Justin Williams

Hurricanes call off celebrations just as Flyers turn to Cam Talbot

Hurricanes call off celebrations just as Flyers turn to Cam Talbot

VOORHEES, N.J. — There will be no celebration for the Carolina Hurricanes in the event of a victory over the Flyers on Saturday.

According to team captain Justin Williams, who sent out a tweet Thursday afternoon, the Hurricanes are shutting down their celebratory “Storm Surge” — a cub scout-like on-ice skit that has brought an energy and excitement level to PNC Arena following the team’s victories this season.

The creativity and enthusiasm of the "Surge" took off after Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry labeled the Hurricanes players as “a bunch of jerks” for their antics. The team immediately responded by mocking Cherry and selling T-shirts that read “Bunch of Jerks” across the front.

James van Riemsdyk, whose brother Trevor is a defenseman with Carolina, has found a certain amusement with the celebration that even included Trevor showcasing his basketball skills. 

“It definitely seemed a little wacky at first, but as athetes, we’re here to be entertainers as well, so if that’s part of it, then that’s part of it," van Riemsdyk said. "Some of them have been pretty clever. I don’t really have a problem with it. My parents have gone down to a bunch of the games, and they’ve even noticed a difference from last year to this year. The fan experience and the engagement of the fans has been night-and-day different.”

Regardless of whether the Hurricanes shut down their postgame antics or not, Cam Talbot wants to ensure the 'Canes have no reason to celebrate on Saturday. Talbot will start the game in Carolina, another sign the Flyers' organization is turning its focus toward next season.

“I think that’s pretty much why they brought me in is more or less an audition,” Talbot said. “It’s taken me a little bit longer to get this opportunity. Have to do my best with it even though it has been a long layoff and get back into it as quick as possible.”

Talbot has played just two games with the Flyers since the team acquired him from Edmonton on Feb. 16, and he’s made only one start — a 6-3 win over the Devils on March 1.

Interim head coach Scott Gordon said earlier this week he’d like to get Talbot “two or three” starts over their final five regular-season games. 

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Former Flyers in Carolina: Justin Williams talks former teammate, current head coach Rod Brind'Amour

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Former Flyers in Carolina: Justin Williams talks former teammate, current head coach Rod Brind'Amour

Justin Williams and Rod Brind'Amour missed out on being Flyers teammates by one season.

Then they won a Stanley Cup (2006) together and were teammates in Carolina from 2004-09.

Now Williams and Brind'Amour are together again … well, they were reunited last summer, when Williams signed with the Hurricanes and Brind'Amour was an assistant coach.

But this season, it's different. Brind'Amour finally received his opportunity to be an NHL head coach when Carolina hired him as its replacement for Bill Peters on May 8.

Williams was back in the Philadelphia area this weekend, playing in the annual Checking For Charity tournament at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

On Saturday, Williams discussed his relationship with his former teammate and current head coach. Per NHL.com's Adam Kimelman:

"We have a good relationship. We'll continue to have a good relationship. I've talked with Rod quite a bit over the summer. He'll bounce some things off me and maybe I can be his ears (in the locker room) and help out as best I can.

"He's excited for the opportunity. We want to do right by him and we want to do right by the management team that's kept us here and really become a relevant team again."

Let's take a look back at both Brind'Amour's and Williams' departures from the Flyers.

• The Flyers traded Brind'Amour, a fan favorite — certainly one of the reasons why I gravitated toward the sport — to the Hurricanes 12 days into the 1999-2000 season.

In return, the Flyers received Keith Primeau, who also turned into a favorite here. But Brind'Amour became a franchise legend for Carolina. He's now the team's sixth head coach.

Brind'Amour's departure was sort of a sticky situation as it had been rumored for weeks leading up to the actual trade and when it finally happened, No. 17 was devastated.

“Yeah, took a long time to get over it,” Brind’Amour said in summer 2015. “To be honest, it still kinda hurts for me to remember that day. The Flyers meant a lot to me. Everything about the organization and fans, it was a tough place to leave."

There was a storybook ending, though, as the Flyers inducted him into the team's Hall of Fame on Nov. 23, 2015 (see story).

• The Williams trade is often remembered as one of the worst in franchise history, and understandably so. On Jan. 20, 2004, the Flyers traded Williams to the Hurricanes for defenseman Danny Markov.

Some context. The Flyers were deep up front and desperately needed defensive help, so they traded for Markov and acquired Vladimir Malakhov from the Rangers.

The Flyers' playoff run in 2004 ended in heartbreak, falling to the Lightning in seven games. That team was loaded and probably would have won the Stanley Cup had it beat the Bolts.

Markov was a useful player for the Flyers during their run, eating meaningful minutes. But the trade ended up being a major loss for the Flyers.

Williams went on to score 30-plus goals twice, hit the 20-goal mark six times and win three Stanley Cups — one with the Hurricanes and two with the Kings.

He also established himself as Mr. Game 7. He's played in eight career Game 7s and won seven, but more impressively, he holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7s with 14 and is tied with Glenn Anderson for the most Game 7 goals — seven.

Carolina has not made the playoffs since 2008-09 and Williams expressed interest both last summer and Saturday in helping the Hurricanes return to respectability.

The Hurricanes are in the midst of major changes, but they should interest Flyers fans as a divisional opponent with two big connections to the team.

But for the Flyers, the Hurricanes have not given them trouble much trouble of late.

Since the 'Canes were realigned to the Metropolitan Division in 2013-14, the Flyers have gone 10-8-3 — really, 10-11 but hockey rewards overtime losers — against them but have dominated them in recent years. In the past three seasons, the Flyers have gone 9-3-0 against Carolina.

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Flyers miss the point for 1st time in nearly a month

Flyers miss the point for 1st time in nearly a month

BOX SCORE

The Flyers’ streak of points in 12 straight games came to an end Thursday with a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Former Flyer Justin Williams scored twice and now has 14 goals in 33 career games against the Flyers.

Travis Konecny scored his 16th goal of the season.

Petr Mrazek lost his first game since joining the Flyers as he stopped 31 of 35 shots in the process.

The Hurricanes took the ice with heavy hearts as Carolina center Jordan Staal played his first game since the death of his stillborn infant daughter. 

The Flyers and Hurricanes will meet two more times — March 17 in Carolina and April 5 at the Wells Fargo Center.

• An awful start for the Flyers saw the Hurricanes play with more energy and tempo and force the issue in the opening five minutes. They beat the Flyers to pucks, forced turnovers and won a majority of the board battles. Carolina jumped on the board first at the tail end of a power play as Mrazek couldn’t secure Jeff Skinner’s snap shot that slipped underneath his arm. Skinner gained inside position on defenseman Brandon Manning and Williams rammed home the rebound for a 1-0 Hurricanes lead.

• It wasn’t a good first period for Manning, who followed up that shift with a terrible turnover in his own end right to Carolina’s Brock McGinn that produced a prime scoring chance in the high-danger scoring area. Could have easily been a 2-0 Carolina lead.

• Check out Radko Gudas with the dazzling dangle with 7:45 remaining in the first period. He easily maneuvered around Skinner to set up a wrist shot from the left circle.

• Which one defenseman would you want back in a 2-on-1 situation? Shayne Gostisbehere would be my choice. He’s shown over the course of the season how well he reads and defends odd-man rushes, and that was the case again as he dropped to one knee to break up a cross-ice pass. He makes it look easy.

• Terrible 4-on-4 coverage led to the Hurricanes extending their lead to 2-0. Defenseman Justin Faulk skated unchecked in the neutral zone and built up speed before he gave it up to Teuvo Teravainen, who perfectly executed a give-and-go with Sebastien Aho. Teravainen simply out-hustled Robert Hagg to the net and scored on the feed from Aho.

• The second period didn’t look much different than the first, as Carolina was the quicker, hungrier team. When the Flyers worked the puck deep, they couldn’t build any sustained pressure and the Hurricanes did a very good job of keeping them on the outside while clogging up the middle.

• The Flyers came out of the third period with some speed and jump as they cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 3-1. Konecny and Sean Couturier teamed up for a beautiful play. Couturier set up Konecny with a perfect saucer pass that laid down at the last second right on Konecny’s stick. 

• The Flyers picked up their game and brought more pace, especially in transition after struggling to get the puck into Carolina’s zone. Once again, they looked for the perfect pass or play instead of settling for the obvious shot. Konecny passed up on an obvious shot attempt with about five minutes remaining in the period. 

• This was clearly one of Manning’s worst games over the past few months. He looked indecisive with the puck and made another poor decision trying to play the puck from behind his net.