Orange & Black Breakdown
by Marc Siciliano on 02/20/12 at 01:29 AM ET
The Flyers Wives Carnival must have been pretty awkward for some of the players today.
Sure, most of the fans are going to bubbly on the surface, happy to be face to face with some of their idols. Even those that would claim to be openly upset were probably more than happy to let it slide for the day. But you can also bet that some of them let the Flyers know that they aren’t happy with their play as of late, and rightfully so given the effort. I’m sure this wasn’t done in a disrespectful fashion or with great frequency – after all, Philly is known for it’s overall quaintness; but you just KNOW it was on the minds of some of the players and fans.
Things haven’t been so smooth for Timonen and the Flyers lately
The thing is, they’ve been walking around in a bit of a fog as of late - a fog of inconsistency. The offense has been sporadic at best, disappearing for games at a time and absent from some of the bigger names at the most crucial times. This has been far from the Flyers true problems though; that lies in the defensive zone. The forwards haven’t been much help with lazy defensive zone coverage, but the defense has been unacceptable, especially around the net. With their heads in the clouds the defense leaves the goalies out to dry for extended stretches on a nightly basis, a sure recipe for failure given the recent propensity for the goalies to not make even the most routine of saves.
Yet through it all, the Flyers have been able to maintain an elite status in the east. On any given night, they have shown they can hang with some of the best teams in the league. This is no fluke.
The building is pining for meaningful playoff hockey
The forwards have to stop looking towards one another to perform and start looking at themselves. It’s understandable for the rookies to be streaky, but now is the time to dig down and let talent prevail over age. This lineup is full of alpha males who have made careers on dominating the game at every level of play. They need to harness that confidence that got them to this level and brought about these high expectations, because game-breaking young talent is something these flyers have in spades, especially on the offensive side of the puck.
Its time to dig deep much like JVR did last year in the playoffs and challenge oneself to be the hero. Hard work is contagious, and doing so will bring about success for both the player and his line mates. Simmonds and Schenn have been the perfect examples of this with their stellar play as of late.
Simmonds has been dominant for the Flyers, outperforming the jettisoned Mike Richards
The defense needs to take a step back and re-evaluate themselves as a new unit as opposed to the one that started the season. It would be difficult for any group to overcome the loss of a guy like Chris Pronger, but even without him the additions of Kubina and Grossman make them a different type of daunting. They’re suddenly a pretty big group, and if the tenured Flyers can get their act together and get back to fundamental defensive coverage without the frequent brain farts of late they should hold their own against some of the top teams in the league. It is yet to be seen how they will all come together, but there is much reason for optimism from the back end in Philadelphia.
Then of course, there is the issue of goaltending. Bryzgalov did himself no favors with his performance versus Pittsburgh, but it still needs to be noted how well he was playing before this turn for the worst. This western road trip should alleviate some of the pressure on the goaltenders if they can start making the SIMPLE SAVES they’ve been making to get to this level in the first place.
Bryz has done himself no favors by not making routine saves
The bias towards bob is quite incredible given how much worse he has been than Bryz lately (23 goals against in his last 6 compared to 10 for Bryz in that same timespan), so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lavy ride Bryz to try and get him on a tear before coming back home. In a best-case scenario, he can come back to Philly with some momentum. Fans are quick to forgive, but he needs to start by giving them SOMETHING to believe in and making that routine save.
If something doesn’t give soon, one is left wondering when it will be time to look into replacing goalie coach Jeff Reese. I am by no means placing the blame on him, but a change of attitude needs to happen for this duo to turn it around. I can’t remember the last time a goalie has looked comfortable in the Flyers net.
With the way this team is formed, they are capable of flipping the dreaded switch and making a run at any moment. A Stanley Cup is achieved through perfect timing and incredible luck; the Flyers most recent Cup Finals experience versus Chicago is proof of that. The talent in that room is capable of bringing a parade down Broad Street, they just need to find that belief within themselves.
Hartsy gets it. The result for him? A career year. And nothing but cheers
Hopefully seeing the fans up close and personal today at the carnival served as a great reminder of what they truly play for. It only takes each player finding that personal motivation within themselves to change their luck and turn their fortunes around. Stepping out of that fog and correcting the simple mistakes will go a long way in altering the lack of confidence as well as the lack of results. It just has to start with someone.
Lets Go Flyers!
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About Orange & Black Breakdown
The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these
time-wasting habits passions with my love for writing to provide you with complete coverage of the Flyers from both my head and around the web, 24/7.
This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!
I’m always interested in interacting with readers, so find me on twitter (@marcs797) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s talk hockey.
Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!