Flyers Fans Have Reached Code Orange
Yes I’ve made up a fictitious terror color to get your attention. I think most Flyers fans have finally reached their limit and their patience is waning. It was clear that the fan base had lost their tolerance for defensive breakdowns and soft goals. The team and its fans started the season with great expectations. They had a new goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov and the roster had been turned over with younger talent and that was working, well mostly working.
Once Chris Pronger made his unfortunate exit I believe the team went through a “hangover” similar to when Peter Forsberg kept getting hurt. He was the veteran in the locker room that players looked up to and could count on when times got tough. Pronger may have been a step slower but he kept the crease clear and he did police the ice that he was on like no other. I think players recently have realized they probably won’t be seeing him on the bench this season when they may have secretly been holding out some hope.
The Flyers acquired Nicklas Grossman and now Pavel Kubina. Two big bookend defenseman. It cost them Jon Kalinski (a solid guy on the PK) and four other draft picks. Some they had acquired from other teams so many will say they had these to trade but I always say trading draft picks sets back an organization especially if they don’t have players on the cusp of playing the NHL. There aren’t too many Matt Read’s out there.
I still think the Flyers have some “B” (Harry “Z”, Nick Cousins, Kyle Wellwood) and “C” grade prospects (Niko Hovinen, Marcel Noebels, Marc-Andre Bourdon) and a few more but it’s not enough top-end talent. Those players are already with the big club and maybe two of these players will stick over time as well.
Right now the Flyers top six defenseman Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, Andrej Meszaros, Pavel Kubina Nicklas Grossman, and Braydon Coburn are a strong group. Erik Gustafsson as the seventh is pretty good as well. There is nothing else this team can do on the blueline so now the next upgrade needs to come between the pipes otherwise the Flyers will likely be an early round playoff exit.
Personally all the puck moving and shot blocking in the world won’t give the Flyers the kind of confidence that they need in him to go far in the playoffs. Right now his teammates are circling the wagons once again making sure the “team” takes the blame for these losses and not one guy. While there is some truth to that the goalie knows he generally lets up 1-2 goals a game that are absolute momentum changers for the opposition.
In yesterday’s game against the Penguins had he made the save on the first Matt Cooke goal the crowd would have cheered him and he would have had some positive momentum in the game. The goal wasn’t a game-changer but it did put the goaltender behind the eight ball early.
After Cooke’s second goal, the 3-on-5, Peter Laviolette pulled his backstop. Why? Not just for the change but because Bryzgalov let the puck play him instead of being aggressive and playing the puck in an effort to blow up the scoring chance. Timonen was holding the Penguins forward, with his stick across the chest, and he still flipped the puck into the net. Bryzgalov still has the wrong game plan in most games and much of this seems to be “mental” more than physical or by employing bad technique.
Do the Flyers “need” Rick Nash, no I don’t think so. Do the Flyers want to get Nash if they can trade Bryzgalov in the process, I would say so. I know the the Russian goalie has a no movement clause but many times cash or just a look in the mirror can get a player to change his mind. Is a Rick Nash/ Steve Mason for JVR, Bryzgalov and a 1st round pick out of the question? No way or Columbus GM Scott Howson wouldn’t have taken in yesterday’s game, with Craig Patrick, his senior advisor. They spoke to Paul Holmgren and something tells me they will talk again after the Jackets play the Rangers tonight.
Mason has clearly reached his limit. Watch this video and you’ll notice Jeff Carter is next to him at the end of the bench.
JVR clearly frustrated with the fans who were booing Bryzgalov yesterday made a PR error in his postgame comments. And fans are talking about it today.
“I think those guys kind of need to keep quiet up there. I know they pay their money…You win as a team and you lose as a team.”
The talented young forward knows that his name has been brought up in trade rumors and he’s taking that in stride.
“You just let it roll off you.”
For now the Flyers will roll on with a new defense and they hope they can move up the standings. Fourth in the conference is good but this team can do better than that. Holmgren will still be active as the trading deadline looms and a lot more names will be mentioned in trade talks as a result.
photo by del Tufo.