Should Pronger, Richards play good cop-bad cop?

prongerichards.jpgIt always amuses me when writers come up with a cockamamie excuse to explain a team’s struggles. The Philadelphia Flyers, in particular, have dealt with strange (but sometimes one must wonder, truthful) rumors about infidelity and in-fighting in their locker room. Perhaps more down-to-earth excuses like “shabby goaltending” and “talent just a few strides behind New Jersey, Washington and Pittsburgh” can only be used so many times.

Either way, the laptop psychology comes from many areas, but one of the more reasonable takes is from Delaware County Daily Times columnist Anthony Sanfilippo. Instead of depicting a fractured,conflict-filled locker room, he looks at their group as more fragmented than anything else. Simply put, the team might be lacking a unified puck-based vision since Mike Richards is the captain but Chris Pronger seems to wear the pants in the Flyers family.

When Pronger arrived, he brought a different mentality to the locker room than existed with Mike Richards running the show. He had no qualms about calling a teammate on the carpet in front of the whole room. His approach was more brash and in-your-face. It was like bringing Metallica to the Academy of Music.

Yet it still hasn’t sunk in, despite the pangs of late-season success being shown … Maybe it’s because Richards hasn’t figured out how to be the good cop to Pronger’s bad cop … The safer bet is that once the team is retooled in the offseason and a second go-round with Laviolette and Pronger proves that nothing is different in the room, then the players will buy into the style and have the success many expected.

Just not now. Not this year.

I still think there might be an excessive amount of attention paid to the “personalties” of athletes and how they affect a team. Sure, hockey is far more of a team sport than baseball, but in any case it seems hard to believe that motivation is always the largest factor in a team’s success (or lack thereof). Really, if you want to look for what pushes players to achieve beyond their normal levels, don’t look to a locker room that seems like a utopia; instead, check and see if a player is in a contract year.

Nope, most of the time, it’s a matter of luck, coaching and talent. The Flyers don’t really need much in terms of leadership, they just need better players. Especially in net.

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    Coyotes consider Mike Smith (lower body) week-to-week

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    The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.

    While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’ve both at least fairly experienced netminders.

    (Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)

    Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.

    As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.

    Report: Rangers expect Dan Girardi back on Sunday

    PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13:  Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers in action in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    The New York Rangers will have defenseman Dan Girardi back in the lineup against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, according to’s Dan Rosen.

    If that holds true, Rosen reports that Girardi will replace Adam Clendening in the Rangers lineup.

    The Rangers are 3-2-0 to start the season without Girardi, including a nice 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

    For plenty of Rangers fans, this is great news, especially since New York could probably use some fresh legs on a back-to-back. He hasn’t played so far this season thanks to a groin injury.

    More than a few people wonder if the former All-Star is actually a hindrance to his team, however, so expect some jokes here and there.

    These two tweets from earlier this season do a decent job of summarizing the dichotomy:

    /Awkward laugh

    Panthers’ Harper made a childhood dream come true last night

    SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 22: Shane Harper #38 celebrates his third period goal with Gregg McKegg #41 of the Florida Panthers against the Colorado Avalanche at the BB&T Center on October 22, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    “Who is Shane Harper?”

    Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.

    Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:

    Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.

    So, who is Shane Harper?

    For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.

    His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.

    You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone:

    He was modest there, but acknowledged that even playing in the NHL was a dream come true, so scoring a goal must have been even better.

    Ruff: Stars were ‘flat as flat could be’ vs. Blue Jackets

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    On paper, you’d think even a wounded Dallas Stars team would handle its business against a tired Columbus Blue Jackets squad at home.

    Instead, the Stars didn’t have much to show for their efforts on Saturday night beyond Jamie Benn fighting Brandon Dubinsky. They lost 3-0 and left their head coach shaking his head.

    “That was as flat as flat could be,” Lindy Ruff said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “There’s no disguising it. For me there’s some concern because that’s really two games in a row where we were outskated …”

    Ruff added that “there was no emotion inside that game.”


    After falling to 2-2-1 on this young season, Ruff admits that he has concerns about the Stars’ “whole defense right now.”

    While it’s true that the Stars fired 32 (unsuccessful) shots on Sergei Bobrovsky, this Natural Stat Trick graph illustrates Ruff’s case that his team didn’t play well.


    Yeah, that makes a pretty compelling argument that Ruff saw the truth out there. John Tortorella concurred, opining that the Blue Jackets were in a total control.

    While the Stars are picking up the pieces, the Blue Jackets beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Dallas on Saturday. Those teams are off to tough starts, but that’s still an impressive haul for an embattled Blue Jackets group.

    Considering the sour feeling for Dallas and the renewed spirits for Columbus, it’s remarkable what a difference two losses or wins can make.

    But, hey Stars fans, a Benn fight at least gives us an excuse to recall this great photo of his bout with Joe Thornton:

    via Getty