This is definitely not how the Philadelphia Flyers imagined the season would start. Not many would have thought that they would be 1-7-0 after the first eight games. Even in the game they won against Florida was an ugly victory. That’s one win and a whole lot of losses to start the season. The good news is; the Flyers haven’t lost a game in nearly a week. Well that is they haven’t played a game in nearly a week. Coach Berube now has had some time to install his system. The game seems to be moving too fast for them right now. They have to simplify there approach to get out of their heads. Think less react more. There is a ton of pressure playing in Philly and it is showing all over the ice. If the Flyers go into their next few games and get on roll these first few weeks, as painful as they were, will soon be forgotten. That’s one of the beautiful things about the NHL. Even if you suffer a bone crushing loss; in a day or two you can redeem yourself. I usually don’t get too high or too low on a team until the 15-20 game mark anyway. It’s about then a team will either gel or show signs that this could be a long year. BUT what if the next few games look like the wheels are falling off this team. What happens next? Team President Peter Luukko gave his vote of confidence in GM Paul Holmgen so his job seems to be safe for the moment. Anyone that covers the Flyers knows that moments can change at any time. Do they not only change the General Manager, but does the roster get changed as well? Let’s hope as Flyers fans we don’t find out.
**With all that said I still really believe in this team. Wasn’t a big fan of the roster selection the first few games, but I really like the Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl call-ups. I for one think that they will both remain after Lecavalier and Hartnell come back from their injuries.
**Kris Newbury has been sent back to the Adirondack Phantoms so that means that Vincent Lecavalier is, barring a set-back, going to be in the line-up on Thursday against the New York Rangers. My sense is that Jay Rosehill is the next to go when Scott Hartnell returns.
**Signs are also pointing towards Scott Hartnell to either return tomorrow, or more likely Saturday against the Islanders. That is great news considering the Flyers first medical report on him said 2-4 weeks. I hope he is not rushing back too soon and risk more time lost. It has to be insanely hard to watch the team you play for lose like they have been and know there is nothing you can do about it.
**The Flyers have been doing a bit of line juggling in practice the last few days. When Hartnell does return the forward lines might look like this:
**Scott Laughton has been busy putting up “videogame” type numbers for the OHL Oshawa Generals. It’s a shame that the rules prevent him from playing in the AHL. He is the type of player that should be allowed to be moved to the AHL if the NHL (Philadelphia Flyers) team that holds his rights wants to put him there and use a year of his contract eligibility. He is gaining nothing by playing against inferior competition. It’s not realistic to assume that he would put up the monster numbers in the NHL that he is, but putting him on the Phantoms would help his growth. Stupid rule!!! Bill Meltzer wrote a piece the other day about this that couldn’t have been put any better so I won’t even try. Here is the link.
**Speaking of Laughton. Why would it have been too hard to put him on the fourth line. A line of McGinn-Laughton-Talbot/Rinaldo would be pretty darn good to see. If that is the teams fourth line; that seems deep to me. Yeah he wouldn’t be getting a ton of minutes, but if he is performing at a high level there is nothing to say that the Flyers couldn’t move him to a different line. He would also be receiving very valuable NHL experience; unlike what he is getting now.
**That’s another thing that bothers me sometimes. What is the big deal about labeling the lines First, Second, Third, Fourth and those labels have a weight all their own. To me the top line is the one that produces the most on any given night. I understand a “First Line” of Raffl/Giroux/Lecavalier should get the benefit of doubt and get the most time on ice to start the game, but if another player on a different line is rolling then find a way to move him around. If the “Third Line” which consists of Read/Couturier/Simmonds is generating the most chances on a certain night then they should be rewarded with the more playing time. If it happened to be more than the “Second Line” then so be it. Produce more=Play more. Not too hard of a concept.
**Lastly I would like to say that for once I feel that the goaltending is the least of the Flyers worries. Now Ray Emery hasn’t played great and he has also had limited opportunities, but that is due to the fact that Steve Mason has been fantastic at times early on this season. He has clearly been the Flyers MVP so far. These first few games would have been a whole lot uglier had he not been on top of his game. It seems that he is taking control of the starting position in net. Now if the rest of the team could just get going the Flyers could return to being a very dangerous team to play against. It’s still very early and I think that things will start looking up, because if I am wrong the real answer to the “What’s Next” question is another very long season and off-season without the playoffs.