Don't worry Flyers fans, the Hair Man is back

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IMG_0366.JPGIt’s been four long years, but the Hair Man is back in town.

Bill
Page of Wilmington, Delaware, known amongst the Philadelphia faithful
as “Hair Man”, spent ten years as a Flyers season ticket holder before
having to take a bit of a sabbatical four years ago. Now that the Flyers
are in the Stanley Cup finals, there’s no way he was going to sit on
the sidelines any longer.

You can catch him all game long in
section 114, although he promises he won’t be sitting for very long
while he does everything possible to get the crowd fired up for the
game. One thing he won’t promise: foul language.

He believes in
everyone having a good time, and had become somewhat famous for taunting
the opposing team during the pre-game warmups. Yet he says he does it
all in a family-friendly manner, never going overboard and never using
foul language.

As we walked through the crowd, we quickly learned that the rest
of the Flyers fans won’t make the same promise. These fans, already
fired up as they taking in a few beverages before the game, were quick
to point out that the Flyers will not only win the next of these two
games but should have won the first two as well.

Kevin Muller, a
season ticket holder for the past 20 years, contends that the Flyers
just need to find a way to get the goaltending and the offense to click
in the same game. He’s also a big fan of Dan Carcillo and was ecstatic
that the Flyers decided to insert him into the lineup. He may not have
played much, Muller said, “but he sure is good for this team.”

When
asked about the Flyers crowd, and whether the Blackhawks will have
trouble with the atmosphere in Wachovia, Muller is much more to the
point.

“Philadelphia is the absolute toughest place to play in the
NHL. That is a fact.”

His friend, Chris Moore of Lafayette HIll,
Pennsylvania, agreed. While there was no doubt amongst this group how
great the Philadelphia crowd is, and how superior this crows is when
compared to the Chicago crowd, Moore also looked longingly back at the
days of the old Spectrum.

“At the Spectrum, you were right on top
of the ice. The Wachovia Center is just more….corporate.”

That
just means the Flyers fans will have incentive to work that much harder.

Robert Ritner, a season ticket holder since the early 1980’s, says
that the Flyers just need to maintain their intensity for a full game.

“The
crowd will certainly help the Flyers get into the game early. The
Flyers have finished games strong, they just need to start off better.
The crowd will help with that.”

Ritner, who says that this past
season was a very tough one to get through for fans, is ecstatic that
they’re in the Cup finals and says he’ll be perfectly happy with the
season even if the Flyers lose. Still, this has been one heck of a ride.

“This
has been the greatest thing ever. I hate to see the season end.”

Ritner
also says that the Flyers’ secret weapon hasn’t worked all that well
for them. When asked what that secret weapon might be, he responded very
matter of fact:

“Marian Hossa.”

Against the odds: Team Europe provides Team Canada’s most difficult challenge in World Cup

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 29: Team Europe looks on after their defeat to Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey Championship during Game Two of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 29, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. Team Canada defeated Team Europe 2-1.  (Photo by Peter Power/Getty Images)
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The World Cup of Hockey is over. It received praise and it received criticism in its return.

In a twist from previous tournaments, organizers decided to field a Team North America, consisting of players under the age of 23 from the U.S. and Canada, and a Team Europe, consisting of players from eight different countries outside of Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and Russia.

Both teams were called gimmicks.

Against the odds — 33/1 to win the tournament when it began — Team Europe overcame a sluggish start in the pre-tournament round to nearly force a third and decisive game in the World Cup final versus powerhouse Canada.

At the beginning, the addition of Team Europe, led by Anze Kopitar, to this competition looked to be a regrettable idea. Team North America skated them into the ground in those pre-tournament games.

Team Canada’s depth and skill was something to behold. Many of this team’s players have come together at the Olympics, and before that, the world juniors. This should give you an idea of their domination the last six years: Sidney Crosby is now 25-0 in his last 25 games for the Canadian national team dating back to the 2010 Olympics, according to the NHL.

After being by far the best team in this tournament through the round robin and semifinal, Team Canada was tested in the final. On Thursday, Team Europe played great for 57 minutes and was that close to winning the game, before Canada’s improbable comeback.

“They played their hearts out. When you see the minutes on some of the guys and you see the effort of players that reached for their potential all the way through the game, it’s extremely painful to see the final result,” Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger told reporters.

“But I feel nothing but pride of the way this group performed today, the challenge they put up against Canada. This group just continued to surprise and beat the odds and beat the thoughts of everybody that was watching.

“I think we turned this into a hell of a final, which nobody expected, and it was certainly the best game played by anybody against Canada in this tournament was today. And now we have to digest it.”

Not bad for a team considered to be a gimmick.

Video: Brad Marchand buries late short-handed winner for Team Canada

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On Monday, Brad Marchand signed a lucrative eight-year, $49 million contract extension with the Boston Bruins.

On Thursday, he scored the winning goal — on the penalty kill — for Team Canada, as it fought back to win Game 2 of the World Cup final by a score of 2-1. Patrice Bergeron and Marchand scored 2:09 apart late in the third period, as the Canadians came back to stun Team Europe, which had controlled a good portion of Thursday’s game.

While it had been the line of Bergeron, Sidney Crosby and Marchand that had caused the opposition problems in this tournament, Jonathan Toews actually set up the winner, as he rushed up the ice on the penalty kill and dropped to Marchand.

The Bruins forward then ripped a shot past Jaroslav Halak.

Not a bad few days for Marchand.

Team Canada stuns Team Europe with late comeback to claim World Cup

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 29: Patrice Bergeron #37 of Team Canada is congratulated by his teammate Steven Stamkos #91 after scoring a third period goal during the third period during Game Two of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 29, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Team Canada defeated the Team Europe 2-1.  (Photo by Peter Power/Getty Images)
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John Tavares hit the post on a wide open net. Steven Stamkos whiffed on a one-time slap shot attempt. And Team Europe shut down every other player wearing red and white — for about 57 minutes.

Yup. It looked like it would be that kind of night for Team Canada.

After running through the World Cup competition during the round robin and semifinal portions, Canada was facing the possibility it could suddenly be forced into a third and decisive game against an underdog Team Europe.

Cue an improbable comeback.

Down 1-0 and finding it difficult to get anything going offensively, it started for Team Canada with a power play goal on a deflection from Patrice Bergeron. And then, with 44 seconds remaining in regulation time, the Canadians struck again, this time on the penalty kill, as Jonathan Toews set up Brad Marchand for what turned out to be the winning goal.

Team Canada, which has won back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics, claims the World Cup, winning Game 2 on Thursday by a final score of 2-1. Sidney Crosby was named tournament MVP.

As per David Amber of Sportsnet, Crosby joins Joe Sakic as the only two players to win the World Cup, Olympic gold, world championships, world juniors, Stanley Cup, Hart Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Team Canada had surged by its opponents thanks to such a deep, skilled lineup and the goaltending of Carey Price. But after taking the first game of this best-of-three series, the Canadians looked completely out of sync in the second act.

They weren’t the faster team, especially in the first period.

They turned the puck over. They gave up too many odd-man rushes. Their power play didn’t capitalize — until it mattered the most.

If it weren’t for the play of Price, this one could’ve been a blowout. His best save came off Marian Hossa late in the third period.

Since the elimination of Team USA, Team North America, Team Russia and Team Sweden, it seemed like the drama would be drained from this tournament as it came to its close, the Canadians looking like a runaway champion.

The final seemed like it was only a formality.

For a long time Thursday, it looked like Team Europe could actually force a Game 3. But Canada has found another way to win.

But this time, it was far from a dominant effort.

Report: No timetable for Sharks’ Meier to return from illness

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Timo Meier poses for a portrait after being selected ninth overall by the San Jose Sharks during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Timo Meier and the San Jose Sharks aren’t taking any chances.

An illness, reported to initially be strep throat, has kept the prospect forward off the ice for five straight days, as per Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area. There is no timetable for his return, the report adds, and that could have an impact on whether Meier makes the Sharks roster out of training camp.

From CSN Bay Area:

The illness has likely diminished Meier’s chances to make the opening night roster, as he’ll miss the Sharks’ second preseason game on Friday and will probably not be in any condition to play on Sunday in Vancouver, either. It was thought before camp that the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft was ready to seriously challenge for a spot on the Sharks, perhaps even as a replacement for Tomas Hertl on the top line if Hertl becomes third line center.

Meier spent last season in the QMJHL, where he scored 34 goals and 87 points in 52 games split between the Halifax Mooseheads and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

It was around this time last year the Sharks sent Meier back to junior, after he left quite an impression on the Sharks coaching staff during the preseason.