Philadelphia Phault Lines

No more skate sharpeners. No more glove dryers. No mare taping of sticks, ankles, knees or anything else. The season has ended. It was over far earlier than we had wanted or expected. What went wrong?

The team was flat. They couldn’t score. They couldn’t defend. Worst of all, it didn’t look like their care. “Blame the coach!  Blame the captain! Blame the goalies! Blame the GM!” That’s what we’ll hear from national media that doesn’t know the team. That’s what the message boards will say, mostly thanks to trolls that don’t really understand what they’re watching. But really, whose fault is it, and why?

For one thing, we can look at injuries a bit. That’s not an excuse, that’s a reason, partially. Coming into the season, we boasted a deep group of defensemen. Depth is good, but the only person we couldn’t really replace was Pronger.  The rest of thfany whye guys are above average, and capable of making plays. But he stands out significantly. He is more sound in his end, and more consistent on offense than anyone else.  With him hurt in the beginning, middle, and end of the season, it made things much, much worse.

In addition to that, I’m sure we’ll find out more and more about various players’ ailments. Richards will probably need wrist surgery. Good luck winning faceoffs, taking shots, fighting, or throwing hits when your wrist is messed up. We grew to love him because of his heart. That quality doesn’t just vanish. Something had to be wrong for him to play like a ghost of himself. Now we know.  Injuries are something that many teams deal with. That’s why in the end, the teams that stayed the healthiest are the ones playing in June.

Still, injuries are not the #1 reason. Despite who’s in and out of the lineup, we still had enough to win. Nobody ever promised us that the goaltending would be a strong suit. Blaming Boucher and Bobrovsky, and even Leighton for not being great is stupid. We were told they’d be good goalies, that would make the easy saves, but wouldn’t steal games for us. All season long, that’s exactly what we got out of them. In the playoffs, Boucher took a step back. But it’s exactly what his career has been. He’s never earned the #1 job anywhere, and bounced around everywhere, because he’s not consistent enough. I like the guy, I’m fine with him here. But he’s not the man.

That’s what I put most of the blame on Peter Laviolette.  His system is great. It suits our team perfectly. But his management of player personnel was horrible this season. Completely horrible. Let’s review:

  • Nikolai Zherdev: Ok, he doesn’t play defense. Is that why we got him? NO! He’s here to score goals. If you don’t like his attitude…then why even bring him here? He should have played 82 games, and every playoff game. Keep him in game shape, find him linemates that will feed him the puck, and enjoy a 30-40 goal campaign. Instead, we had bums like Jody Shelley and Andreas Nodl fumbling pucks and contributing nothing.
  • Mike Richards: He’s not a scoring machine, but he’s got enough offensive capability to be more than just a shutdown, defensive forward.  Give him linemates that can score! Instead, he’s had Carcillo on his line, sometimes Powe, and sometimes guys that can actually play like Giroux.  He had JVR there before JVR figured out that he’s big enough to dominate. Speaking of which…
  • JVR: What took so long to get him going?!?! In the playoffs he was our best forward. In practices, and while watching tape, why has our coach not figured out how to get the most out of a guy picked 2nd overall? Why didn’t we see him dominating play back in October. Things got so bad that he was benched at some point in November or December. And why didn’t anyone know that he had the hardest shot on the team until the skills competition?
  • Danny Briere: He doesn’t like change. He likes playing with Hartnell and Leino. Keep him with Hartnell and Leino.Maybe they won’t score in every game. Maybe they’ll have a drought for a few games.  But let them work their way out of it. They compliment each other well, and they like playing together. Keep the players happy, and you’ll get the results we wanted. They won’t just forget how to play with each other. But when you keep shifting them around, it throws them off. Briere has clearly stated this, in public, on numerous occasions.
  • Jody Shelley: EVERYONE knew this was a wasted contract. Still, you played him. He didn’t scare anyone. He didn’t inspire anyone. He didn’t add any value to the team. Unless the GM is pressuring you to play him because he was under contract, there’s no reason for this idiot to be on the ice. Ever.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky: He came out of nowhere and was our opening day starter. He started more games than Boucher. But, we screwed up twice with him.  First, he played in 11 straight games in Oct/Nov after having split time with Boucher. The season in Russia is shorter. Why did we start wearing on him so early, rather than building up to it? Anyway, down the stretch, he proved to have the hot hand, and earned the starting job for the playoffs. He played brilliantly in Game 1, allowing a single goal. He faltered in the next game, and was suddenly reduced to street clothes. What. The. F@%.

Hell, the goaltending situation was mishandled so badly that it deserves it’s own post. Check back tonight or tomorrow morning for that.

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Tags: Andreas Nodl Brian Boucher Chris Pronger Claude Giroux Coaching Dan Carcillo Danny Briere Injuries Jody Shelley JVR Michael Leighton Mike Richards Nikolai Zherdev Peter Laviolette Philadelphia Flyers Playoffs Scott Hartnell Season Review Sergei Bobrovsky Ville Leino

  • Chris

    Ceratinly Laviolette deserves the blame for the rotating goalie fiasco. However the blame for what went wrong squarely falls on the shoulders of the players. Certainly the defensemen outside of Pronger are not above avaerage. Matt Carle and Sean O’Donnell are both mediocre to below average defensemen. Both were turnover machines and both played very porrly in front of our goalies. I don’t care iwhat injuty Richards may have had, he player without any heart and very unimspired hockey. Giroux constanly turn-over the puck try to make pretty passes and cute plays. Scotty Hartnell was horrible. I agree Zheredev should have played all season. Bottom line is outside of Briere and JVR, the Flyers lacked the desire, despiration and grit needed to make a long run in the players. The effort just was not there.

    • Eugene Markman

      Pronger made Carle look really good when they were together. Without Prongs, he took a step back.
      O’Donnel for a 6th defenseman is fine. It’s kinda unfair to ask for much better than what we already have. You wanna tell me Boston is deeper than us on D (If Pronger is there)
      I agree that most players looked careless out there. But a lot of that goes back to Lavy. shouldn’t he make sure they are ready? Shouldn’t he tell Giroux to stop fooling around. Shouldn’t he make Hartnell keep going into the corners and heading towards the net once we get possession?
      I don’t care how much any player makes, it’s not on their mind all of the time. I think it’s up to the coach to get guys motivated and ready to play.

      • chris

        Does Lavy deserve some of the blame of the Flyers collapse in the Bruins series? Yes. Is he the key element for the sweep? No. Throughout the season and the playoffs Laviolette has shown he knows when to call time outs and motivate this team. Hartnell’s lack of motivated play is nothing new. Steven’s benched Hartnell because he was not playing hard. Las t season in the playoffs is the only time I have every since Richards be deserving of “captain” status, he surely did not show up for this years playoffs. The Flyers would benefit from a more vocal captain like Pronger or Briere.
        On paper the Flyers are deeper than almost any team defensively, However Philly’s defense was horrible throughout this years playoffs. I believe Lavy did all he could to motivate this team and get them ready to play. Unfortunately, the players needs to execute which they did not. Even Pronger got on Giroux regarding his turnovers. When the players don’t buy-in, execute and stick to the game plan, the coach is not to blame.

        • Eugene Markman

          I don’t think there is one key element to blame for the sweep. There was a lot wrong with the team.
          His timeouts seemed a lot more magical last season. I guess that is up to the players to execute.
          Hartnell is Hartnell. If he’s not hustling, he’s useless. He doesn’t have enough skill to get by, it has to come from effort.
          I don’t care how vocal Richards is. When he’s on, the team is much better. This season was a bad year for him. But prior to that, he’s done pretty much everything we ask of. I couldn’t care less how he treats the media.