Has everyone calmed down a bit yet?
Has it been a long five games before finally getting that out of the way the other day? Of course it has. It’s been a frustrating stretch filled with finger pointing, media antics, and fan offseason preparations.
Now that people have calmed down after a solid win, we can approach the issues a little more realistically.
But first, let’s get your blood pumping a little.
You’d think by now the NHL would have looked into these Penguins vs. Flyers match-ups for “tampering.” Again, I’m not trying to promote conspiracy, but it’s time for people to take a realistic view on this situation. The Flyers never catch anything more than a trip to the penalty box when they play the Penguins.
Again, it’s in the NHL’s best interest at this point to come out and explain the rationale behind some of the calls made in these games, particularly yesterday’s game, which some people are calling the worst officiated game in modern NHL history. It’s getting old, and it’s about time the NHL answered for some of the people they employ.
That goes double for the Ottawa game. The officials in that game were just as horrendous.
I try to call out officiating only when necessary or blatantly obvious. There have been three occasions where the NHL has needed to fine referees based on their actions during Flyers games this season. Yes, in case you were wondering, I am calling the integrity of the league into question.
I have no problem with phantom calls or even the occasional make-up call to make things a little more interesting. However, let’s make sure we’re not making it so one team isn’t even allowed to compete. That’s all I ask. Well that, or explain your actions.
The Team Behind Boucher
Now, with all of that behind us, I’d like to take a look at what changed from the games we played over the course of the stretch and the game tonight.
Boucher has now started 20 games as a Flyer in 2009-10. Last night was his 6th win. That’s right. You heard me correctly. Boucher has a record of 6-15-3 this season. That means the collective of Healthy Emery, Injured Emery, Healthy Leighton, Injured Leighton, and Backlund, who started one game, hold a record of 32-17-3.
What this means is that for some reason the Flyers don’t come to play for Boucher. They played very well for Emery, who is better than Boucher. They played well for Leighton, who is technically worse than Boucher. They didn’t play half bad for Backlund either considering the bizarre officiating.
Still, this team has 82 points currently. 67 of those points over the course of 52 games belong to goalies other than Boucher. 15 belong to Boucher in 24 games. Without Boucher in net, the Flyers were pacing for 126 points this season. With Boucher? Just 51.
The numbers are far too crazy to be a coincidence. This also probably has a lot to do with the confidence of this team. Before tonight they never once seemed confident in Boucher.
It is true that earlier in the season, during the slump, Boucher was playing well while the Flyers gave him absolutely no offensive support. He suddenly goes down, and Leighton has a phenomenal run. Leighton goes down, and we’re back to square one with Boucher.
I’m not saying that Boucher means the end to our season. I don’t think it’s as simple as a chemistry issue. There are too many factors involved to get a true reading on how this works. Even so, it’s definitely some food for thought.
Fact and Fiction
The other day I got a very lengthy and thorough response which basically sum up the fans’ view of Flyers’ hockey. The fans deserve their say of course. We are all an integral part of what makes this organization tick. In fact, today at the start of the Season Ticket Holder Town Hall Meetings many of these same issues will be brought to the attention of the brass within the Flyers’ organization. I’m just going to give my opinions on these matters here for now. I’ll deal with the Town Hall at a later date when they have all concluded.
The following is a response session for a comment posted by zechohman on an article found here.
This recent “collapse” that the Flyers are going through has really made me rethink the direction I thought the Flyers were going towards. Like most, I thought this team was going to make a deep run into the playoffs, and who could blame me when major sports writers thought the same thing, though this mess we are in now has me thinking this team needs to go through a complete overhaul from the top to the bottom.
I don’t blame you for thinking this team had a chance at a deep run in the playoffs. I thought that as well. I’m sure many others thought that. It’s totally reasonable to expect a deep playoff run with this team. It was reasonable to expect one last season as well, but as everyone already knows, we lost in the first round despite handedly outplaying the eventual Stanley Cup Champions for the majority of the series. In some of those games, we absolutely couldn’t buy a goal.
This season, it’s a healthy combination of issues leading to our record. Confidence has been a major part of that and may even be the leading cause. When this team is losing you can tell they feel suffocated our choked. Then they fight back and often try to do too much. Then they get even more frustrated at their lack of offensive output, and it turns into an even longer slump.
Even so, these scoring slumps are deceptive. Scoring is down league wide this season. Right now the Flyers are in 8th averaging 2.87 goals forced per game. The team was tied for 4th last year with 3.17 goals forced per game. The 8th place team that year was averaging 3.06. So the offensive numbers, while frustrating, are normal. Our offense could stand some consistency, but it is certainly still elite.
Now, you’d think with all of that talent offensively and arguably the deepest defense in the NHL including a Norris favorite leading the charge, we’d have a much better record. Obviously things aren’t adding up, but if you read this entire article you noticed our frustratingly horrific record with Boucher in net: 6-15-3.
In an 82 game season at Boucher pace, we’d finish with 51 points. Even the last placed Edmonton Oilers have made it to 55 points already. With every goalie other than Boucher, we are 32-17-3 which gives us a pace of 106 points, which would be second in the NHL behind the Washington Capitals.
I’m not going to blame Emery for getting hurt, Leighton for getting hurt, or Boucher for the team’s terrible play when he is in net. However, this is obviously a team that needs to have a specific goalie. Boucher, at this point, is clearly not that goalie for whatever reason. Even more unfortunately for us, he’s the goalie we’re stuck with unless we can hold on long enough for Leighton’s return.
Still, this is not a team you implode and start over with. Believe it or not, this team is a consistent goaltender away from being a powerhouse. Emery was great, but it appears as though his career might be over. Leighton might be a flash in the pan. This offseason we need to move a little bit of our defensive depth (one of Coburn, Carle, or Parent) in order to pick up some extra goaltending. That’s all.
First, management needs to change. Ed Snider fails to see that hockey has changed since 75′. If the Flyers wanna win and play cap era hockey they need management that has NEVER worn the orange and black.
The Flyers organization, thanks to it’s management, leadership, and fundamentals, is the second winningest franchise (based on percentage) in NHL history. They have two Stanley Cups, a great legacy, easily the most loyal fanbase south of the Canadian border, and more than one legend for every decade. The organization has accomplished this by keeping things internal. This organization believes in “once a Flyer, always a Flyer.” They are easily one of, if not the, classiest organization in the NHL. They care about history, and they care about their players. It’s what has brought this organization success on the ice, around the Philadelphia region, and across the hockey world as former members of this organization seem to always consider Philly their favorite.
I mean, there’s a good reason that when Jeremy Roenick retired he thanked us, the city of Philadelphia, fans, and organization for everything we had done for him. He thanked everyone else, but you could tell he holds us in his heart. It’s the same story with everyone who comes here.
Regardless of whether or not you think the current management is doing a good job, this organization should and will stay internal.
Also, this team is nothing like the teams of the 70′s. Hockey has evolved in every generation, and this team has evolved with every generation. That’s another reason it was able to obtain the second highest winning percentage in NHL history as well as the third highest postseason appearance percentage in NHL history.
Paul Holmgren has created a mess that even Burke would have a hard time digging out of. I agree you can’t blame Homer for this goalie injury epidemic.
Paul Holmgren has certainly made some mistakes that were readily visible by many fans even before he made them. Even so, the vast majority of his mistakes look far different in hindsight than in the time he was making the decision. On top of that, Holmgren has done far more good than bad. The organization is in a very good position to win a Stanley Cup over the next decade thanks to Holmgren. I won’t go into detail now because I assume I will be at some point through the course of this session.
For years the Flyers have settled for cheap goalies. The only recent team I can think of that won a Stanley Cup was the Red Wings, but look at how that team was built. Putting them off to the side, if you look at past teams that won, they had star goalies making money. The Flyers need to see that until the money rolls to goaltending they can’t get much more done.
I disagree with this completely. The Red Wings are not the only team in the modern era to win the just average goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury, Cam Ward, and J.S. Giguere are all just average to above-average goaltenders that are products of their environment. Oddly enough, many people don’t realize that goaltending is probably the least important position to spend a lot of money on. This is because skaters greatly influence the goaltending position, their stats, and how well they play. Any average goaltender behind an elite team can get hot enough to win the Stanley Cup.
The only elite goalies to win a Stanley Cup in the last 20 years are Martin Brodeur (3), Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy (3), and Ed Belfour. 8 of the last 20 teams to win the Stanley Cup did so because of elite goaltending. When you look at teams to make it to the Finals, the number is even more skewed.
The reality of the position is that, since it is largely based on the team and not the actual goaltender, you end up finding so many goaltenders with the skill necessary to compete at a high level behind an elite team that goaltending becomes largely interchangeable.
The reason that the Flyers have not won a Stanley Cup since the 70′s is not because of some fatal flaw with goaltending. Not once has goaltending been the reason they were ousted from the playoffs. It could be this year, but that’s only after plenty of injuries between the pipes.
In fact, Leighton is a perfect example of the point I’m trying to make about goaltending. You should take a look at his pre-Philadelphia stats and then his 2009-10 season. You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about when I say that the team makes the goaltender.
There’s also something to be said for chemistry with a goaltender, and this is the real area where the Flyers have failed in terms of goaltending since Hextall. The Flyers have not gotten comfortable with any goaltender for a variety of different reasons whether it be play, chemistry, salary, or age. This offseason that will likely change thanks to the unfortunate injuries to Emery and Leighton.
There is good news. Anthony SanFilippo, who I trust the most out of the Philly area collective of beat writers, got some news from an anonymous inside source:
“We can’t go into next year with the same situation or a similar situation in goal that we have right now. What happened this year is really nobody’s fault. Ray (Emery) came in here and did everything we asked and was good until he got hurt. We got lucky with (Michael) Leighton, but we can’t expect to win doing things this way in goal.
“It’s already been decided that our No. 1 priority for next season is to get a goalie. We have to go out and get that player and commit to him as our guy.
“It’s probably going to mean somebody is going to have to be traded away, especially if we go after a young goalie on another team, but that’s what we’re going to have to do. We can’t keep going the way we have been. The goalie has to be the most important target and we don’t want to keep replacing one veteran with another. We want to get a guy who can be our goalie for several years…. We have to go in another direction.”
All this really does is prove what I mentioned in my article from last Friday: Emery and Leighton’s injuries have forced the organization’s hand. It has changed the organizational mentality to an extent, and we will be going after a young goaltender this offseason. I even included a list of our young goaltender possibilities in that article.
I do agree the goalies in the system have some light. Nicola Riopel and Joacim Eriksson have posted solid numbers, and I saw Carter Hutton play in Hershey on Sunday. He came up big, but only 2 games. You can’t get much from that.
One thing that Holmgren does very well is scout. He’s a great judge of talent and character. He employs great scouts who can also find these things in players. He also is very shrewd about building a prospect pool. He knows when he needs to work on something. Goaltending is certainly an organization weakness he’s planning to attack. He’s already attacked our forward prospect pool a lot this season, and we haven’t even gotten to the draft.
Anyway, back to goaltending. Nicola Riopel, Joacim Eriksson, and Carter Hutton are just the top of the barrel. The Flyers have sent scout Neil Little to check out Jussi Rynnas and Sergei Bobrovsky heavily. Both are incredible young talents. Many think Bobrovsky is even better than Simeon Varlamov of the Washington Capitals. Like the Swedish Johan Backlund, the Flyers are actively searching for goaltending talent everywhere possible, even Finland and Russia. Though Backlund is older now and likely won’t return to the team next year, both Rynnas and Bobrovsky are still prospect age. I hope we can manage either of them.
There’s also a rumor starting to spread that Eriksson could be headed over to North America. I would rather him get at least one season in the Swedish Elite League, but apparently he wants to head over. I’m sure the organization is working this out as well.
Now back to this mess of a hockey team. Homer has traded away a team that had younger players, like Sharp and other draft picks, and made this team a joke of an organization. Snider will not fire Homer just like he couldn’t bring himself to fire Clarke.
On December 5th, 2005 during the 2005-06 season, we moved Sharp and Eric Meloche for Matt Ellison and a pick that turned in Jonathan Matsumoto. Ignoring the fact that Holmgren wouldn’t become the GM for roughly another year, this was a deal that looked like a change of scenery move. It should have ended up trading two career AHL forwards for two career AHL forwards, but Patrick Sharp surprised a lot of people. Those kinds of trades happen. It’s not fair to judge Bobby Clarke in hindsight. There’s a reason he made that move, and it wasn’t because he expected Sharp to be a break-out sniping winger.
Honestly, as one of the best drafting organizations in NHL history, I’m not worried about moving picks, prospects, and young players to the extent that Holmgren has. We have a stellar young core with a solid group of complimentary prospects in the pool. I have absolutely no problem with that, and you shouldn’t either.
We are hardly a joke of an organization. As I said, we are one of the most storied, one of the best drafting, and one of the classiest organizations in the NHL.
The trades Homer has made has been questionable to put it nicely. Yes he’s made some steal. Like getting Coburn, but look at him now.
Coburn has in fact regressed since his rookie season. However, he is still far better now than he was last year. He was terrible last season, and it all culminated during the early portion of this season. Right now, he’s steadily improving. A lot of his problems were confidence related anyway. He definitely has all the tools, but for a while, he was second guessing himself. You could tell when he got caught flat-footed and skaters begin to go around him. He’s made some great strides to get back to form.
Besides, if you’re going to talk about steals, you should probably include Leino for Tollefsen+ as well as the Forsberg trade, which was just all kinds of awesome. Seriously, the Forsberg trade was like Christmas. Leino and Coburn were like birthdays. How about picking up impact guys like Krajicek and Leighton off waivers? If you’re going to blame Holmgren for the bad, you have to give him credit for the good.
Matt Carle. Sorry but between him and Coburn, I don’t know who turns the puck over more. Yes, he has good stats but when playing next to Pronger its hard to look bad. Getting Carle we got rid of Eminger and head case Steve Downie. Though we got Eminger because we traded a 1st round pick. Though im not sure if it was John Carlson they drafted with are pick, wouldnt it be nice to have him in our system?
Carle isn’t nearly as bad as he was last season either. It’s easy to go and say it’s all thanks to Pronger, but you need to watch Carle a little more closely. He’s a different defenseman. A lot of the reason he is able to play like he does is because of his confidence in Pronger next to him. Having a future hall-of-famer and current Norris front runner right next to you has its perks. It’s not as though Pronger is necessarily masking Carle’s mistakes, but he is giving Carle the freedom to play how he wants to.
Will this turn into how Carle plays all the time? Maybe. It’s a risky style, but it fits Laviolette’s system nicely as long as he has someone competent to play with on the other side.
Frankly, for what we gave up for him, Carle is a legitimate steal. Eminger is terrible and Steve Downie obviously was a headcase. The pick we gave up for Eminger sucked because it turned out we could’ve gotten Jersey-boy John Carlson or even goalie Jacob Markstrom, the guy who is shadowing Joacim Eriksson in Brynas’ system over in Sweden.
Still, you can’t dwell on those picks. You don’t really know what you would’ve had. Would I have traded that pick for Eminger? No. Would I have traded that pick for Carle? Yes, I would have. Downie getting thrown in sucks, but he was going to be an issue here anyway.
Upshall trade, yes it was for cap reason but if Homer knew how to manage the cap he wouldn’t of had to trade a 2nd round pick to go with Upshall for Carcillo.
The 2nd rounder included in that deal was brutal, and the deal was basically to let Giroux stay in the lineup. An interesting fact about that deal that not many knew about was that it was reported that Upshall wanted $3.50m per year. At 30 points a season, he wasn’t worth that. At 50 points? Probably, but we really had no room for that. Our cap situation forced us to include a 2nd round pick, but picking up Carcillo definitely didn’t suck.
Trading Umberger again cause Homer cant manage the cap. Though Sharp wasn’t from him it just shows young and possible prospects that we could of had.
Trading Umberger was going to happen in a cap world regardless. You can’t hold onto everyone. Sharp sucks, but you have to let that go. He really didn’t show any signs of an NHL future. Umberger was a decision made by the organization. We were going to lose either Umberger or Carter. That was set in stone.
You’re upset about all these assets we’ve lost, but you fail to see the assets we’ve been able to keep because we’ve made these trades. Another important factor are non-trades. Things like not trading Carter and a 1st for Kaberle at the trade deadline in 2007-08 and not trading Giroux or vanRiemsdyk to acquire Kovalchuk this past deadline are extremely important to the future of the organization. The moves where we have lost assets were necessary.
Let’s not forget though the contracts Homer hands out. I may be wrong, but didn’t Knuble want 2 million? Cause of the cap we couldn’t have him, and now he has 25 goals. Where as Hartnell, who makes what around 4 million with a NTC, has 14?!?! I hope I wasn’t the only one who knew that his 30 goal season was a fluke.
If I remember correctly, Knuble wanted a multi-year deal. We were willing to give him around $2.00m, but we couldn’t agree on the length of the contract. It wouldn’t have mattered much anyway. Knuble would not be nearly as effective here as he is in Washington this season for the same reason that Hartnell is slumping. Both Knuble and Hartnell don’t fit at all into Laviolette’s system. That’s part of the reason why Hartnell might be the one moved. He has struggled ever since Laviolette came to Philadelphia. He was great before then.
While I agree that Hartnell’s season last year was sort of a fluke, he’s hit the other end of the spectrum. This is the worst year he’ll likely have for a while.
Homer just gives out NTCs to anyone it seems. He’s constructed a poor team. Another thing I see no team do is have so many tough guys. You need those players, but we have 4! Cote (yes he never plays), Asham, Lappy, Carcillo and you could even say 5 with Hartnell for all his stupid penalties. Sorry to let the Flyers know, but the days of the broad street bullies are over and have been. Snider needs to wake up and see that! The style of play of bossing people around is over. Skill beats tough guys now. I thought this off season we addressed the fact that we weren’t going to look at it like that anymore.
How has he constructed a poor team? As I said, we have an elite offense and arguably the best defense in the NHL. Holmgren has constructed an elite team that was working perfectly fine until this team was forced to go with Boucher.
As for our “physical” aspect, that has nothing to do with the old days of the Broad Street Bullies. You have to have physical players in your lineup. The thing that the Flyers are doing now is focusing far less on fighting/gooning and working with hybrid players. These are your Carcillo’s, your Asham’s, your Laperriere’s, your Powe’s, and your Hartnell’s; players that bring the pain and some skills to go with it. The entire hockey world is moving away from the Cote-esque player. We even drafted a player like Downie as well as acquired another similar guy like Legein who is currently in the AHL. You can’t have do-nothing heavyweights crowding the lineup for protection anymore. These guys provide energy and are vital to every NHL team, not just the Flyers. It has nothing to do with the days of the Broad Street Bullies. In fact, we’re not anywhere near as physical as some NHL teams. Believe it or not, the Penguins are probably bigger goons than us now that we have put a leash on Carcillo. We are on the cutting edge of the new-era NHL, and it’s a shame you don’t realize that.
This team continues to still talk the talk but has yet to walk the walk. Our captain needs a sucker punch to the face. His binge drinking days gotta go. The letter “C” on his jersey needs to go. It’s no secret that Richards will be the leader of the team, but he shouldn’t be now. In my opinion, I feel the Flyers did what they could to try and keep Richards as close as they could to Crosby. Being a Philly fan, it should be law to hate Cindy, but he’s a better star then Richards and that is just fact even if he wears a diaper.
I’m not sure what you mean by “walk the walk,” but I assume you mean the fact that we turned into a paper tiger this season. Honestly, I think if our team has any confidence in goaltending, then we are among the top 5 teams in the NHL. Yes, our team is that good, and that’s another reason you don’t implode this team.
As for Richards, there’s only so much he can do. This kid is a proven leader, far more than Crosby. In fact, he’s been Crosby’s captain before. Richards isn’t a vocal leader like Pronger, but he is one of the better leaders to come out of the CHL in a while. Just because the media is in the middle of a feud with him, doesn’t mean their jabs at him are correct.
As for his binge drinking, all young hockey players drink. “Binge drinking” is probably a sizable over-exaggeration by the media, but these are still young professional athletes with more money than they know what to do with. NHL stars drink. NBA stars drink. MLB stars drink. Obviously, NFL stars drink. It’s all a matter of how much of a big deal the media makes of it, and who gets caught. There’s not much else to that. You think Crosby doesn’t drink? The entire “binge drinking” thing is just another money-maker for the media. It’s meant for nothing more than fan speculation and panic. That’s what leads to webpage hits.
Until change comes, Stanley won’t visit Philly.
Again, change is needed between the pipes because we’ve lost all our legitimacy at that position through the course of this year. It needs a refresher and possibly a young goalie to grow with. The rest of our team doesn’t need to change much at all.
People seem to think winning a Stanley Cup is easy. Ignoring the threat of injuries, every team at the start of the season has a 3.33% chance of winning a Cup. The Stanley Cup is unbelievably hard to obtain.
Those blaming Holmgren for our recent issues really have no ground to stand on. His only real big mistake was the Randy Jones debacle. That was a disaster start to finish. Any other mistake he has made he has corrected as soon as possible be it Eminger, leaving Stevens in too long, or signing Lupul to that contract.
Briere is not as much of an albatross as people think. It will likely become one in a couple of seasons, but we will have to worry about that then. Hartnell doesn’t fit in Laviolette’s system, and it’s possible he is traded. One of Carle, Coburn, and Parent is not necessary next season. One will probably be traded along with possibly Syvret and Matsumoto if we can find picks for them.
This team is not just built for a window. It is built for a decade. It’s unfair to claim Holmgren has failed his job just because you don’t see a Stanley Cup in Philadelphia. If that were the criteria, you’d see 27 GM’s fired every 3 years.
Holmgren, for all his faults, may be one of the best GMs in the NHL. It’s unfortunate that this has happened to this team, but the reality is that these things happen. It’s only thanks to Holmgren that we still have any semblance of a shot this season, that we will have a shot next season, and that we will still be around over the course of the next decade.
Everyone wants to fire everyone without knowing the truth. It’s easy to blindly call-up people, but it’s a severely different matter to actually get to the real issues that this team has.
The grass is always greener, and believe me, you should be happy to have the organization the way it is and not how most other organizations look. Looking out on the entire NHL world, I can attest to just how lucky we are.
Town Hall Meetings
There will be other things covered, but the direction of this organization is a main for this year’s Town Hall. Last year, as you know, the news about the Oranges jerseys becoming the new home jerseys was leaked. We here at Phinally Philly brought you that information first. Though the news that our Winter Classic jerseys will now be our regular away jerseys is already well-known, there will be more news coming shortly straight from the organization’s officers in regards to questions that you, the fans, ask. Stay tuned.