The Philadelphia Flyers need their leadership core to stop the bleeding when mistakes begin to snowball for the team.
Fresh off of a 6-2 thumping compliments of the Arizona Coyotes, the Philadelphia Flyers will now enter their matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes riding a three-game losing skid. While Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick lit the lamp for Philly in the game, that’s all that went right for the Orange and Black against the Yotes. Carter Hart started in net but was yanked after giving up three goals in the opening period and everything just snowballed from there. Ordinarily,y I would calm the fears of the Flyer faithful by recommending a players-only meeting or by someone being benched for a game or two, but this goes far beyond that.
As you likely know, the Flyers last played in the Stanley Cup Finals a decade ago. Since then, the team has been hopelessly mediocre, getting ousted in the first round in almost every postseason series since. They haven’t been good enough to win it all, but not bad enough to get a bonafide star from the draft. But it runs deeper than that. The team’s confidence seems to come and go like the wind blows. Where does the culture choke off the confidence?
Is it the front office? Not likely. Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher has been given the keys to the car but has not made impulse moves. Besides, he’s been in Philadelphia for just over a year, which isn’t enough time to fairly assess his work with the franchise. The same goals for coach Alain Vigneault. The defense is intriguing but not the problem, either. The best player on the backline is Ivan Provorov, and he is still trying to figure it all out. Braun and Matt Niskanen are the only two defensemen over the age of 30.
The goalies are exempt too because neither of them has been in a Flyers uniform for more than four years. As for the forwards, some are too young to be the voice in the room, but that can’t be said for others. The only group that hasn’t been examined is their on-ice leadership group. Herein lies the problem.
The committee is made up of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek, who are all the longest-tenured Flyers currently on the roster. Most teams have a leader in all situations, whether it be in the locker room, on the ice, or looking to do something that will spark or inspire. They have to make sure that the team is in great shape to win a game, even if the scoreboard has the Flyers behind. Right now, leadership is not leading in the manner the team needs it to.
This is part of the reason why we’ve had four games in a row where the opposition’s scored more than three goals in the first period. It’s not they haven’t produced this season as players since all three are Top 5 on the team in scoring, but their qualities as leaders have yet to shine through when the going gets tough for Philly.
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The road to the Stanley cup for Philadelphia will be paved by leadership, and the Flyers need guys like Giroux, Voracek, and Couturier to step up when things start to get out of hand, so games don’t go completely off of the rails as they have in recent contests.