Did TB Find the Anti-Flyers Blueprint?

What a game right? Sure, the Flyers had their chances, but they still didn’t look right. As a result, we’re now 0 for 3 against the Lightning this season. Should we panic? Should we not want to face them in the playoffs? What exactly are they doing so damn well against us?

Before we go nuts worrying about what the future holds, let’s look back and see how we got here.

  • October 14: TB 3:2 PHL – This was in the beginning of the season, before we gelled together.  Pretty much anybody could have beaten us then. Here’s my recap of that game, in which many early problems that I saw that had been corrected during the course of the season, thus far.
  • November 18: TB 8:7 PHL – How can we forget this game. We took leads, lost them, got them back, and eventually blew the game. Yes, we managed to score, but that night our defense and goaltending completely fell apart. I had no idea what went so wrong. But once again, we recovered.

And now the game two nights ago. The Lightning jumped out to a real early lead, and held on, managing to stay within their system. JJ and Clement talked extensively about how TB’s coach complimented the Flyers depth, and planned to counter it by swarming guys towards the puck.  And as the game went along, and the plan worked well, they kept pointing out how the defense was putting a clamp down on us. Pronger said after the game that we did a poor job attacking their 1-4 zone. Despite all of this, I’m not afraid of them.

For one, they didn’t invent some new tactic that will take years to learn and destroy.  They played a regular trap.  The reason it worked so damn well was because of their early lead.  They scored quickly because they skated well early on and had their transition game going.  Having a good transition is something every team in the league strives for.  Of course there are different ways of doing it, but it’s something we’d done a good job of preventing before, against other opponents. We did manage to get into their zone fairly often, we did cycle the puck, and we did have many good chances. We just didn’t have the scoring touch that we’d shown prior to the All Star break.

So despite the fact that we’ve lost every time we’ve faced them, it was not due to their system.  Every loss was different. Remember eons ago, when the Devils were good and always whipped our asses? Those games were always the same. They shut us down, sit back, bore us to death, and eventually score. Once they have a lead, they would wait for us to attack, then convert on our mistakes. Tampa did that to us in the latest game, but not in the previous two. Their strategy worked well because we just didn’t come out of the gate ready, and made some early mistakes in the neutral zone.

However, we play them again in just under 2 weeks. At that point we should be back into the flow of the game, and should be able to judge how well we actually match up. If the do manage to control the neutral zone and make things difficult, then forget everything I said about them not having a system.

One final note: the powerplay.  No, we didn’t score, but things looked a lot different.  The Flyers moved the puck around a lot faster, and seemed a lot more aggressive. They tried firing from different angles, not necessarily relying only on shots from the point.  They set up various screens, and tried sharp angle shots from down low.  It seemed to generate some good pressure, and might finally solve our extra strength problems.

Thanks for reading!

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Tags: Blueprint Chris Pronger New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Flyers Tampa Bay Lightning Trap

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