just turn it and off even if they fall behind as they did in Wednesday’s game.

“We just sat back and thought that we were going to wait until overtime and maybe win it in a shootout,” Hartnell said. “That’s not the way to play. It hasn’t been our ‘MO’ when we’ve been successful, but we’ll change that.”

Flyers Rebound from Loss in Chicago

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Thursday Night’s game at the Wells Fargo was a homecoming in more ways than one for the Flyers.

For starters, the Flyers were trying to put an end to a three-game losing streak while getting over the shellacking they took at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks on Wednesday night to cap a long six-game road trip.

It was also the return of former Flyers and now Montreal Canadiens center Danny Briere, who got a video tribute and a standing ovation from the Flyers fans filled with memories of his 30-point performance during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

“We all loved Danny,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “We loved his time here. He’s a great guy and a very good hockey player. There’s a lot of respect from us and his teammates. He got a great welcome from the fans.”

Showing no signs of having played 24 hours earlier, the Flyers gave the 19,748 home fans something to cheer about with a 2-1 win over the Canadians. It was the Flyers sixth straight win on their home ice.

“After our performance in Chicago … we did a good job of five-on-five today,” Jakub Voracek, who had two assists. “Actually, we weren’t thinking about last night when we got our ass kicked. Every game is zero-zero and we knew it, I think we played very well tonight. It was a huge two points to bounce back after a disappointing loss in Chicago.”

Berube said he was happy with the energy and heart his team showed in their first night at home after a long road trip that ended with a horrific loss.

“I think there’s a lot of character in the room,” Berube said. “They certainly weren’t happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team. It didn’t work out they wanted it to, but it was a lot of character and it was a good win tonight. They played a good team game tonight.”

After giving up seven goals against Chicago the previous night, the Flyers clamped down on defense and kept the Canadian from getting any good shots on goalie Steve Mason, who had 20 saves against 21 shots. Montreal didn’t score until there was 56 seconds left in the game.

“It was a great overall effort,” Mason said. “Guys were really hard not to give them too many opportunities to have any rushes because they’re a fast team.”

Claude Giroux, who scored what turned about the game-winning goal in the second period, said the Flyers defensive effort also got the offense going.

“I think we really did a good job,” Giroux said. “Most of our chances offensively is because we played good defensively. When we understand that we’ll have more chances.”

The Flyers also stayed away from the penalty box. The Canadians had just one just one power-play opportunity, but did not score.

With 6:03 left in the first period, Flyers left winger Michael Rafl scored the game’s first goal on a pass from Voracek who was positioned behind the net to the left of Montreal goalie Carey Price. It was Rafl’s second goal of the season. It was really special because his dad was in the building for the Flyers Father-Son Night.

“It was just great, amazing,” Rafl said. “He never saw an NHL game live and all this stuff was just awesome.”

The Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on a goal by Giroux, who got the puck on a cross pass from Voracek, who got his second assist of the game.

The Canadians got their only goal late in the game from center Alex  Galchenyuk.

Third Line Leads Flyers to Win over Buffalo

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Thursday night’s game, the Flyers (9-10-2) had lost all seven games in which their opponent scored the game’s first goal.

During a lackluster first period for the home team, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, in a scrum near the Flyers net, somehow got a shot past goalie Ray Emery to give his team a 1-0 lead. A few weeks ago that goal would have been the kiss of death for a Flyers team that was struggling to score.

But the early Buffalo goal only served to wake the Flyers up as they did all the scoring the rest of the way in a 4-1 win over the Sabres in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Flyers are 5-0-1 in their last six games and have outscored their opponents 22-8.

“After that (first period) we kept at it and kept it at and we finally got a couple in the second,” Emery said.

After struggling in the first period, the Flyers seized control of the game in the second period thanks to their No. 3 scoring line which consisted of right winger Matt Read, who scored the team’s first two goals, Steve Downie and center Sean Couturier, who got assists on those two scores.

“The third line played great,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “It’s nice to get balanced scoring for sure. When you can have everybody chipping in, it goes a long way.”

Read scored the Flyers first goal with 6:53 left in the second period on a pass from Downie. A little over a minute later, Couturier stole the puck from Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder and passed it to Downie who circled around the net and found Read in front of the net who shot the puck past goalie Ryan Miller.

“As a line, we played pretty good,” Couturier said. “We kept it simple, put puck deeps and won some battles. Read finished two nice plays there.”

Read said he, Downie and Couturier often meet about getting deep in the scoring zone and getting the puck to the net and they’re doing a good job of developing chemistry with each other.

“Couturier, Downie and I are having fun out there,” Read said. “We’re doing the simple things and not turning pucks over, just making things happen. The key to our line is to get pucks deep and go to work. Things just went our way tonight, but we have three or four solid lines. Any given night, any line can score. It’s fun to play when all four lines are cooking like that.”

After the second period, the Flyers kept the pressure on the Sabres in the third period. With 10:02 left in the game, Vincent LeCavalier’s goal upped the margin to 3-1. Scott Hartnell added another on an empty-netter with 11 seconds left in the game. For the game, the Flyers outshot the Sabres (5-18-1) 46 to 30.

Meanwhile, Emery had a solid night in goal for the Flyers. He had 29 saves while upping his record to 3-3 on the season. That was something that was not lost on Berube.

“Ray was solid again. He’s done a really good job. He’s a very good goalie,” Berube said. “He wins a lot of games. He goes in there and wins games. Like I say again, he was solid.”

Flyers, Giroux End Scoring Woes in Win over Edmonton

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux celebrates his first goal of the season in the third period of the Flyers win over the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux celebrates his first goal of the season in the third period of the Flyers win over the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—There are several ways you can look at the Flyers 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on a Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

One way is to say it was inspiration from the players-only meeting after Thursday’s embarrassing shutout loss to the New Jersey Devils. They played 60-minutes of solid hockey, especially in the third period when they scored two goals. They outshot the Oilers 34-26.

“I think some choice words were said in that meeting and we all gotta be accountable,” said Flyers right-winger Wayne Simmonds. “I thought we came today and played a much-better game for 60 minutes. We stuck with our structure and we got two more goals in the third period which is always nice.”

Or you can be a cynic who sees the glass as half empty and say the Flyers were playing a last-place (Pacific Division) Oilers squad (4-12-2) that gives up 3.8 goals per game. This is a team the Flyers should beat. The only problem with that logic is that the Flyers (5-10-1) are at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Given the way the Flyers have struggled to score, the team is simply happy with the win and is hoping that it will give them a boost of momentum for their three-game road trip that will take them to Ottawa (Nov. 12), Pittsburgh (Nov.13) and Winnipeg (Nov15).

“I thought that we played a real good third period tonight,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought that we kept playing and doing the right things. I like the way we got the puck deep and forechecked tonight. I like getting 30-plus shots a game and putting pucks on net.”

Another bright spot for the Flyers is that team captain Claude Giroux finally ended his scoring slump and smacked a slap-shot past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk to give his team a 3-1 lead 8:34 left in the third period. It was his first goal of the season.

“It was big,” said Flyers left winger Jay Rosehill. “The bench was really happy and all pumped up. (Giroux) had a big smile on his face. A guy like him isn’t going to go scoreless very often. To get a nice goal like that we needed was big, so I expect him to start rolling now.”

It was especially huge for a visibly frustrated Giroux who had two excellent scoring chances for goals in the second period, but just could not find the net before getting that third period goal. After that second point-blank miss, he shattered his stick in frustration on the Flyers bench.

“Jake (Voracek) and (Scott Hartnell) did a good job of finding me,” Giroux said. “I think we were real aggressive today-the whole team.  The (Oilers) are really talented offensively and we had to make sure that we had a good effort.”

When Edmonton left winger Taylor Hall pushed a shot past goalie Steve Mason to cut the Flyers 3-2 with 6:35 left in the game, fans might have been wondering how the Flyers were going to blow this game given some recent history.

Vincent LeCavalier put that notion and the Oilers to rest with 5:27 left in the third when he took a pass from Braden Schenn and slid it past Dubnyk to put the game away for the Flyers.

Oddly enough, it was Rosehill, known more for his toughness, who got things going for the Flyers in the first period when he took a pass from Mark Streit about four yards in front of the Oilers goal and smacked it past Dubnyk.  He also got the best of Luke Gazdic in a fight that put him in the penalty box for five minutes.

“Rosey did a great job,” Berube said. “He scored a goal and had a big fight. Rosey has done everything we’ve asked of him.”

Later in the first period, Streit assisted on another goal when found a streaking Scott Hartnell who put the puck in the net to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Edmonton cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period on a goal by left winger David Perron.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason finally had a solid game with support from the offense. He finished the game with 24 saves.

Flyers Scoring Slump Continues in Loss to New Jersey

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday

Wayne Simmonds said Flyers are thinking too much during scoring slump.

Wayne Simmonds said Flyers are thinking too much during scoring slump.

PHILADELPHIA—Statistics that say that you have a probability to lose under certain circumstances are only true when your team finds itself in said situation and makes that stat true.

Coming into Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers were 0-6 when the other team scores first. Given the Flyers inability to put the puck in the net on a regular basis, there is always a high probability that they would be finding themselves on the losing end of the score again.

Now make it 0-7.

Just one-minute and 57 seconds into the game, New Jersey got on the board first when Adam Henrique deflected a shot from teammate Eric Gelinas that got past Flyers goaltender Ray Emery.  That gave the Devils what could construed as an “insurmountable” 1-0 lead given the Flyers lack of scoring punch.

New Jersey got two more goals in the third period from Cam Janssen and a late empty-netter by Jaromir Jagr to complete a 3-0 shutout of a Flyers squad that couldn’t seem to find a way to score against an aging Martin Brodeur (22 saves). The 19,604 fans gathered at the Wells Fargo Center voiced their frustration by serenading their team with boos as they walked off the ice.

“It just means we’re not doing our jobs,” said Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds. “The fans react to what they see and it’s not good enough.”

It marked the second straight home game in which the Flyers did not score a goal. They haven’t scored on their home ice since an Oct. 29 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

After the game, the Flyers had a players’ only meeting to figure out how they can break out of their scoring woes. Simmonds, who would not elaborate on what was said during the confab, said the team’s inability to put the puck in the net is more of a mental issue than anything else.

“We’re not penetrating, we’re not getting quality shots,” Simmonds said. “I think we’re thinking too much about passing instead of shooting. When things aren’t going for you tend to pull up for the extra play instead of just throwing stuff at the net. When you get bounces, you get stuff off other team’s skates and sticks. You get the dirty goals. I think that’s where we gotta start. It starts in practice (Friday). I think we gotta come to practice tomorrow. We gotta stop in front of the nets and bury every puck we can.”

Whether the players-only meeting will eventually help the Flyers remains to be seen, but they have to start somewhere.

“The only way I know is to work hard and play hard for your teammates,” said Flyers defenseman Hal Gill. “That’s what we gotta keep working on and find a way to make the puck drop and get that first goal. Things are going to come, we’re going to get guys to score goals. I think we believe that we just have to fight through the times that it’s not happening.”

The one area that really killed the Flyers was their inability to put together anything on their power-play opportunities. Not only were they 0-for-3 on the power play, they could only manage three shots. Head coach Craig Berube was not pleased with his team’s effort with the man-advantage Thursday night.

“We got outplayed and outworked,” Berube said. “That can’t happen. I think there’s some games, if you go back, the power-play looked good, but the puck didn’t go in. On a consistent night, you got to outwork the penalty kill. You go to create momentum for your team. We did not do that tonight.”

Rock Bottom: Capitals Shutout Flyers in Fight-Filled Contest

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Steve Mason gives up to goal to Washington's Jason Chimera as the Capitals scored five goals in the second period. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Steve Mason gives up to goal to Washington’s Jason Chimera as the Capitals scored five goals in the second period. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—With Washington’s prolific goal-scorer Alexander Ovechkin out with an upper body injury and his teammates playing the final game of a five-game road trip, you would think that this would be an opportunity for the Flyers to score a few goals and possibly steal a win.

The Flyers were also hoping that left winger Steve Downie, who was acquired by the Flyers from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade for Max Talbot, would provide some scoring punch. That didn’t work either. He left the game in the second period and was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital to be treated for concussion symptoms.

Instead, the only team doing the stealing was the Capitals who took what they wanted in a 7-0 shutout of the Flyers in front of 19, 702 disgruntled fans at the Well Fells Fargo Center.  The fans took their disgust out on team general manager Paul Holmgren by chanting, “Fire Holmgren.”

“I can’t blame the fans,” Holmgren said. “We’re as frustrated as they are.”

The booing and chanting came during the second period when Washington (6-7-0) scored five goals to pretty much end the competitive portion of the game. The fortunes of a team that can’t score got even more complicated by their inability to stop the other team from putting the puck in the net.

In short, the Flyers (3-9-0) got their collective rear-ends handed to them on the scoreboard. It was no doubt the low point of what has been tough season.

“It can’t get a whole lot lower, can it?”  Flyers head coach Craig Berube asked rhetorically after the game. “Everybody’s been involved in these games before. You can’t sit there and dwell upon it. You gotta play a game (Saturday against the New Jersey Devils). Compete tomorrow, work real hard. That’s what you do.”

Speaking of Holmgren, he addressed the team during the second intermission to express his own disgust at the way the Flyers were playing.

“We played pretty good for 15 minutes. Once they scored their first goal, we just stopped playing,” Holmgren said. “We were afraid to play the game. We were afraid to make plays. We were afraid to battle for pucks, afraid to skate after pucks. It was tough to watch. I’m sure the players are very embarrassed.”

Flyers goalie Ray Emery engages in a brawl with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers goalie Ray Emery engages in a brawl with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Photo by Webster Riddick.

The only thing Flyers fans had to cheer about was a third-period melee which resulted in 114 minutes of penalties. For the game, the teams had 164 minutes worth of penalties.  It started with Wayne Simmonds fighting Capitals right winger Tom Wilson and that escalated into a brawl between Vincent LeCavalier and Caps defenseman Steve Olesky.  Just as Brayden Schenn was mixing it up with Washington defenseman Alexander Urbom, Flyers goalie Ray Emery sprinted down the ice to put a beat down on Capitals net-minder Braden Holtby.

“As a group we were frustrated tonight, our fans are frustrated,” Emery said. “Things didn’t go our way. We all grew up playing hockey and sometimes that happens. We don’t take losses like that.”

Berube said the third period brawl showed that his team wasn’t going to lay down and quit.

“They care,” Berube said. “They’re frustrated. That’s what it boils down to.”

Vincent LeCavalier gets into a brawl with Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky in the third period of a 7-0 loss to Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Vincent LeCavalier gets into a brawl with Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky in the third period of a 7-0 loss to Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Added Holmgren: “They were getting slapped around. It’s a response. Do I have an issue with it? No.”

If this game was scored on a 10-point must system, the Flyers would have won hands down. It’s too bad the Flyers can’t score the way they can fight. If they shot pucks into the net the way their fists hit the faces of Capitals players, they might be Stanley Cup contenders. The video of this brawl will probably go viral on social media sites and will also go to the NHL offices for possible suspensions.

Two Washington players Nicklas Backstrum and Joel Ward had hat-tricks against the Flyers defense.

In the first period, the Flyers out shot Washington 8-4, but when the clock hit zero to end the period, it was the Capitals with a 1-0 lead.  With 2:32 left in the period, Washington was able to get on the board when Nate Schmidt took the puck that caromed off the stick of  Simmonds and passed it to Erat Martin, who found Backstrom in front of the circle to left of the goal. Backstrum shot the puck past Mason for the score.

What made things even more disheartening was that the Flyers held the Capitals without a shot on goal for the game’s first 15 minutes.

“We played pretty good (in the first period), they got the goal, we didn’t respond,” Berube said. “That’s what I saw.”

Things didn’t get any better for the Flyers in that fateful second period either as Washington exploded to score five goals-three within the first five minutes of the period. The Caps scored the first of those goals in 1:24 of the period when Ward got in a shot past Mason.  A little over a minute later, left winger Jason Chimera scored to make it a 3-0.

That goal got Mason pulled from the game, but that didn’t stop the Capitals from scoring. Backstrum got his second goal on another shot between the blue line and circle that went past Ray Emery. Just five minutes into the second period the Capitals had an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

Washington added two more goals-including Backstrum’s third and another in the third to complete the rout.

 

Flyers Scoring Slump Continues in Loss to Pittsburgh

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Flyers Forward Wayne Simmonds deflects a shot from Claude Giroux past Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the Flyers only goal of the game. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers Forward Wayne Simmonds deflects a shot from Claude Giroux past Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury for the Flyers only goal of the game. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Thursday night’s game, Flyers captain Claude Giroux said that a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins would be a turning a point for a Flyers team that is at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings.

For a 1-7 Flyers squad, the ability to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis would be the first step to salvage a season that appears to be going nowhere fast.

The Flyers 4-1 loss to the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center wasn’t what Giroux was hoping for because his team, in spite of its best efforts, simply could not score more than one goal.   It was yet another night of trying to make sense of a scoring slump that seems to have no end in sight.

“I think if we would have won that game, it would have been a big turning point, but it didn’t happen,” Giroux said. “We gotta lot of time to look at tapes and look at what we’re doing wrong. I think if we play 60 minutes, responsible and disciplined about our game, we’ll be fine. We’ll start winning games. It’s just a matter of time. We just need to start believing it before we start playing.”

The good news for the Flyers is that they are off for the next six days and will have some time to figure out a way out of their scoring slump.

“You’ve got to pick your head up and come to work and get ready to play,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “They’re the only guys that are going to dig us out of this hole- the guys in the locker room. They gotta start believing in each other and believe in themselves and playing hockey like they can.”

Meanwhile, Flyers goalie Steve Mason did everything he could to keep the Flyers in the game. He had 32 saves, but allowed three goals. When you’re offense is not scoring, a goalie’s best efforts are not enough.

“It’s not easy right now. We’re struggling to create offense and I’m trying to make the save I need to make and just be patient and eventually, it’ll come,” Mason said. “When you’re only scoring one goal a game, it’s tough to win hockey games. It puts pressure on us in the defensive zone and we’re going have to start creating opportunities to score.”

After a scoreless first period, the Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Jussin Jokinen on a pass from center Eveni Malkin with 10:17 left in the period. Malkin snatched the puck away from Michael Raffl near the blue line and passed it to Jokinen, who slapped the puck past Mason for the score.

Three minutes later, Penguins forward Chris Kunitz rebounded a shot by Matt Niskanen past Mason for Pittsburgh’s second goal of the period.

In that second period, the Flyers played poorly on both offense and defense. They managed just five shots on goal in the period and just seemed lifeless.

“We were brutal,” said Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. “We weren’t executing, weren’t getting pucks deep. We turned over pucks in the neutral zone. They’re a good transition team. We couldn’t break the puck out of our zone and they took advantage of that.”

The Flyers finally got on the board on a power play with just two seconds left in the period when Simmonds deflected a shot from Giroux into the Pittsburgh net past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (24 saves).

That goal the Penguins cut the lead to 2-1 and that’s as close as the Flyers would get because it was back to the salt mines of their never-ending scoring drought. The Flyers managed work harder and had several chances to score, but just came up short

“We score a late goal with three or four seconds left, so we had momentum going in (to the third period),” Simmonds said. “We tried to build on it … But nothing ever came of it.”

On a night when the Flyers held the Penguins to 0-for-4 on the power play, they didn’t put anything together offensively.  When you don’t score, a good offensive team like Pittsburgh is going to put you away. Late in the third, a goal by Sydney Crosby and empty-net goal by Malkin sealed the Flyers fate while sending fans to the exits.