PHILADELPHIA FLYERS COOKED

The Flyers lost their third game in a row tonight, virtually eliminating them from the Playoffs. There is a very minuscule chance for the Flyers to sneak into the Playoff Picture, however, they would need help from a bunch of teams that are ahead of them. The Flyers Number 1 Ranked Power Play is now 0-for April. Their penalty kill is ranked third. So, judging this season cannot place blame on the Special Teams.

Ok…well with adversity comes questions and the blame game will begin. Many fans have called for the ousting of Paul Holmgren. Although Holmgren has made many good moves in free agency as well as trades, he has failed to sign the players to get this team over the hump. Nonetheless, Holmgren did try and sign Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and trade for Rick Nash in the offseason. The Flyers brass was unsuccessful with all of these players.

It is no coincidence that ever since star defenseman Chris Pronger went down with post concussion syndrome, this Flyers team has not been the same. And while the Flyers were trying to sign the top free agents and trade for the best talent, they lost some of their own key players. Matt Carle, who came to the Flyers from the Tampa Bay Lightning, had grown into a top tier defenseman and was lost in free agency. The Flyers also lost Jaromir Jagr, who really had a comeback season and made all of the Flyers youth get better.

Lets take a look at why this season has went downhill. First and foremost, the teams major weakness was their Defense and turnovers. As mentioned earlier, the Flyers did try to address their defense in free agency and also at the trade deadline, but were not willing to part with their young talent. However, Holmgren did trade budding young star James Van Reimsdyke in the off season for Toronto Defenseman Luke Schenn. JVR has been superb for the Maple Leafs while Luke has struggled to be one of the Flyers top Defenders.

Another crippling aspect was the loss of Andre Mesaros and Brayden Coburn, probably their two best physical defensemen to injuries. So in retrospect, the Flyers must make some moves this off season this time around. The Flyers need to start addressing their weakness and the major fault is defensive breakdowns. Had the Flyers signed Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, their misfortunes could have been erased. Weber and Suter would bring the same type of physical play and leadership that Pronger gave this team.

Every year the Flyers have fell short in the Goaltending Department. Holmgren tried to address this last season when the Flyers went out and signed Vezina finalist Ilya Bryzgalov. Last year Bryzgalov struggled and was inconsistent. However, this season Bryzgalov has been stellar and he truly has been hung out to dry by a terrible defense. Bryzgalov has played in all but two of the Flyers games. He has all of the team’s wins with 17. His GAA is around 2.85. He has a .900 Save Percentage. Those stats may not be top rate but they would be a lot better if the defense has not let them down.

Of course this week…Bryzgalov went through a ton of turmoil by a Story that was reported that he fell asleep during a team meeting. This is yet another gaffe in the roller coaster of the Philadelphia Media. Then, last week at the trade deadline the Flyers traded for young goalie Steve Mason. This raises questions about who will be in net next season for the Flyers.

The Flyers also lost Daniel Briere…one of their offensive stars and team leaders. Briere may come back this weekend, but this may be his last nine games in a Flyer’s uniform. The Flyers also lost gritty leader Maxime Talbot for the season. Talbot brought tenacity and experience as he won a Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins, actually scoring the Game Winning Goal of that championship. Talbot will be back next year and hopefully healthy.

Let us not forget that the Flyers core players have an average age of 23. This fact cannot be discounted. Courtier just turned 20. The Schenn brothers are 23 and 21 respectively. Claude Giroux is 23. Wayne Simmonds is 24. These five players can be considered the Flyers core players. The leaders have to be Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, Max Talbot, re-acquired Simon Gagne, and Mike Knuble.

If I am the ownership of the Flyers, I am making a few moves next year. As good as Holmgren has been…I am moving another direction. I would go after former Goalie Ron Hextall to captain the ship. I’m keeping Laviolette. Peter has received a lot of criticism this season, but he has shown a great work ethic and I am keeping him.

The Flyers should also let Briere go, unless he decides to sign for a bargain price. They should also buy out Bryzgalov’s contract not because he has been horrible, but to have more payroll flexibility. They would save millions of dollars and could go after another top scorer as well as a Top Tier Defenseman. They should look at the goalies that will be available and if they can sign Luongo do it…if not go with Steve Mason who is only 24.

I think this team is still one or two years away from a Championship. Even though Jeff Carter and Mike Richards won a Cup after leaving the team…I still believe this team is more talented than the team that went to the cup a few years ago. The XFactor…Chris Pronger. Pronger was a Born Leader and was the player that made this team go, go, go. Anyways, this has been a disappointing season but there is still a bright future for this very young team.

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FLYERS LOOK FOR CONSISTENCY

So far the Flyers are 2-5 in Seven Games. In those Seven Games they have scored 14 Goals which averages out to 2 Goals a game, not typical for a Flyers Team that usually is in the Top Scoring Teams. What makes this stat even more disturbing is that the Flyers scored 7 Of those goals in one game. So if you take away the 7 goals, the Flyers have scored a total of 7 goals in the six other games. Lets face it…Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek could all be in net and the Flyers would still not win under this formula.

In Contrast, Ilya Bryzgalov has been the one bright spot for the team. Remember back to last year, fans were calling for Bryzgalov to be cut or traded after a horrific first half. He came to the Flyers on a huge contract with Vezina Credentials. Well lets just say it took him most of the season to get in a groove. However, down the stretch he was stellar. He was playing in the Russian League during the Strike where he posted solid numbers. So Far this year, Bryzgalov has a 2.19 GAA and a .924 Save Percentage both in the Top 10 and he has faced the third most shots in the league. What a turnaround.

Of course, one major problem is the team’s penalty killing which is second to last in the league at a 65%Rate, horrible for a team that usually has a great penalty kill. Not only is the Penalty Kill piss poor, but the power play is terrible as well. I remember a few short years ago the Flyers always had one of the Top 5 Power Plays and Penalty Kills. Now, most of that had to do with Mike Richards being one of the best two way forwards in the league. But it also had to do with getting pucks on net.

The injury to Scott Hartnell puts a serious hole in the team’s lineup. Scott not only puts up a ton of points, but he has also become one of the teams top leaders being a role model for all of the Flyers youth. With no surprise, Claude Giroux has been the Flyers best player. However, Giroux cannot do this on his own. The Flyers must get back to Peter Laviollettes system. They need to buy into the defensive first style and then pounce on turnovers. Danny Briere is back and should give the team a jump start on offense. He had 10 shots on net last game.

Well, there are only 41 games left so the Flyers need to right this ship fast. They are not afforded the luxury of waiting awhile to turn it around. It must start tonight against the Washington Capitals. Cut down the turnovers, Score on the Power Play and stop the other teams special teams. Also, shoot the puck. Stop trying to be so fancy. Well, if my hunch is right, the Flyers will start to right the ship tonight!

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