March 1, 2012

Takeaways From The Flyers Venture Into The Northwest

The Flyers wrapped up their Canadian/West Coast road trip, and after watching the games, there are a few bits of knowledge to take away from them.

To begin, I'd have to say the offense was for the most part, wildly inconsistent. They seemed to lack the initiative to take the early lead, giving up the first goal in each and every one of the four contests. For whatever reason, it seems like they enjoy coming back from a goal down, and in two of the games they managed to stay complacent, allowing the Sharks and Oilers to shut them out completely. For a club known as the highest scoring team in the NHL, this is simply unacceptable.

I spoke about moving Danny Briere before, and now he has found himself landing on the fourth line. Is that truly where you want to spend 7 million dollars in the middle? I don't dislike Danny, hardly the case, but honestly, this guy should've gone at the deadline to collect more youth for the movement going on in Philly. The Flyers will have yet another chance of course to clear cap space in the offseason, but so will everyone else, and his value wont be nearly as high considering his worth climbs during the playoffs. Philadelphia could've made a bold move to snatch up a young winger and have them gel with Schenn and Couturier these final 20 games in preparation for the next season when chemistry will be more important than ever.

I've noticed along with any other fan who follows hockey the intense Bryzgalov bashing in Philadelphia, but I also endured this same outlandish attitude as whole over Scott Hartnell's value to the organization. For the last three seasons while preaching his knack for getting dirty goals, for actually showing up in the SC Finals, people around me endlessly moped and raged about trading him, getting him out of town. Now? He made his first All Star Game appearance, quite possibly stole the show in Ottawa, and when seeing games at the Well Fargo Center, his jersey is virtually on every fourth or so fans back. Goaltenders take a little more time to cohesively fit into a team's defense, so we may not see the best of Bryz until year three, but his value is there, and in the two shutouts, he stood on his head just to keep the game from getting more out of hand than it already had.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway though, is the lack of quality shots they are taking and the fact that one of the best road teams failed to capture more points during this stretch, the Sharks are playing like shells of their former selves and the Oilers are definitely not known as one of the better defensive units in the league. They eeked out wins over two teams they should've handled with more authority, and it stems mostly from the fact that they have somehow deviated away from typical Philly style of play, no one is crowding or clogging the lane in front of opposing teams goalies as often as they should, and far too many shots from low percentage areas are being taken. Coburn's pinball goal in Calgary was a fluke, and has it not occurred, we'd be discussing how the Flyers dropped three of four out west. The Flyers can't afford to have Scott Hartnell leading the charge when his role is more defined being posted up right in front of goalies, waiting on the rebound. I'll be attending tomorrow's game against the Isles, and I seriously fear more of the now routine don't-do-much-in-the-first-two-periods-then-shoot-25-times-in-the-third offense. The Flyers need to get back to basics, grind it out a little more early on, and take more high percentage shots, or Flyers fans can expect more of the same type of results we have witnessed in the last week or so. 

- Clayton Taylor

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