Well, that sure sucked. Simon Gagne made his return, the fans cheered, and the Flyers lost 3-2. That last part should not have been in the script. Unfortunately, a few early problems seem like they might become issues for the short term future of this team.
Steve Stamkos and Nikolay Zherdev traded goals in the first. Dominic Moore added one for the Bolts in the 2nd, Pavel Kubina extended the lead to 3-1 early in the third. Danny Briere got us back within 1, but that’s as close as we got.
First, the good. Zherdev’s goal was a combination of two good plays. First, JVR ripped a nice pass directly into the crease, putting the puck in a location where only Zherdev could make a play. Meanwhile, Zherdev drove the net, got a step on the defense, shielded them off with his body, and kept his stick on the ice, allowing him to direct the puck into the net. Those are the skills of a talented scorer, something I hope we get to see a lot more of. I expect him to light the lamp a lot for us this season, and if he struggles, things will be a lot harder for this team. Overall, the Flyers did a good job creating pressure during most of the game. They gave Tampa hell in the offensive zone, not letting them get many easy breakouts. They would have owned the shot advantage if they hadn’t spent so much time on the penalty box. Most of the time, we carried the play, and controlled the pace. The only thing you can ask for, is to actually score a bit. Which leads us to….
The bad: We’re not scoring, we’re not getting good chances, and we’re getting too cute with the puck. On one hand yes, we’re getting shots, but how many of them are quality? How many do opposing goalies get a read on? We’re not crashing the crease hard enough, not making life difficult enough, just not playing with a killer instinct. Guys are settling for outside shots, the type that normally go in if a goalie screws up, or there’s a good screen in front. Even the man advantage looks shitty. 1 for 17 on the season, pathetic. One shot while we were up 2 men, horrible. How do you let that happen? On defense, we’re not playing up to our potential. Player are still out of position, letting guys pounce on rebounds a bit much. The second goal was the result of not boxing a guy out of the middle. Richards had another shorthanded breakaway that he didn’t score on.
Boucher is kind of hard to get a read on. He made a ton of great saves, controlled the puck well, and kept the Flyersin the game. Andstill, after turning aside some hard shots, he let’s in a pair of soft goals. The second goal was a result of poor rebound control. The third goal squeaked through his pads from the point, kind of a slow dribbler that he saw and should have stopped. Both losses this season came with him in net. I’m not saying that he’s the reason we’re losing, but the guys just aren’t giving him enough support.
The season is young, we’re first in the division, we’ve got proven offensive stars that should be able to fix these mistakes. It does look like we need a little shuffling though. Carcillo with Richards and Carter is a waste of space, he doesn’t belong on that line. Carter is making a strong case to move back to center. He’s done a good job stealing pucks from behind, Datsyuk style, and looks dangerous in the offensive zone. Lavy has to find a way to get him a few more touches. We didn’t revamp our roster, but it still looks like the team needs to gel a bit. It’s weird because there are stretches in every game where we look incredible, the passing is crisp, the pressure is high, and the puck just isn’t finding the net. I hope we find our touch sooner rather than later, especially with the struggling Penguins coming to town tomorrow night.
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