By Tim Panaccio , Philadelphia Inquirer --- November 13, 2000
Simon Gagne was the big winner yesterday in the Flyers' NHL skills competition at the First Union Spectrum.
The 20-year-old forward was a member of the puck-control relay team, but, more important, he won the prestigious fastest-skater award, beating defenseman Andy Delmore once around the rink in 13.89 seconds to Delmore's 14.41.
There were six events, but fastest skater, shooting accuracy and hardest shot are the fan favorites. Right winger Mark Recchi won the accuracy event, knocking out four targets on eight shots, while defenseman Michal Sykora won hardest shot when he was clocked at 98.6 m.p.h.
"I was a little challenged by Mark Recchi," Gagne said. "It's been a long time since Recchi skated [because of a concussion]. That is why I had a better chance to beat him."
By Tim Panaccio , Philadelphia Inquirer --- November 12, 2000
Simon Gagne was gasping for air. He had been on the ice for nearly 90 seconds against the fastest team in the NHL.
The Flyers' 20-year-old left winger looked over his shoulder as he went through the neutral zone to see if it was safe to get off the ice. Instead, he saw Eric Desjardins with the puck.
"I was just so tired," Gagne recalled. "And I see [Desjardins] and he wants to give it to me, and no, I want to get to the bench, but he gives me the puck."
As two Senators began to collapse toward him, Gagne fired the puck into the Ottawa end just as his stride went over the red line.
The puck came high and hard on goalie Patrick Lalime. Gagne slouched to the bench and heard a roar.
Lalime had reached overhead to glove the shot, then bring it down to his feet. Except the puck dribbled out and into the net for what proved to be the game-winner in yesterday's 4-3 Flyers upset of the Eastern Conference-leading Senators.
"Sometimes people say you just shoot the puck and see what happens," Gagne said. "Never have I had a goal like that, never have I shot one that long."
Lalime, who was making just his second start in recent days since missing 10 games with a knee injury, shrugged it off.
"I just tried to reach for it, and I don't know if it was too high or maybe bad judgment," he said. "[The puck] hit the tip of my glove and went in."
The goal came just 1 minute, 42 seconds into the final period, and the Flyers made the lead stand. It was the kind of break that has been long overdue for Craig Ramsay's club.
"We've earned it," the Flyers coach said.
Roman Cechmanek, making his third start in the last four games, had an uneven afternoon. He did, however, make a key pad save late in the game on Andreas Dackell to preserve the win, and finished with 28 saves.
"It is a huge win for everyone who participated in this," Ramsay said. "We tired them out in our end in the third period, let them run out of gas. It doesn't matter who they throw at you. They just keep coming and coming."
The Flyers played a fairly tight game and worked the boards early. They used their size down low and kept the Senators from generating speed through the middle in giving Jacques Martin's club only its third loss this season.
By Tim Panaccio , Philadelphia Inquirer --- November 9, 2000
Maybe this is the start of something good for Simon Gagne.
Having gone nine games without scoring coming into play this week, Gagne notched a meaningless goal in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, and then last night scored a pivotal one as the Flyers defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 2-0, at the First Union Center.
Center Keith Primeau and right winger Rick Tocchet were part of his line, which generated chances all night while keeping the puck alive in the Oilers' end - something the Flyers couldn't do the in their 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh. The Flyers, who carried a 1-0 lead into the third period last night, are 5-1-1 when leading after two periods with Roman Cechmanek in the nets.Gagne nearly made it two goals with a sneaky shot in the crease in the opening minutes of the final period but goalie Tommy Salo had the left post covered. A minute later, Justin Williams almost put one through Salo from a tough angle on the right side.
No matter. Paul Ranheim, whose game has picked up in recent weeks, gave the Flyers insurance with his third goal of the season at 9 minutes, 5 seconds as an Oilers power play expired.
Chris McAllister came out of the penalty box to pick up a deflected puck and centered it to a streaking Ranheim, who went down the slot and slid a backhander through Salo's five-hole, making it 2-0.
The Flyers had a strong game on special teams, especially penalty-killing, which hasn't been in the case in many games this season.
The first 32 minutes of last night's game not only were scoreless, they were rather dull.
Edmonton outplayed the Flyers early in the second period, pinning them in their end with an occasional trap and generating some nice chances turned back by Cechmanek, who had a strong game.
Gagne broke the monotony at 12:41 with his fourth goal of the season. It was one of those memorable goals that elite players routinely make. Given his skill level, it's one that the 20-year-old is expected to make time and again as he matures.
Gaining steam as he moved across the Oilers' blue line, Gagne took a crisp centering pass from Tocchet, swung wide of Frank Musil's attempt to hook him, then cut sharply through the outer edge of the right circle into the crease. Salo probably would have done himself a favor by going out to challenge, but instead he tried to follow Gagne's path, then dove as Gagne nicely shifted his 185 pounds to his left skate, pulled around, and slipped the puck inside the open left side of the net.
A pretty goal, it woke up the building and gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
At the other end, Chad Kilger had several fine scoring chances. He fumbled the puck once while staring at an open net, drove another into Cechmanek's pads from 10 feet, and in the opening period, put a laser shot from the right circle off the goalie's blocker pad.
Edmonton muffed a couple of rushes, including one late in the second period when Doug Weight held onto the puck too long on a two-on-one before dishing it off to Bill Guerin. His shot went wide, something that happened a few times to the Oilers.
Flyers coach Craig Ramsay made some adjustments to his lines, moving his right wingers around. Tocchet moved to the first line with Gagne and Primeau; Justin Williams moved up to Daymond Langkow's line with Ruslan Fedotenko; Jody Hull worked with Ranheim and Kent Manderville; and Gino Odjick went to Peter White's line with Todd Fedoruk.
Neither team generated much offense in a scoreless first period. One of the drawbacks of seeing a club like Edmonton just once or twice a year is that neither knows the other.
That the Flyers were aware of Edmonton's speed was spelled out in the wary approach they took in the first 20 minutes.
The Flyers had a poor period on face-offs, losing 65 percent of their draws to Edmonton.