Flyers Make Me Sad

by Jeff on May 13, 2011

Talk about a disappointment! What went wrong? The Flyers, one of the best teams in the NHL for most of the season and even being #1 for a time, were expected to go far in this years’ Stanley Cup Playoffs. After a long and historical run to come within two games of winning Lord Stanley’s Cup last season, the Flyers were primed to finish the job this season with their young core of talent intact and a bolstered, more experienced defensive unit. The Flyers defense were the top-rated in the league by many and with a surprising rookie campaign from goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, goal tending did not appear to be a major issue for once. Heading into the All-Star break the Flyers had the best record in the NHL with a 33-12-5 record, 3rd best ever in franchise history.

My friends and I joke about the “mid-season slump” that happens almost every year during or right after the Flyers annual West Coast trip around the holiday season and right before the All-Star break. It’s stretch of about 10-15 games where the Flyers generally play poorly and lose games and valuable points. The Flyers will get some sort of wake up call (or coaching change) at some point during the slump and then start making a run towards the playoffs. This didn’t happen with this team, at least not like it usually does. They lost 3 straight games to the mighty Canucks, Kings and the Ducks right after Christmas and most of us were saying, “here we go again”. But then the Flyers went into Detroit, where they hadn’t won in 17 straight games (23 years) and WON! Finally the curse of Hockeytown was over (the 4-0 sweep in 1997 still stings a bit) and the Flyers went on to a 10-2 record (including the Detroit game) to get to the All-Star break. No mid-season slump and things were looking good.

Somehow though things started to slowly unravel after the All-Star break and the team was never the same, coasting into the playoffs with a 14-11-7 record and losing both the President’s Trophy and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The mid-season slump did come this year, only it happened later and it never really stopped.

Some will point to the absence of Chris Pronger, a massive force on the Flyers D, as the main reason behind the Flyers troubles. Pronger was injured often and played only half the season and only 3 games in the playoffs. He played well enough to help the Flyers secure wins in games 6 and 7 against the Buffalo Sabres to advance but wasn’t a dominant player on the ice. In game 7 the Flyers dominated the game from the start and played like they did in January. Everything seemed just fine in Flyerland, until we met Boston.

Wanting revenge for last seasons’ historic comeback by the Flyers after falling behind 3-0 to the Bruins and winning 4 straight in last years playoffs, the Bruins came at the Flyers relentlessly and the Flyers just couldn’t match their energy and intensity. The Flyers played well at times, especially in game 2 where I thought the Flyers had the better of play, but overall they played poorly and it showed. Had the Flyers won that game 2, perhaps it sparked them to another win in game 5 or even take it to game 7, but it was not to be.

Some people will of course blame the inconsistent goaltending of Boucher, Leighton and Bobrovsky as the main reason. All three goalies had bad games and all three goalies had good games, but there were a number of soft goals given up. On top of that, the Flyers defense that had played solidly throughout the season without Pronger, suddenly became overly cautious and downright lazy. Opposing players were allowed into areas in front of the net and the team was getting beat to loose pucks in their zone. The Bruins also were very good at intercepting Flyers clears.

Then we have all the injuries. Now every team has injuries this time of year, but 6 players needed surgery immediately after the playoffs: Richards (wrist), Pronger (back), Meszaros (wrist), Betts (finger), Versteeg (abdomen), Leighton (hip). Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell were both evaluated for possible hip surgery as well. That’s a pretty good list which includes their top two defenseman (arguably), the leading goal scorer, the captain of the team and best 2 way player, and a key penalty killer and defensive player.

Some, though very few that I’ve seen, will blame coach Peter Laviolette for not getting the team ready to play and there’s been speculation in the media of communication issues between Laviolette and Richards. Some will blame management for not getting enough big bodies to crash and bang with the Bruins and especially for not picking up a top goalie this past season. Truth be told there’s blame to be placed all around.

I blame on the whole damn organization really, from GM on down to the last player. Do I think the Flyers need a consistent starting-caliber goalie? Yes I do and that’s on Paul Holmgren. Despite Bob’s fantastic regular season he is still a rookie learning the NHL game who had never played as many games as he had this past season. I also think that Laviolette did a horrible job with the goalies and the now infamous “goalie carousel”, which is no way to show confidence in any one of them. But then how could he have any confidence? Not one of the three goalies played consistently through consecutive appearances.

There seemed to be a severe lack of effort from just about every player except for JVR and a few others, who was outstanding throughout the playoffs. How do you not “get up” for a playoff game, skate hard and give it your best? Players weren’t skating to loose pucks but instead gliding to them and getting beat. The Flyers outhit the Bruins in a few games, but the Bruins were clearly the harder hitting team.

Were the injuries that debilitating? Was there locker room issues between players and coaches? Who knows for sure but the people inside the “room”, but something has to change for next season. This team was too good to have thrown away one of their best chances in a long time to win a Stanley Cup and that makes me sad and disappointed. Who do you blame?


Does Blogger get a Pass on the Webmaster Guidelines?

October 24, 2009

I was going through my Google Alerts the other day looking to see if there were any hot topics that might be worth reading or writing about when I spotted them. 4 blog posts and 2 or 3 related articles at the bottom of a particular alert on a particular topic. What caught my eye [...]

Read the full article →

Philadelphia Phillies Up Against the LA Dodgers in the NLCS

October 14, 2009

For the second straight year the Philadelphia Phillies are going against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series for the right to go to the World Series. Last year the Phillies beat the Dodgers in 5 games to advance, but this year the Dodgers are a better team, but then again so [...]

Read the full article →

Philadelphia Flyers vs Anaheim Ducks, October 10th

October 12, 2009

Here are some photos from the Ducks-Flyers game at the Wachovia Center in Philly, where I took my son for his birthday. The Flyers lost 3-2 in a shootout with Teemu Selanne scoring all 3 goals for the Ducks, including the only goal in the shootout. The Ducks scored with 16 seconds left on the [...]

Read the full article →

Welcome to my blog!

October 7, 2009

Welcome to my website about, well, me!  I am the Director of Information Technology at a law firm where I run the IT department and manage the firm’s online presence including website development and SEO. I enjoy writing quite a bit and am currently in the process of getting my first book published which involves [...]

Read the full article →