Flyers Lose Emery... And More Games

Flyers goalie Ray Emery will miss 6 weeks, and will undergo surgery to repair torn muscle in the lower abdominal area. Brian Boucher is the starter for the time being, and the Flyers recalled goaltender Johan Backlund from the Adirondack Phantoms.

This is more bad news for the Flyers to go along with the fact that they have dropped to last place in the Atlantic Division, 13th place in the Eastern Conference, can't seem to find a way to win a game at all, and can barely seem to put the puck in the net. The Flyers have lost 5 games in a row, and 8 of 9, with the only win being a 2-1 win against the Islanders... who by the way are ahead of the Flyers in the standings. Along with the Sixers, the 2 winter Philly teams are currently on an 0-15 streak, and 1-19. The Flyers have only scored 15 goals in the last 9 games. In the early season, the Flyers were at one point among the leaders in goals scored in the NHL.

When you looked at this Flyers team at the end of last season, you saw a team that was very solid on offense, but not very good at defense, and average at the goaltender position. The Flyers addressed the goalie situation, and also brought in one of the best defenseman in the league in Chris Pronger. Going into this season, you still had to feel good about the Flyers offense. As I mentioned above, the Flyers got off a very good start, and were scoring a lot of goals, as expected. They have since hit a wall, and have been unable to get out of the current funk. The funk has cost John Stevens his job, and we need to hope new coach Peter Laviolette can get this team scoring goals soon. Guys like Scott Hartnell really need to step up their games. The offenseman on this team need to stop playing average and become stars. There needs to be a sense of urgency and not complacency.

The NHL season is a long one, and teams can go through stretches like this and still bounce back, but the Flyers are very close right now to falling out of contention. Chris Pronger, who has played great this season, understandably does not want to step on anyone's (Mike Richards) toes on this team being the new guy, and get in some people's faces, but I think it is time to let Chris Pronger do what he needs to do. Pronger is a natural leader, and I'm not sure Mike Richards is... off the ice at least. I don't believe however that you need to take the Captaincy away from Mike Richards. If you did that, it could have some serious negative effects on Richards progression as a player and a leader of this team. I am not trying to bash Richards, because I like him a lot, and he will be the captain and leader of the future, but to hold Chris Pronger back from being a natural leader, is a waste of one of his strengths.

Pronger should be given full range to speak to the younger players in the locker room, and get the players fired up. Richards is a natural leader on the ice with his hard, aggressive play, but he is sometimes quiet and hesitant off the ice. Pronger is not, and we need someone to step it up. The Captaincy is an honor, but at the same time, that doesn't mean other players shouldn't be able to step up and lead when need be, especially when you have a guy like Chris Pronger in the locker room.

No matter what they do, and no matter who does it, whether it be Richards, Pronger, or Laviolette - someone has to step it up and start leading this team to get out of this funk. The Flyers are a good team, and have a lot of talent on the team. It may only take one win, or even one fluky goal to get this team going. Let's hope they get that win soon, because between the Flyers and Sixers, it feels like we haven't seen a win in about a month.


T-Bone said...

"Chris Pronger, who has played great this season" -- Has played great?? We must be watching different games. Pronger undeniably has a lot of upside both in terms of skills and nastiness -- he's a perfect fit for Philly and I agree he has more locker rooom leadership pedigree than Richards. But I haven't been witnessing great play from him either: clearing and passing miscues, bad penalties right in front of refs (I'm all for the big guy slashing, but not when the ref's 3 feet away staring right at him), and slap shots that sail yards wide of the net. I was glad they got Pronger, and still am, but I don't think we've seen close to his best games yet, and certainly nothing that would qualify as "great."

Kotite's Corner said...

He is top 10 in scoring among defenseman, he was the league leader in +/- until the Flyers started sucking, he's still +9, plays half the game, is the best defenseman on the team, and a much needed upgrade from last year's defensive units.

T-Bone said...

I don't disagree with anything you say - obviously I can't disagree with his stats. But stats only tell part of the story. Yes, Pronger's clearly the best defenseman on the team and yes, he's an enormous upgrade over the crap defensive units of the past few seasons. But I really don't think he's yet played up to his potential -- which is huge -- on a consistent basis. In a number of games he's frankly contributed to the Flyers sucking. This isn't at all to suggest that he sucks, or that he's overrated. The big guy is very good, but to me "great" equates to consistent excellence, and I just don't see that he's achieved that level of consistency yet.

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