Ovie, Richards, Pronger … oh my! A Philly dandy

October, 6, 2009

The NHL might have financial issues in a few of its markets, but we once again were reminded just how far the game has come on the ice Tuesday night.

Anyone check out Philadelphia's 6-5 overtime win over Washington? I needed a towel after that one … and I was sitting on the couch.

Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Richards combined for seven goals in a thrill-a-minute affair that left your jaw open.

"A lot of goals, a lot of skill, a lot of offensive guys doing their thing," veteran Flyers winger Ian Laperriere told ESPN.com by phone after the game. "We made a few mistakes [defensively] we didn't like. But purely from the show perspective, it was pretty entertaining tonight. It was a fun game to be part of, especially when you're on the winning side."

The Flyers are 3-0-0 to start the season, notching wins over Eastern Conference foes Carolina, New Jersey and these Cup-contending Caps. It sure beats the start to last season, when the Flyers were winless in their first six games (0-3-3) before turning around their season.

For Laperriere, it's exactly what he signed up for so far. He's on the team to provide leadership, score the odd goal, play physical and, of course, drop the gloves when needed -- in other words, he's a perfect Flyer. He danced with Caps forward Matt Bradley on Tuesday night.

When the phone rang in July and it was the Flyers looking for him, the unrestricted free agent was overjoyed.

"They're on the verge of being successful, and I wanted to be part of a winning team," said Laperriere, who left Colorado. "Once they got Chris Pronger, you knew they wanted to win right away, and when they called us, I was happy to be part of a team that wants to win, that wants to do anything in order to win. As a professional athlete, that's all the matters."

One last note on this game, for what it's worth. Ovechkin has five goals in three games. Last season, he didn't reach five goals until Nov. 14, 14 games in.

Canadiens move
It's a move that likely won't get much attention leaguewide, but I like GM Bob Gainey's pickup of Marc-Andre Bergeron in Montreal. The price is right ($750,000 for one year), and it addressed a need for a point man on the power play after the loss of Andrei Markov to injury.

Let's not kid each other here. As Bergeron himself told me Tuesday, Markov is one of the top blueliners in the NHL, an all-around player who can do it all. No one is going to replace him at this point. But Bergeron has a specific offensive skill the Canadiens will benefit from. The 28-year-old, somewhat quietly, has compiled 52 goals over the four post-lockout seasons, that's eight more than Markov's 44. He had 14 last season for the Wild, and he will help Montreal's power play.

Interestingly, Bergeron and his agent, Paul Corbeil, turned down several tryout offers last month, wanting to wait until something concrete came along. Their patience paid off.

And finally …
I'm in a great mood, folks. You're looking at the 2009 champion of my AL-only fantasy baseball league. It's been a long six months, but I took it "one day at a time," spending enough time on our fantasy site to have my wife seriously concerned that I have a problem.

For whatever reason, and maybe it's because it's a daily challenge, it's by far my favorite fantasy sport. We also have a great group of guys in the fantasy league here in Toronto, and we've been at it for nine years. A longtime buddy, Nicholas Andrews, is my partner on the team, which is called "Herm Winningham" after the former Met/Expo (don't ask).

It's our second fantasy championship in this league. I stopped short of spraying champagne on myself, however.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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