This was just one example of how bad the defense has been, but these were two players who just completely ignored Fogarty. Two players that AV thought would make an impact tonight. This now begs the question. Who is at fault for this disaster? We can keep blaming the players night in and night out for poor play, decision-making and overall effort. But, in my mind, a team is only as good as their head coach.
I, like many people, was stoked about the hiring of Alain Vigneault. I finally thought this was it. He had taken two teams to the cup final before and this was finally the time he was going to win. Along side him is Michel Therrien, who is coaching the forwards and power play, and Mike Yeo, who is in charge of the defense and penalty kill, and Ian Laperriere returning to do pre-scouting.
The Flyers looked very good last year and seemed to be one of the most dangerous teams in hockey. Things just seemed to go their way. But this season has been the complete opposite. While the Wells Fargo Center was a fortress last year, it seems to be a cake walk for most teams to just pick up two points, even after fans have returned.
The PP and PK have been very underwhelming this year and the overall play hasn’t been good, but at the end of the day, the overall system is prepared by AV. The coaching staff has to be able to work together to get things running smoothly.
The Flyers coaching staff doesn’t seem to be able to get this group prepared day in and day out and also seems to not be able to get the most out of their young talent, but this isn’t anything new for AV. In fact, there are remnants and bread crumbs scattered throughout his time between the Rangers and Canucks.
In his years in Vancouver, he had a stud of a goalie in Roberto Luongo along with the Sedin brothers and mostly vets. The year he took them to the cup, he only had one player 25 and under score more than 10 goals and it seems to be a common theme for teams run by AV. Lineup decisions and not taking blame for mistakes was another big downfall of AV. He would call players out and never take any responsibility for the short comings of his team.
Moving onto New York, it seemed like AV’s ghosts continued to haunt him. He took the Rangers to the Stanley Cup his first year there. The Rangers just did not seem like a match for the Kings who won that series 4-1. After that, The Rangers made it past the second round once and that was the following year. Again, young talent that has been proven to be good continued to get benched or have a second look because they were not getting the looks that AV wanted them to have.
Last season, it seemed like the tight checking teams were the two who gave the team problems. The Canadiens gave the Flyers a tough time time in the first round. The veterans were not playing well and some of the young guns weren’t either but thanks to Carter Hart they were able to win games and that series. The Flyers then lost to the Islanders in seven games.
They did not seem prepared for that final game, but worst of all, the coaching decisions and lineup moves were baffling. Especially when AV would consistently put Nate Thompson, Derek Grant and Nicolas Aube-Kubel out against the Islanders top line. Let’s not forget he did that in the Montreal series as well.
Right now, it seems like the same bad dream but this time, the colors are in orange and black. When you have people on the outside of this team saying they see the same things happening that happened in New York, that is a red flag. Especially with all the talent that New York has had. It feels like teams don’t always come out prepared and ready to play. You’re playing a lot of games in a condensed schedule, but you need to have practices and a morning skate in order to get your team focused in.
Alain Vigneault has spoken about his practice habits last season and how they have changed over the years
"“It got to the point where I felt we just had to touch the ice once between games,” he said. “Whether it was a morning skate or a practice, that’s enough….”You can do stuff off the ice that’s going to help your game. All the arenas now have facilities where they can work on their shots and work on their puck-handling skills. But I think just once on the ice between games is good, and I’ve been doing it for quite a few years now.”"
AV believes in rest and down time for his players, but when the Flyers went 12 days without practice and got stomped multiple times in that stretch of games, it should tell you as a coach that you need to do something better for your club. Getting the team refocused and dialed back in with a couple practices and morning skates would make a difference.
AV likes to employ this system of stretching the ice and trying to break out using this stretch passes. It worked very well last year, especially when having to dump and chase at times, but this season, it seems like teams are well aware of what’s going on in this style of play. This then allows teams to flood their blue line and force a dump and chase scenario most of the time.
This type of system calls for a good conditioned team and for players to be dialed in and on the same page night in and night out. But lately, the defense has been out of position more then not, and the offense has been stagnant. Overall there has been just lackluster performances after another, to no fault of the players.
At some point, something has to give. A change on that bench would have to be made. This team wants to win and they want to compete night in and night out, but bad decisions made by the coaching staff does not help. Changing the lineup, constantly calling out players to the media and sitting players who just need to play out of their funk will cause bad chemistry, karma and overall play to occur.
I just do not believe that firing an assistant coach or moving a big name player will cause this franchise to move in the right direction. Finding a system and a coach willing to employ said system that actually works for his players that he has would be a key part to their success.
If you were to fire AV, you have two head coach caliber assistants on your bench right now and I would go so far as to even give Scott Gordon another look. He has been able to develop young talent in the AHL as the Phantoms head coach and I think he did a great job with the guys when he was called up as the interim head coach after Hak was let go. I do not wish for anyone to lose their job, but when it comes to the success of this team, I truly believe there is a better option out there.
Only time will tell whether he can get this team back on track, but right now the team is sitting three points out of a playoff spot. And the upcoming games are going to be a challenge. The decision is up to Chuck Fletcher and hopefully, he makes the right one.