Orange & Black Breakdown
by Marc Siciliano on 10/08/11 at 05:12 PM ET
Yes, the puck officially dropped the other day; but with the stunning defeat of the Phillies, it’s now officially hockey season in Philadelphia.
I’m talking a little baseball, a lot of hockey and Game 2 vs the New Jersey Devils (7 ET – MSG, CSN Philly) after the jump
Sorry Roy, but Doctober has come to an early end.
The Phillies performed admirably throughout the regular season. Within such a massive body of work, it could be said that they were the best team in baseball.
Unfortunately for many teams, the playoffs and regular season are two separate entities. Success in either facet deserves praise, but only one is truly worthy of the type of legacy that a championship can bring. Even after six months of dominance, this season will ultimately be looked at as a disappointment.
I find this both fascinating and relevant because some of the Flyers are close with some of the Phillies, and there is a lesson to be learned that may have been lost on the Flyers last year with the Phillies early exit then as well.
It really is all about focus down the stretch, and giving it every ounce of energy you have on each given night. There is no room for error and there is no room for smugness, lest you want your season to end early. You need to rely on your teammates, knowing that they are as equally committed as you are to the common goal. You can’t get too caught up in the moment, or else you might forget how you got there in the first place.
The Phillies bats fell silent in the worst of times. All season, they set out to prove this would not be the case, and did so rather well (especially after acquiring Pence). Then the playoffs approached, and ugly patterns began to form as quickly as the majority of their at-bats. The result was a season-deciding game in which not a single run was scored by the team, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat. Once again, a Philadelphia team will be riding its lofty expectations all the way into the locker room.
While this Flyers team seems to be very different from its predecessors, they would be wise to learn from the Phillies and not fall back into the patterns that have failed them in the past. They need to make sure the effort is consistent throughout the lineup and expected every night, so that when the playoffs roll around guys don’t fall into patterns of laziness that can be ‘explained’ by previous performances. There should be no excuse, because that isn’t what will be remembered; only the disappointment will.
Maybe this is asking a bit much of this team so soon, but they are built to win and if they aren’t the personnel issues will be quickly corrected by the front office. It’s unfortunate that people forget how lucky you have to get in order to win it all, but if you give it a maximum effort and come up short no one will hate you for it.
It’s different for baseball since the hitting and pitching are so individualized, but the team aspect of the sport of hockey only makes hard work and effort more worthwhile and important to the outcome. If a guy isn’t necessarily scoring, he needs to make sure he’s playing sharp defense. If a teammate is getting roughed up, get in the other guys face and let him know it won’t fly. If you truly sustain an effort, then you cannot truly lose.
MATCHUP: Philadelphia Flyers (1-0-0) @ New Jersey Devils (0-0-0)
SERIES EDGE: The Flyers look to extend their stranglehold on the Atlantic Division (chuckle) against a familiar foe this evening. Even with the Devils awful season last year, the Flyers still only managed to win half of the games between the two teams. The Devils used to be an intimidating sight on the schedule, but the Flyers have had their number lately, going 12-4-1 in the last 17 games (including playoffs) vs the Devils. It’s been tough sledding for the Devils vs the Flyers in recent years.
What to expect from the DEVILS: With the worst record in the league at the midway point of last season, you can bet the Devils number one priority this season will be to prevent a similar start. New Captain Zach Parise will be looking to make his mark on the franchise and is also playing in a contract year, so a quick start from him and a return to form from Brodeur could set the tone for the Devils early this season. Last seasons laugh-fest needs to be quickly forgotten, because today begins a new season for the Devils. I consider them dangerous until proven otherwise.
What to expect from the FLYERS: I’ve decided to chalk up the slow start the Flyers had against Boston to the long ceremony. After opening the first with some questionable play and heavy legs, the Flyers began to hit their stride and ended the period up leading the defending cup champs 2-1 after two goals in the last minute of play. Jagr and Giroux continued to show some great chemistry and the young guys like Read and Couturier were really able to assert themselves on the defensive side of the puck.
The defense got off to a really good start last game as well. Pronger seemed to be the worst defenseman on the ice, but since he is coming off an injury that is to be expected - he should find his legs in time. Timonen’s great start definitely bodes well for the defense and Lilja was also impressive, joining the rush early and playing a solid game otherwise. With Bryzgalov making all the necessary stops (and then some), the team showed it could rely on its defense to hold onto a lead going forward when necessary.
Tonight we’ll get a chance to see Lavi’s feedback in action after his game one trial run. If he liked what he saw, I’d imagine we’d see more of it tonight. I expect the young guys to remain on the PK, and also expect to see them in more crucial situations down the stretch as Lavi tries to see what they can handle. Lastly, I’ll be looking for an improvement in the face-off circle. The Flyers were 16 of 48 on face-offs vs Boston, and that needs to improve if they hope to avoid issues in their own zone in future games.
Flyers Line-up (subject to change prior to game):
JVR – Giroux – Jagr
Voracek – Briere – Simmonds
Hartnell – Couturier – Read
Rinaldo – Talbot – Nodl
Pronger – Carle
Timonen – Meszaros
Lilja – Coburn
Scratches: Walker, Shelley (Suspended)
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
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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!
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Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!