If yesterday’s Flyers game wasn’t a sign that it’s time for a major change then I don’t know what is. In the 23 years that I’ve been able to watch and understand hockey I’ve probably missed anywhere from 10-15 Flyers’ games in that span. Yesterday’s snooze-fest was probably the worst Flyers game I’ve ever witnessed. Take away the 6-1 score even if it were 2-1 it would still be the worst effort.
The Flyers came out flat in the first being outshot 5-1 in the first 10 min. The Flyers finally showed some effort for the remaining 10 min but that would be the only time we’d see the Flyers actually put forth any attempt to play hockey. The Flyers spent majority of the game in their own zone. I’ll be honest, when the first whistle blew for a commercial in the 3rd with 13:46 remaining, I left. The Flyers spent over 5min of that first 7 min in their own zone. They were down 4-0 at the time. Who would want to stay and watch that? If the Flyers don’t have any interest in playing why should I have any interest in watching? But I was already annoyed prior to the game even starting and here is why.
I was excited to find out that Gus was finally going to be in the line-up. My excitement came crashing down when I was informed that Berube has scratched Meszaros instead of Grossman, Schenn or Coburn. Mez who’s had 11 pts in his past 10 games, one of the few defenseman with a plus in the +/- column was being benched. Then to find out that Steve Downie was being benched in favor of Jay Rosehill I was completely baffled. The Flyers have lost 3 straight, and were 1-3-2 in the last five. In a tight Eastern Conference where only 3pts separate teams 6th through 13th, the Flyers need to add wins like humans need oxygen. Scratching your most recent best defenseman and playing a forward who brings no offensive or defensive game to the line-up baffles me. Not to mention after losing 3 in a row, Berube didn’t change his defensive pairings. Obviously the pairings aren’t working so why keep them together?
The defense on this team for the last 3 years, have been average at best. This year you can’t think this team is a cup winning team. This defense couldn’t compete with a good team let alone an elite team. I’ll break down the defense for you:
NAME GP G A PTS +/-
Mark Streit 53 6 18 24 -4
Kimmo Timonen 53 2 16 18 +4
Andrej Meszaros 32 4 11 15 1
Braydon Coburn 53 4 6 10 -6
Nicklas Grossmann 52 0 10 10 -11
Erik Gustafsson 21 2 5 7 4
Luke Schenn 50 3 3 6 -8
Hal Gill 4 0 0 0 -2
Does this looks like the defense of an elite team? The Flyers best defenseman is 37 years old! Coburn, Streit, Grossman, Schenn are a combined minus 29. I normally don’t count the +/- on forwards, but you have to on defenseman. The Flyers went years with a subpar goalie until they found Steve Mason who could arguably be the main reason the Flyers are even in the playoff hunt at all. Now the Flyers’ main concern is defense.
Since the absence of Chris Pronger, their defense hasn’t been the same. I’m not saying that because Pronger did everything, but his locker-room leadership and guidance is obviously missed. There is no direction on the defense. Kimmo is a leader, but he can only do so much. No one is holding themselves accountable and by not scratching Schenn, Grossman and even Coburn, Berube isn’t either.
People have argued with me about scratching Coburn. Well, he leads the entire team in turnovers with 33. Coburn tied Luke Schenn for most turnovers last season with 31. Coburn led the defenseman in turnovers with 43 in 11/12 season. What about his production? This year he has 4 Goals 6 assists and is a minus 6. Last year he had 1 goal, 4 assists and was a minus 10. Still think he’s a # 2 defenseman? Now those are two seasons without Chris Pronger. What about the two and quarter seasons he played with Pronger? 11/12 he had 4 goals, 20 assist and was plus 10. In 10/11 he has 2 goals, 14 assist and was a plus 15. The first season the Flyers had Pronger Coburn had 19 pts but finished with a minus 6 however, Pronger was mostly paired with Matt Carle that season, not Coburn. Long story short, Coburn needs another great defenseman to make him look good and if Kimmo isn’t doing that, what does that tell you?
I won’t give all the blame to Coburn. Luke Schenn has been disastrous. He has a life time minus of 28 and only 92 pts in 407 NHL games. Apparently that was supposed to be even with the talent of JVR? Schenn is the definition of “a 1st round bust.” (5th overall) He moves as is he has cement in his skates, his coverage is awful and he has no offensive upswing. He can hit, but can’t every hockey player? I think the Flyers only traded for him so he could play with his brother which is a HORRIBLE REASON to trade of a player. If I could, I’d package him in any way I could.
Grossman: I liked him because he was a solid 4/5-6th defenseman. I don’t know where his mind has been this year, but it hasn’t been on how to play defense. He has some knee problems, which isn’t good for a 29 year old defenseman but I don’t think that has any effect on his play. Personally, I think this one is on coaching because he hasn’t been scratched or told what to fix. He’s making the same mistakes game in and game out and hasn’t been held accountable.
The Flyers need to overhaul the team. If you look at the other teams in the NHL teams like, Ducks, Sharks, Kings, Pens, Bruins, Blackhawks, Tampa and recently the Avalanche, these are the Elite teams of the NHL and they’re going to be good for years to come. The Flyers will never beat any of these teams with their current roster. The Rangers have always been good, Columbus is a team that’s getting better, Washington has the potential to be a great team, and Toronto is on the doorstep of being a good team for many years. If you look at all these teams, they are what the Flyers are not.
It’s sad to see because the Flyers were among this group just a few years ago. Trading Carter, (Although I love that trade) Richards, Bob, JVR and losing Pronger to a career ending injury, Jarg to FA who has gas in the tank and is effective, this team has been in a downward spiral.
What I wouldn’t have done: Traded Richards, (or made him captain) Traded Bob, Traded JVR or lose Jagr.
What the Flyers need to do: Let Kimmo retire, trade Coburn, trade Luke and Braydon Schenn as a package, trade Hartnell, find a true #1 defenseman, bring back Gagne as a 3rd line winger for 1million, resign Mez to a 1yr 2mi or under contract, never play Rosehill again, bring up Lauridsen, Akeson and McGinn. Look for competing next year. Let’s face it, I want the Flyers to win the cup and even if they manage to squeeze into the Playoffs, they’re not going to go far with this roster.
Next year’s roster:
Lecavalier-Laughton-Akeson/McGinn/Gagne (if only)
Defense-Figure this out based on who played well with one another and their defensive production during training camp/preseason:
Streit, Gus,Lauridsen, Morin and trade for or sign a #1 defenseman resign Mez for cheap and short-term if possible. When healthy he can be very valuable.
Here are a few names to throw in the hat for upcoming UFA:
Joni Pitkanen, Brooks Orpik, Dan Girardi, Matt Niskanen.
Possible trade routes for an RFA: Justin Shultz, PK Subban (although I fully expect MTL to resign him), Jamie McBain, Brenden Dillon (decent 5/6th).
Possible Trade Routes: Byfuglien, Wisniewski, Yandle, Ehrhoff, Franson.
There are several possibilities and the Flyers need to explore them. Hopefully the team will let Homer go out into the sunset and not renew his GM contract. Let a fresh GM take over. (Hextall) If something isn’t done soon, we’re looking at a subpar team with aging players losing trade value and young talent going to waste. Let’s open up a new era now and build an elite team. Let’s go Flyers.
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