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aziz
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been mostly not here for a while, because, really, i am having a tough time caring much about this season. it feels like a really extended preseason for 2013-14, with 48 exhibition games. i haven't watched as many as i usually do (which is to say, i haven't watched them all), but I've caught maybe half so far. much as i tried to resist it, i'm getting drawn in again, so...here's what i think of what we're seeing right now.

long and short, as i said somewhere else recently, this is a team in transition. the old guys are slowing down pretty quick, and the young guys are still working to get to that veteran level of consistent effectiveness. that being the case, and especially viewing this season as a warm up for next, the problem on the ice right now are only so concerning. begining next october, the kids will be 48 games more experienced, and a year older. shortcomings today really don't mean shortcomings tomorrow, even if the same 20 man lineup is carried over.

forwards

to reiterate, a lot of the kids aren't ready to be the backbone to the team yet. giroux, read, couturier, rinaldo, these guys are not ready to fill the shoes they are being asked to fill, yet. work in progress. which, obviously, means the point is to move towards that effectiveness. giroux is going to be a dominating player in the league, read will become a consistent 60 point guy, couturier is a primary defensive center in training, rinaldo is learning to pick his spots while not being an on-ice liability. the skill sets each of these players have is apparent, it is the execution night in and night out that is a problem...and that is, really, what you expect out of players under age 25. on the flip side, voracek is miles beyond where he was one year ago, simmonds continues to hone his game, and what ever people may say, b schenn impresses the heck out of me. he has a long way to go, but where he is right now should make us all very happy. he is already on a 62-point pace (in an 82 game season) while being an absolute wrecking ball out there. and, i should point out, a situationally appropriate wrecking ball who doesn't throw his entire game in the crapper to land a hit (like his brother does). next season will be his first actual complete 82 game schedule...and if his jumping off point is what we're seeing right now, he's gonna be awesome.

flip side are briere, hartnell, fedotenko, gagne. they just don't have it anymore. hartnell, maybe he is still finding his game after the injury...and what do we really expect out of fedotenko, but...they are what they are. they'll each be gone in a few years, and the most i want to see from them is structure as the kids from the above paragraph figure out how to step up.

all of this ignores talbot, and i can't explain why he is terrible right now. hopefully he'll shake it off, but he has been pretty much worthless. don't know what else to say about him, other than he isn't old enough to be slowing down, and he isn't young enough to excuse his inconsistency. so. whatever. given his contract, we can only hope he finds last year's form. sooner rather than later.

defense

look, it isn't that bad. problem is, the flyers have five 2-3 dmen, and not a single guy who can really lead a top pair. timonen is fading quick, coburn, meszaros and grossman are complimentary dmen who really need that strong partner to work with, schenn has talent but is WAY too in love with the big hit and abandons his post constantly to chase it. bringing me back to needing someone by his side to cover the hole he leaves. and none of the above are up to the challenge, for the reasons stated. beyond those guys, there are the couple kids who are complete question marks. gustafsson is really tenative, bourdon strikes me as an AHLer. leaving us with gervais and foster who are not really even worth talking about.

point is, one or two take-charge guys really are needed on this team. ideally two, kimo is still plenty up to the task of running a third pair, but the top two need something. don't need a weber or anything like that, but someone who can drive the car for the pairing in question.

goaltending

bryzgalov has to go. we all know this. yeah, there's nothing behind him, but whatever. seriously, it can't get too much worse. he has his strengths, unfortunately his weaknesses include such things as shots from in close and skating. O_o just doesn't get the job done. i don't have a solution, but...i'm a believer that no team that sets off to solve its goaltending problem succeeds at that goal. the goaltending winners are the ones 1) that wake up one day and realize their 7th/8th round pick is a badass (lundqvist/rinne), 2) that can't be real sure their stud will actually keep being one (quick/theordore/countless others), or 3) that find the throw-in/throw away they grabbed from someone else turned into a completely different goalie than they used to be (anderson/kiprusoff before he began to qualify for #2). which means the moral is you keep looking, keep trying things until one day hopefully #1 or #3 happens. maybe next season, maybe 20 years from now. trying to force the issue gets you burke, vanbiesbrouck, bryzgalov. if it happens, it almost always happens unpredictably. that's the nature of the position.

so, yeah. bottom line, the problems i'm seeing are ones that have a whole lot to do with growing pains, and a few specific holes in the roster. patchable holes, i think, though that #1 dman will be a problem. for the rest of the way, i'm trying my best to see this season as interesting and nothing more than that. a good long look at a bunch of very young players finding their way, hopefully by next october.

Aziz:

I think your assessment is spot on. The question I'd ask is whether this organization can draft/nurture D and G. This is the blind spot many of us here worry about.

Best,

Howie

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good post @aziz

strongly agree regarding B Schenn, he looks like he's going to be a handful. good ,quality-north american kid.

i do wonder where we're going to find the good defenceman though, and feel we'll have to part with a cherished young forward to bring at least one of the two needed guys to the team.

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The question I'd ask is whether this organization can draft/nurture D and G. This is the blind spot many of us here worry about.

well, like i said, i think goalies pop out of nowhere. i don't think they get nutured as such, they just appear one day as ready to roll. again, lundqvist and rinne were taken with picks in the 7th and 8th rounds. i don't know that any particular thing was done while they were in junior/minors to get them ready to be what they are, they just worked in the system and one day emerged. sadly, i think that's the only way to do it. the only trick to it is to give them the chance to emerge...which i agree is a question with this team's management.

as for D...really, i think the team has done a not terrible job. i think there are more than a few very competitive teams out there that would love to have the 2-5 slots filled like the flyers do. coburn, meszaros and grossman really are highend dmen...but like i said, they need someone one step above them to take the lead. same with ryan suter, without weber around. while he is still putting up points, he is an actual defensive problem these days, he needs a big brother to take care of the details.

what i don't think the team does very well is evaluate dmen outside of the marquee. there are a lot of very good dmen out there who aren't gushed over by TSN, and holmgrem seems to ignore them. he goes after shae weber, and when he doesn't get weber, he grabs garvias and foster while carle walks. like it's all the same after the best of the best leave the conversation.

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Great post, Aziz.

Can't really find much to disagree with...and trust me, I looked really hard.

I can agree also on most points but I think Grossman has earned his stripes. I ask again is the C just too heavy for Giroux?
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I'll repeat this here: Giroux is a PPG player even this year (he just went down to 24 points/25 games), and Vorachek is lighting it up on his wing. I'm not sure I understand the criticism of the first year captain...in a throw away year.

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@aziz

As always, a very accurate analysis.

Putting a goaltending nightmare we are in aside for a second, I agree this will be a growing pain and the work in progress. But here is my concern. I, personally, do not mind suffering mediocrity and growing pains this team will go through for several years. Knowing the Flyers, they will take a drastically different approach. You and I both know what will happen in the off-season. Homer will make tons of excuses and The Old Man will give his usual speech, telling us how "embarrassed" he is and how he doesn't know "what the rebuild is". And then they will start making irrational, head-scratching moves that will not only not help the team, but throw the team even further in their pursuit of the Cup.

The Flyers are their own enemies. They go about this in a totally wrong way, which is why I am convinced that as long as Snider is at the helm, this team is doomed.

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been mostly not here for a while, because, really, i am having a tough time caring much about this season. it feels like a really extended preseason for 2013-14, with 48 exhibition games. i haven't watched as many as i usually do (which is to say, i haven't watched them all), but I've caught maybe half so far. much as i tried to resist it, i'm getting drawn in again, so...here's what i think of what we're seeing right now.

long and short, as i said somewhere else recently, this is a team in transition. the old guys are slowing down pretty quick, and the young guys are still working to get to that veteran level of consistent effectiveness. that being the case, and especially viewing this season as a warm up for next, the problem on the ice right now are only so concerning. begining next october, the kids will be 48 games more experienced, and a year older. shortcomings today really don't mean shortcomings tomorrow, even if the same 20 man lineup is carried over.

forwards

to reiterate, a lot of the kids aren't ready to be the backbone to the team yet. giroux, read, couturier, rinaldo, these guys are not ready to fill the shoes they are being asked to fill, yet. work in progress. which, obviously, means the point is to move towards that effectiveness. giroux is going to be a dominating player in the league, read will become a consistent 60 point guy, couturier is a primary defensive center in training, rinaldo is learning to pick his spots while not being an on-ice liability. the skill sets each of these players have is apparent, it is the execution night in and night out that is a problem...and that is, really, what you expect out of players under age 25. on the flip side, voracek is miles beyond where he was one year ago, simmonds continues to hone his game, and what ever people may say, b schenn impresses the heck out of me. he has a long way to go, but where he is right now should make us all very happy. he is already on a 62-point pace (in an 82 game season) while being an absolute wrecking ball out there. and, i should point out, a situationally appropriate wrecking ball who doesn't throw his entire game in the crapper to land a hit (like his brother does). next season will be his first actual complete 82 game schedule...and if his jumping off point is what we're seeing right now, he's gonna be awesome.

flip side are briere, hartnell, fedotenko, gagne. they just don't have it anymore. hartnell, maybe he is still finding his game after the injury...and what do we really expect out of fedotenko, but...they are what they are. they'll each be gone in a few years, and the most i want to see from them is structure as the kids from the above paragraph figure out how to step up.

all of this ignores talbot, and i can't explain why he is terrible right now. hopefully he'll shake it off, but he has been pretty much worthless. don't know what else to say about him, other than he isn't old enough to be slowing down, and he isn't young enough to excuse his inconsistency. so. whatever. given his contract, we can only hope he finds last year's form. sooner rather than later.

defense

look, it isn't that bad. problem is, the flyers have five 2-3 dmen, and not a single guy who can really lead a top pair. timonen is fading quick, coburn, meszaros and grossman are complimentary dmen who really need that strong partner to work with, schenn has talent but is WAY too in love with the big hit and abandons his post constantly to chase it. bringing me back to needing someone by his side to cover the hole he leaves. and none of the above are up to the challenge, for the reasons stated. beyond those guys, there are the couple kids who are complete question marks. gustafsson is really tenative, bourdon strikes me as an AHLer. leaving us with gervais and foster who are not really even worth talking about.

point is, one or two take-charge guys really are needed on this team. ideally two, kimo is still plenty up to the task of running a third pair, but the top two need something. don't need a weber or anything like that, but someone who can drive the car for the pairing in question.

goaltending

bryzgalov has to go. we all know this. yeah, there's nothing behind him, but whatever. seriously, it can't get too much worse. he has his strengths, unfortunately his weaknesses include such things as shots from in close and skating. O_o just doesn't get the job done. i don't have a solution, but...i'm a believer that no team that sets off to solve its goaltending problem succeeds at that goal. the goaltending winners are the ones 1) that wake up one day and realize their 7th/8th round pick is a badass (lundqvist/rinne), 2) that can't be real sure their stud will actually keep being one (quick/theordore/countless others), or 3) that find the throw-in/throw away they grabbed from someone else turned into a completely different goalie than they used to be (anderson/kiprusoff before he began to qualify for #2). which means the moral is you keep looking, keep trying things until one day hopefully #1 or #3 happens. maybe next season, maybe 20 years from now. trying to force the issue gets you burke, vanbiesbrouck, bryzgalov. if it happens, it almost always happens unpredictably. that's the nature of the position.

so, yeah. bottom line, the problems i'm seeing are ones that have a whole lot to do with growing pains, and a few specific holes in the roster. patchable holes, i think, though that #1 dman will be a problem. for the rest of the way, i'm trying my best to see this season as interesting and nothing more than that. a good long look at a bunch of very young players finding their way, hopefully by next october.

another great post as usual. The calm of reason in a whirlwind of chaos.

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@Mad Dog " which is why I am convinced that as long as Snider is at the helm, this team is doomed."

Yes, you can try to dance around it, but the Elephant in the room is Mr.Snider and his penchant for sticking his nose into the active roster. He's to stubborn to step down due to old age, so we are effictively strapped to this guy untill he passes. Sad to say, but that's the truth as far as I see it. His motives and heart may be in the right place, but his meddling inevitably hurts.

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the problems i'm seeing are ones that have a whole lot to do with growing pains, and a few specific holes in the roster. patchable holes, i think, though that #1 dman will be a problem.

Assuming the first part of your sentence is correct - and I believe it is - the obvious question then becomes, how much do we give up to land that "#1 D-man?"

I'd propose a different solution to the "few specific holes." It starts with keeping our current roster intact, minus the guys who'll be retiring/moving on after their contract is up (Kimmo, Briere, Hartnell, Gagne, Rusty) and not trading for (or offer-sheeting or FA-signing) a #1 D-man.

I figure Coburn and Mez can anchor our defense; one of them with Grossmann or Schenn/Gus (patience is needed here) can go against the big guns on the opposition. We don't really need a "#1" guy because our "#2" guys are both capable of carrying the load. I would rather see us improve our 5/6/depth D-men.

I agree with your assessment of the team but I think "growing pains" (and the goaltending situation) explains more than you seem to think it does. IMO the trouble with the Flyers right now isn't so much certain players or particular positions (except goaltending where we are woefully inadequate) it's immature (inexperienced) leadership. Two examples, 1) the haphazard line changes, constantly, every game it seems we're victimized by a bad change and, 2) face offs. Giroux wins a bunch on his own, practically, the force of his will. After him it drops off to...nobody. Nobody else wins face offs.

You may ask, are "bad line changes" and "losing FOs" are leadership questions? I think so. Good leadership implies good followers, which ultimately becomes a team with character who sacrifices for each other, plays to win each shift, doesn't "go to sleep" after going up 4-1, etc. There are more obvious examples - going 0-10 when trailing after 1 for instance is a pretty big red flag that something isn't clicking in the leadership department.

So the Flyers have a lot of young players in key positions + veteran players who aren't contributing as expected. Trading Couturier or Schenn, Read or McGinn...to land a Beauchiman or a Hedman - or Bouwmeester (Homer's first choice I'm sure!) doesn't make much sense to me right now. After Kimmo and Briere are gone, maybe Hartnell too...anyway in 2 years...let's reevaluate. But I wouldn't make any moves based on "we need a #1 D-man." Keep most of the current roster together long enough and they will form the kind of bond that has everyone playing for each other night after night.

Anyway thanks for your "thoughts" - helping me clarify my own!

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A couple of things from the buffalo game, winning face offs wow, what a concept, makes the game easier to not chase the puck after every stoppage.

Read and Metzaros were really missed.

This team beats the teams it should, they are not being out competed by teams with less talent, they are handling those teams, it's the top tier teams they have trouble putting together a full mature effort against the big bads, rags, and chodes in Pgh. which leads me to believe Laviolette has not lost the room and the leadership group isn't as impotent as maybe we think. There is a lack of attention to detail that does devil this team, I think that is a lack of maturity that comes with relying on 22 year olds in important , but not life critical situations.

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A couple of things from the buffalo game, winning face offs wow, what a concept, makes the game easier to not chase the puck after every stoppage.

Read and Metzaros were really missed.

This team beats the teams it should, they are not being out competed by teams with less talent, they are handling those teams, it's the top tier teams they have trouble putting together a full mature effort against the big bads, rags, and chodes in Pgh. which leads me to believe Laviolette has not lost the room and the leadership group isn't as impotent as maybe we think. There is a lack of attention to detail that does devil this team, I think that is a lack of maturity that comes with relying on 22 year olds in important , but not life critical situations.

Pretty much. The sky is actually not falling.

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I figure Coburn and Mez can anchor our defense; one of them with Grossmann or Schenn/Gus (patience is needed here) can go against the big guns on the opposition. We don't really need a "#1" guy because our "#2" guys are both capable of carrying the load. I would rather see us improve our 5/6/depth D-men.

I don't have much of a disagreement with your entire post minus THIS part. Everybody is entitled to their opinions, of course, but you are grossly overselling the value of these two players. Coburin and Meszaros are serviceable players, but they can't anchor anything. They are 2nd pair defensemen. Mesz was in the league for 8 years. He was an OK defenseman for Ottawa, where he wasn't expected to be the "anchor". He wasn't terrible there; don't get me wrong. But he wasn't anything special either. And I know this is not what you are trying to imply - I am just pointing out. Then he took a drastic turn to the worse with Tampa. Not sure what happened there. Maybe he fell out of favor, maybe it was a bad chemistry, who really knows... He god his career somewhat on track when he came here, but now I am not even how to evaluate him since we have seen him mainly in street clothes for what feels like forever. I think even in the best-case scenario, he is a decent 34 points in a full season guy, who certainly does more good things on the ice than bad things, but anchor? I just don't see it.

Coburn is an enigmatic player to me, still. Getting him for Zhitnik was easily the best trade Holmgren was able to pull off. His best season - both in terms of productivity and performance - was when he was paired with Timonen in the 2007 season. What he has shown to me is that he will succeed when paired with someone who takes control. In other words, on a pairing he plays, he needs to be the follower, not the leader.

What this comes down to me is the Flyers do have plenty of holes. Some of these holes are a product of misjudgment and just unforgivable mistakes, while the others are just bad fortune (e.g., Pronger). But for one reason or the other, they are at the point they can't patch them all up quickly enough to put themselves in a position to do something fantastic next year. So I for one would be actually OK with them not doing anything drastic, focus their energy on shedding all the albatross salaries they can (I know they can't get rid of them all), and load up on draft picks to try rebuild the right way, once for all.

Problem is they won't do it. They will overreact again, trade the existing bad contracts for new ones, equally bad, fail to address the goaltending issue (again), thus going through the same fill-wash-spin-dry cycle, which will produce some *visible* temporary success, but won't bring them the Cup. It's sad, but it's almost time to accept the reality of the inability.

Edited by Mad Dog
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Hartnell will indeed be moving along "in a few years" if we consider 2019 to be "a few years" from now.

Also, too, the inevitable No Movement Clause.

The "transition" theme is apt and important and one which the organization* has consistently rejected as a theory.

What did the Flyers wind up with after their last foray into "a lost season"? Briere, Hartnell and Timonen.

Patience and development is what this team needs.

And a #1 D and a starting goaltender.

That said, you have to give to get, and I do think that some younger pieces will need to be exchanged to fill gaps.

* term used loosely

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Interesting that the discussion so far in this thread has been limited to players and nothing about coaching.

Not much I disagree with about the players. The D is weak with nothing in the pipeline. Having said that, I still think Gus is going to be a Timonen-type player in the long-term. Right now he is fighting the puck and being very tentative - nervous basically. If Bourdon had not gotten a nasty concussion people would still be raving about him. He fell in his draft year because of conditioning issues and attitude, but he turned the corner on those things and was developing nicely until the concussion.

We have a great group of young core forwards that Holmgren has to keep together. Simply has to.

So here's the real question: why do we lack any chemistry? Why do we suck at almost all the fundamentals on any given night? Why is our positional play not fit for PeeWee on many nights? etc etc

Edited by Podein25
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I thought Bourdon was a dumb player before the concussion. Maybe a third pair on a week team (like the Flyers, as a matter of fact)

I don't have much of an answer for your chemistry/fundamentals question, @Podein25 other than the old "they're young and attention to detail isn't there yet" routine.

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I thought Bourdon was a dumb player before the concussion.

Yeah, but you think everyone is dumb. I'm not so sure. He's more of an offensive D-man, good offensive instincts. He was an all-star in the Q and put up 60 pts from the blueline. That kind of offense does often come at some expense.

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