Stevens on hot seat? Biron needs to step up; call Startare 'Nostradamus'

    This is Philadelphia, so there's already a buzz that Flyers coach John Stevens' job security could be in trouble if the club's losing streak reaches eight games after weekend games with the New Jersey Devils.


    Stevens should NOT be on the hot seat. Last year's strong regular-season finish and the team's drive to the Eastern Conference finals has to count for something, right?

   The Flyers are 0-3-3 because their goaltending and defense have been lousy, their power play has been inconsistent, and they miss some of last year's players (R.J. Umberger, Jason Smith, Sami Kapanen, the injured Derian Hatcher and Jim Dowd) more than they expected.

   That said, relax. Take a deep breath. It's early. The Flyers have played mostly strong teams thus far and they've been competitive in every game except for their horrible effort in a 5-2 loss at Colorado.

    Give the four new defensemen time to play together and hold the fort until the injured Randy Jones and Ryan Parent return in December.

    This team is short on defensive talent right now, but the effort has been there in five of the six games. So don't blame Stevens.

     If the losing continues, GM Paul Holmgren will probably deal some prospects/draft picks/veterans for a proven defenseman. That's a much more logical solution than firing a man who was the Hockey News' Coach of the Year last season.

   * * * * * *

    Goalie Marty Biron needs to step up tomorrow when the Flyers play at old nemesis New Jersey. Biron (5.00 GAA) needs to stop the bleeding. He will be matched against the NHL's hottest goalie, the ageless Martin Brodeur (1.30 GAA).

    * * * * * * *

   Kudos to Brian "Nostradamus" Startare, who does the Flyers' pre-game, between-periods and post-game shows on WIP radio.

   Following a Flyers home game last week, I was sitting next to Startare at a Wachovia Center bar when he shouted: "Two-run homer on this pitch. Do it for Grandmama, Shane!"

   A milli-second late, the pitch was thrown and Shane Victorino, whose grandmother had died recently, slammed a two-run homer to tie the score at 5-5 and help the Phils defeat the Dodgers, 7-5, in the clinching game of the NLCS.

    Startare was mobbed by half the people in the bar _ as if HE was the reason for the homer.

   Hey, there's good karma coming off the guy, and before the World Series started, he told me the Phils would win in six.

    After his call last week, who am I to disagree?

_ Sam Carchidi