What the Flyers Showed During the Playoffs

     If you were wondering where I have been for the past week it’s because I’ve been face deep in my new phone satisfying my new addiction of Words With Friends (IgotThatPANDEMIC if you want to play).  For that week the Philadelphia Flyers went from a convincing game seven win against the Buffalo Sabres to being swept by a hungrier and better Boston Bruins team. (Is there anyone playing better than them right now? If Tim Thomas keeps playing like this, Boston will be a problem.)  So where do the Flyers go from here? If I’m Paul Holmgren here’s how I’d assess it.

The Negatives:

The Goalie Situation- I understand how good of a coach Peter Laviolette has been for the Flyers, but he completely butchered the goalie rotation heading into the Playoffs.  To play your 22-year-old Sergei Bobrovsky for the entire season and then abandon him in the playoffs shows that Laviolette panicked. How else could anyone explain his decision to start Michael Leighton? (Seriously since Transformers 2, it is the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a while. If Leighton was an Autobot he’d be the twins.  They’re useless, they’re goofy, and you can’t figure out what made Michael Bay say “YES! This is a great idea!”)   It was known that the goalie was the Flyers’ biggest weakness and Laviolette helped teams exploit it.  He should’ve picked one goalie played him the entire playoffs. Laviolette’s “divinity” as a coach needs to become more realistic and Holmgren has to address his goalie situation during the off-season.

The Captain- I’ll be the first to say Mike Richards should no longer be the captain of the Flyers (my vote is for Kimmo Timonen, I’ll explain in a bit). He finished the playoffs with one goal and six assists in 11 games.  The Richards’ sympathizer says “Stats aren’t everything, look at his toughness!” If toughness is looking so lethargic and so unemotional that it was almost unwatchable then yeah, Richards is tough. He looked irregular and uncoordinated to the point where a few times I had to ask myself, “Did he just learn how to skate?” He was a far cry from the Mike Richards in 2010, when he willed his team that was a seven seed to the Stanley Cup Finals. What happened to the energy? Where is the leadership? Why hasn’t Richards’ thrown his body around like he was known for? (Picture me yelling these questions like Marlon Brando did when he was yelling, “STELLLLLA!”)

Jeff Carter and Dan Carcillo- Oh no, I just mentioned the untouchable Dan Carcillo! I’m sure someone just took off their shirt and started screaming “Who said something about Carbomb?!” First, what decent athlete has the nickname “Carbomb?” Second, Carcillo is terrible, absolutely terrible. He had 30 penalty minutes in the playoffs. If there was a specific stat for how many power-play goals were scored after a player got a penalty Carcillo would be at the top. He has nothing that can help the Flyers. He is supposed to be an enforcer, but all he does is get senseless penalties followed by his expletive-laden response to the refs. He is supposed to be an energy guy, but how can he be when he’s never on the ice? If you want to see energy guys, look at Darroll Powe and Blair Betts.  They constantly hustle and get off the ice when they’re supposed to.  They’re now a solid second unit on the penalty-kill while Carcillo sits in the box.

     This brings it to Jeff Carter who was playing solid hockey down the stretch of the season and was proving those who said he was overrated wrong (my hand’s raised).  He came in as the leading goal scorer for the Flyers and played team hockey (unlike previous years where it was so predictable that every time Carter brought the puck into the zone he was shooting).  However, in six playoff games he managed two points and sustained an injury that kept him out for five games.  It’s another year that Carter has been non-existent in the playoffs.  The Flyers don’t need a regular season monster; they need someone to come up big in the playoffs. The Flyers signed him to an 11 year contract which they don’t need either.  Package him and trade him away and save me from having a conniption. If I was Dexter, I’d have a hard time following Harry’s rules on this one.

The Positives:

Claude Giroux, James van Reimsdyk, and Daniel Briere- Although those Flyers’ season was a bust there are some positives that fans can look forward to next year.  Claude Giroux broke out this season and became the playmaker that the Flyers utilized on the power-play and penalty-kill alike.  He had a solid 76 points on the season and was the catalyst for JVR’s breakout in the playoffs. Holmgren, sign this man long-term.

     JVR’s stellar play has only been a month or two long, but his level of play is so high right now that it’s hard not to get caught in the hype.  He’s tied for the lead in goals for the playoffs and consider 2011 his arrival.  He is finally playing like he should be playing, by throwing that body 6’4” 200 pound frame of his.  If I had to compare JVR’s physique and skill set to another player it would be Alex Ovechkin.  Is he nearly as good? No, but if he continues to play like this I won’t mind having him instead of Ovechkin (who is still second to Sidney Crosby as the best player in the NHL, but that argument’s for another day).

     As for Briere, he is the most clutch player on the Flyers.  Yeah he’s had underachieving regular seasons, to deny this man his performance in the playoffs is nothing short of crazy.  He has 96 points in 97 playoff games.  Briere has officially established himself as a playoff force. If he can carry it over to the regular season then the Flyers’ offensive core is set for years. Someone get that man a nickname!

Kimmo Timonen Leading the Defense- I’m going to have to break everyone’s hearts here and I apologize in advance…Chris Pronger is done.  It’s time for the Flyers to move on and accept that Timonen is the best defenseman on the team.  Pronger’s broken wrist and hamstring pull kept him out of the lineup for the last two months of the season (including playoffs) and he’s rumored to have a herniated disc. But don’t fret, Timonen is a solid defenseman whose decision-making and his hockey IQ are just astounding.  He blocks shots, sets up the power-play, breaks up offensive rushes, and always makes the right move.  If this was Lost, Timonen is John Locke. (I tried thinking of a character Carcillo could be, but they’re all overqualified.)

The Flyers are still young- In a sport where the players skate, little damage is taken by the lower body and its joints because of the ability of players to glide instead of step.  Therefore players like Briere, who’s 33, can play well into their later years (something that doesn’t usually happen in other sports).  Having said that, the Flyers only have a few players past their 30’s (Briere, Timonen, Betts, and Jody Shelley) and their young players like Kris Versteeg, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and JVR are all under the age of 27. It’s something to be excited about for years to come.  If Bobrovsky can become the goalie they hope or if the Flyers pick one up in the offseason then the Flyers will have their best chance to win a Stanley Cup.  (I wish Goldberg still played hockey.)

     So to wrap up, the Flyers have a lot going for them, however there are parts that need to be fixed.  If the Flyers want to make a splash next year and not be considered a bust, they have to address the negatives in their situation. And with the way Holmgren has improved the team each year, Flyers fans shouldn’t stress too much.  Now if only Ed Stefanski would trade Andre Iguodala…

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  • Melanie  On May 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Ok Chazz good article…I agree with everything you say….BUT it is not Laviolette or Holmgren who are in charge…They are a puppet regime for Clarke and Synder, who are stuck in th fog of the 70’s. The S & C team are destroying the Flyers..They can not get their heads or hearts out of an era long gone. Hence the Pitful Kate Smith ,Lauren Hart duo. The record for the “kate ” are down to a negative. The old saying ” It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” should be the flyers mantra…The fat lady has sung AND left the building. time to put ” Kate ” to rest…Let her lay in peace…Come on S & C get your heads clear..Never forget the past…But Please live in the NOW…Let your coaches coach…Let your players play…Find a new ” Kate”….Make new memories…new traditions…3/4 of your fans weren’t alive when “The Broad Street Bullies”..ruled the ice….S & C come into the 21st century …You will love it….

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