Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Flyers Lose, Pull Biron; Eagles Need WR

The Flyers dropped one to the Sabres last night by a score of 5 - 2. The game was marked by some bad defensive breakdowns and a weak night by Martin Biron. They desperately needed a big game from the goaltender, as Danny Briere was out with what is being called a shoulder sprain. The Flyers don't know (or aren't saying) how long he'll be out.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but I can't remember the last time Martin Biron made a really big save. I especially cannot recall the last time he made a stop on a breakaway. When Biron seems to encounter a break away situation, you can see him backing into the net and making himself smaller; as if he has no confidence that he can make the save.

Biron's ineffectiveness in net became an issue for at least two of the goals last night. I felt like he should have made better plays on both Maxim Afinogenov goals. The first Afinogenov goal featured Jaroslav Modry being treated like a pylon, but once Afinogenov made a play past Modry, Biron never even attempted anything remotely resembling an aggressive maneuver to make the save, despite their being, at least, a poke check opportunity. The second Afinogenov goal, Biron flat out missed out on the short side.

The worst part of Biron's performance last night is that it gives John Stevens an excuse to give Antero Niittymaki more time than he rightfully deserves in net. And while we're on the topic of John Stevens, someone needs to help me understand how an injured Jaroslav Modry (he will require shoulder surgery and looked old and slow in the last two games) is a better option on the ice than Lasse Kukkonen. Stevens really, really seems to have it out for Kukkonen and I don't understand why. All Kukkonen does is skate well and block shots. My bet is that if Kukkonen were one of Stevens' Calder Cup boys, then the Modry trade never happens.
Photo: ((AP Photo/Tom Mihalek))

Eagles' WR Situation

With Javon Walker signing with the Raiders last night, it would appear that the Eagles WR situation will not be resolved by going the free agent route. That leaves two alternatives, with really, only one of them being probable:

1.) The Eagles will draft a WR. The problem with this route is that Andy Reid almost never starts rookies, let alone rookie WRs, because apparently, it takes like 10 years to learn Reid's highly intricate offense. Of course, that is a smaller piece of a bigger problem that Reid has, in general; his complete inability to quickly put rookies in a position to help the team. Available at pick 17 for the Eagles will be some quality wideouts: Malcolm Kelly from Oklahoma and Limas Sweed from Texas immediately come to mind. Another choice, perhaps further down in the draft, could be Indiana WR James Hardy. I saw Hardy burn Penn State's best CB Justin King for double-digit catches during last football season with great size and quickness, which are two attributes the Eagles desperately need at wide receiver.

2.) The Eagles will trade for a WR. This is the more likely route. Each of the last couple of years, starting with the acquisition of Donte Stallworth from the Saints, the Eagles pulled off some sort of trade that absolutely no one saw coming. Last year was the Takeo Spikes deal. Could such a trade be in the offing this year? Perhaps. The internet has been rife with rumors of the Cardinals and the Eagles hooking up, with the Eagles landing Larry Fitzgerald. Also, as Roy Williams of Detroit expressed unhappiness with his situation in Detroit, it was/is thought that there is a trade opportunity with Detroit.

Furthering the idea of the Eagles getting a WR via trade is the presence of a premium trading chip: CB Lito Sheppard. Sheppard's only problem is staying on the field; he simply can't stay healthy. Otherwise, he's a really good player, who is unhappy about his contract (which I think happens to be fair considering he's missed 14 games in the past 3 years).

Regardless of the player acquired, the Eagles front office, for all of their faults, have been creative in the past couple of years in filling holes through the trade route and this is the likely avenue for this hole to be fixed, or at least patched.

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