The Flyers have six days between games after suffering a loss to the Penguins on Thursday night. Now it being the weekend, the Flyers have had a couple of days to skate hard, bond and work on their weaknesses. One weakness I’m constantly seeing is the horrible play of Defenseman Braydon Coburn and the rest of the defense.
Tuesday’s Game against the Vancouver Canucks, a game where the Flyers let the lead slip away, was a game that saw a severe break down in the Defense. Braydon Coburn, who’s been notorious for not covering his zone or covering his man, fell victim of that again on the second Canucks goal.
To Coburn’s credit, (and I don’t really give him any) the entire Flyers line completely fell apart on this play. It’s not quite clear if the Flyers are playing zone coverage or man-to-man. In this picture above, The Flyers have Nick Grossman covering the side of the net. Claude Giroux has dropped deep in the zone to cover the same man. Coburn instead, covers his zone to where no players are located. Instead a wide open player in front of the net is over behind Grossman and receives a pass from the man behind the net. (Sedin) The wide open player scored the tying goal. Now even if Coburn is covering his zone, he should know, he has to skate over to cover an open man and cover him. In this still shot it appear he’s thinking about it, but just doesn’t do it. (If you saw the video, he’s coasting.) You also have all three Flyer forwards deep into the circles. Who are they covering? There’s an open man in the middle and there’re two open defenseman up on top. This falls on coaching. The coaches are either having them play the wrong coverage, or they’re not working with them in the practices. Everybody needs work. It’s up to the Coach to identify the issue and work on it. Judging by the last 4 years of Braydon Coburn, someone has been letting that slip away or the guy just doesn’t get it and he never will.
Thursday night, I saw multiple breakdowns in the defensive zone. Most of them occurred in the 2nd period and led to a goal. Here is a picture of the 2nd Penguins’ goal.
Prior to this still shot, the Flyers failed on three occasions to clear the zone. Every clearing attempt became a turnover. The final turn over led to this. If you look, you can see the wide open man taking the rebound and the position of the Flyer who should be covering him. His back is turned and he’s not covering anyone, as there are no Penguins in front of him. What makes matters worse is that’s not even a defenseman. That is Brayden Schenn.
Things didn’t get better. The Flyers who played a pretty dominate period in the third, saw their hopes of tying and perhaps coming back slip away at the fault of Braydon Coburn, again.
Here we can see Coburn being double covered by Crosby and Kuniz. Coburn has two outlets. Wayne Simmonds is off to the top corner and Luke Schenn is behind Coburn. Instead Coburn throws the puck in front on his own net. Yes Giroux is there and the Still Shot doesn’t show it, but that pass was went through his legs. (It looks like Giroux is playing the puck, but that is not what is happening.) It was also a blind pass from Coburn and Giroux was not anticipating that play as it was not the correct play. You never throw the puck in front of your own net when the opposing team is deep in the zone attacking, especially when you have two open guys on the boards. You can tell by Giroux’s body position that he’s expecting the play to transition into a rush. The blind pass is intercepted by a Penguin who fires it towards the net and finds its way in off a deflection from a wide open Crosby. Not only did Coburn throw a blind pass across his own net to a wide open Penguin, he failed to cover the guy who was covering him and it all led to a goal.
The Flyers seem to fail the fundamentals of hockey in every aspect. The defensive break downs, the lack of scoring chances, the failure to fore-check on the “Dump and Chase” are simple things the Flyers can’t execute. The question is if the Flyers can’t do any of this, whose fault is this? Is it coaching or is it the players? The Flyers brass thought it was the coaching when the Flyers were 0-3 and made some coaching changes. But here we are now 1-7 (NHL Worst) and the same issues are still plaguing the Flyers. Do the Flyers have the right players? Are they incapable of playing hockey with this system, this team, this organization?
The stats are just ugly. How ugly you ask? Well there are two players are in the plus for the +/- column. Those players are Max Talbot and Chris Newbury. (YIKES) With a Zero the Flyers have three players, McGinn, Lecavalier and Meszaros who has been a healthy scratch for 3 games. The rest, (16) are in the minus. Simmonds is the worst for forwards with a -7 and Coburn is a worse for the Defenseman with a -5.
Your Points leader is Brayden Schenn with five (2G, 3A) through eight games. 14 Flyers have yet to register a goal, and the goal scoring leader has been a call-up and has only played in three games. Things look that bad right now.
However there is the good. How? How could there be any good? That answer is Steve Mason. Mason has been the Flyers best player. His record of 1-5 doesn’t show it, but if you’ve watched the games, he’s been their backbone. He’s kept them in games, has made some 2nd and 3rd incredible saves and looks comfortable in net. He has a GAA 2.37 and Save % of .923. His current Save % is ranked higher than last year’s Stanley Cup Winner Cory Crawford, former Cup winner Antti Niemi, last years’ Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky, Mike Smith, James Reimer, Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Quick, Roberto Luongo, Pekka Rinne, Marty Brodeur and yes the king, Henrik Lundqvist. All of these goaltenders have been brought up in the past and compared to what the Flyers needed and didn’t have in a goaltender. Well they currently have a goalie with a higher Save % than all of the notable names. His GAA is also ranked higher than Luongo, Quick, Rinne, Howard, Bobrosvky, Miller, Smith, and Lundqvist. That should give something for the fans to be happy about.
The Flyers are 1-7 and have a goalie outplaying some of the best names in the NHL. I know, it’s only eight games into the season, but what do the fans have to be happy about right now? You have to take the good with the bad and the Flyers are bad, very bad.
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