The Philadelphia Flyers feel like they’re at a breaking point. Stop us if you’ve heard that before. But after a putrid showing last week which included a couple blowout losses, and a couple more uninspiring losses this week, it seems the season has pretty much gone sideways.
No rest for the wicked though, as the Flyers now must get ready for a matchup against a team that utterly humiliated them 9-0 in their last meeting. That’s right, the New York Rangers are in town!
Part of me wishes they’d just get their doors blown off again so that Chuck Fletcher might actually make a couple moves. However, after his “State of the Flyers” address yesterday, it doesn’t really appear that anything is imminent.
So, what do Flyers have to do to make sure they don’t get embarrassed again tonight? We’ve got some ideas.
Keys to the Game
Stop trying to “Big-Brain” odd-man rushes
It’s hard to levy criticism against the forward group (at least the top six) because they’ve truly been the only thing keeping the Flyers in games as of late. The offense has been lighting it up virtually all year and remains the team’s biggest strength.
That being said, they are also making things more difficult for themselves. Recently, the team has shown a total unwillingness and inability to capitalize on odd-man rushes. We’ve seen 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s, 2-on-0s, etc. as of late and very rarely do the Flyers even get a legitimate scoring chance. That’s just unacceptable. Those are gimme plays that the team feasted on last season.
Take advantage of free offensive chances –> win games. It’s that simple.
Alain…use your timeouts
Perhaps the biggest issue with Alain Vigneault this season is his refusal to utilize his timeouts to slow down the pace of the game. Far too often the Flyers are clearly on the verge of a spiral and AV simply looks on from the bench. It’s the coach’s job to have a finger on the pulse of the team.
Between the last few meetings vs the Rangers and the Islanders series, the swing in momentum was palpable. If fans can feel from their couch that the tides are shifting in a big way, the coach needs to have that same presence of mind.
Use a timeout to help settle the team, we’re begging you.
Keep your head on a swivel
The Rangers are a fast and gifted team offensively. They have a plethora of players who have a nose for the net and aren’t afraid to take chances to get there.
The Flyers need to be present at all times in their own zone. Far too often we’ve seen total lapses in communication result in wide-open backdoor goals. That has to stop. Not only is it killing them in-game, it’s also evaporating any glimmer of confidence their netminders may have.
Even at the opposing blueline you’ve got to be aware. The Rangers took advantage of a few Flyers turnovers in the offensive zone last meeting.
The Rangers are a dangerous team, but they aren’t perfect. They have weaknesses of their own that the Flyers can exploit. If they can’t figure out how to at least play a semi-sound defensive game, the winner of this contest will be the one that makes the least glaring mistakes in their own end.