Flyers Early Elimination Unacceptable

The Flyers season came to a disappointing end Saturday when they lost to the Penguins in the 1st round in 6 games, 4-2. This is not a situation where it is nice for the Flyers to make the playoffs, and we are happy just being there. It is quite the opposite, as lately, we have seen the Flyers make the playoffs year after year, and had to go through the agony of watching us get eliminated every one of those years.

Starting with the 1994-1995 season, the Flyers have made the playoffs every season except for the disappointing 2006-2007 season. In all of those years in the playoffs, we have seen our Flyers get eliminated in every round of the postseason, including a loss to the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup, and multiple losses in the Eastern Conference Finals, including losses to the Lightning and Devils, among others. This season started out with very lofty expectations. The Flyers made the Eastern Conference finals last season, and lost to the Penguins. But the Flyers did a great job last season, and ran into a better Penguins team. The Flyers are a very good offensive team, with a lot of young stars, so we expected a lot out of them this season. The regular season never seems to be a problem for this team. The Flyers always are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and are usually one of the better seeds in the playoffs.

This season, due to struggling down the stretch, the Flyers fell to the 5th seed, and had to play the 4th seeded Penguins. This was a very bad draw for the Flyers, as the Penguins might be the most talented team in the Eastern Conference. However, the Flyers were in this position because of their own doing by playing poor hockey down the stretch. So another offseason comes quicker than we would have liked. The fans deserve more. We deserve a Stanley Cup. As successful as the Flyers have been, they have not won a Stanley Cup since the 1974-1975 season. I, like many other younger fans, was not even alive at that point. Unfortunately, it has usually been the same story as of late with this team. When Bobby Clarke took over, he always seemed to have slower, more physical players. Clarke never liked the speedy, softer European players, or Russians. To Clarke's credit, he did do a successful job with the Flyers, but he never got us over the hump.

Now with Paul Holmgren in charge, he seems to feel the same way about players and talent evaluation as Clarke did. It is not fair to criticize Holmgren, as he has not had the job long enough to build his team, and that is not what this is about. But at some point, the Flyers philosophies have to change. Don't get me wrong - I love being a physical team. I love being able to beat the crap out of softer teams, and muscle teams around. But you need to add in speedy, finesse players to compliment them, and the Flyers have lacked that as of recently.

The offense, while inconsistent at times, is usually not the problem however. The Flyers defense, beyond Timonen and Coburn, is average. Saying the Flyers need to get better at defense each offseason has become like the Eagles need to bring in a #1 receiver. It is the truth, however; the Flyers do need to get better at defense. Too many times, when you see the opposing team score a goal, you say there is nothing that the goalie could have done to save that. That is on the defense. With this team, the offense is set. You have good, young players on offense who can make plays and score goals. You need to get better at defense. Marty Biron is over 30, and is a free agent, and may not come back next season. If Biron does not come back, you need to get better at the goalie position as well. I am not going to bash the goaltending as much as some others, I feel like putting a solid defense in from of the goalie will improve that position greatly.

Bottom line - losing in the 1st round of the playoffs to whoever is not acceptable. To take a 3-0 lead in Game 6, and then lose that game is not okay. The players, and coaches should be livid. The fans are. As fans, we expect and deserve more from the Flyers. Other teams in the Eastern Conference such as the Devils, Capitals, and Penguins aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and will always be among the teams competing in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers need to step up their game, improve their team, and finally win the Cup that we all have been waiting for.

1 comment:

T-Bone said...

Sorry (kind of...) to rehash a comment I left for a previous post on the Flyer's ineptitude, but I'm still pissed about this team's appallingly bad performance (and the owner's appallingly stupid post-game comments), so I think the comment bears repeating (maybe 100 times until Snider gets it...):

Disgraceful performance by the Flyboys, and equally disgraceful post-game comments by Snider who, despite 34 years of evidence to the contrary, still retains the delusion that he has a clue. Channeling Reid at his best, Snider claimed that the Flyers have no major problems to address, and just need some "tweaking." Give me a friggin' break! On several occasions in this Comments section I've pointed out that this team has serious deficiencies and is a regression from last year's team. The Upshall deal was an abortion, as amply demonstrated by Carcillo's typical brain fart in allowing himself to be baited into a fight with Talbot when up 3-0 -- a fight that Talbot knew he couldn't win, but which had no other purpose than to fire up his listless teammates. Carcillo, like a number of his mates, has the IQ of a bag of hammers, which is the only possible reason for the constantly stupid, ill-timed penalties this team has continually taken. It's also the case that Richardson + Carter in no way equals Crosby + Malkin. Our best players simply aren't on the same level as the Pens' best. Add to this a slightly (and I do mean SLIGHTLY) better than mediocre goalie in Biron, and you get exactly what we've seen: a third or fourth tier level playoff team -- nothing less and nothing more. I take absolutely no pleasure in having nailed my prediction for this series: the Pens in 6 -- but it was painfully inevitable. I sincerely hope that Homer demonstrates greater insight than his self-delusional owner and squarely addresses this team's deficiencies that are sticking out like a sore thumb. And those deficiencies are clearly speed, defense, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, goaltending.