Friday, November 12, 2010

10 Things the Flyers Proved This Year

1) Coach Laviolette makes his own decisions

Whether you like it or not, Laviolette is pulling the strings. This is a breath of fresh air after a coach, John Stevens, who towed the company line. Laviolette manages the personnel his way and I don't agree with it all the time but at least he is not afraid to make tough calls.

2) Flyers are still missing that last scoring winger

Laviolette and the Flyers run a 3 scoring line attack, meaning they need 6 scoring wingers. They currently suit 5 up a night. These five would be Zherdev, Hartnell, JVR, Leino and Carter or Giroux (whichever is not playing center). Instead of going out and getting that sixth winger, they have inserted a carousel of defensive and checking wingers into that last slot. These types would be Powe, Nodl, Wellwood, and Carcillo. That one extra scoring winger would give us 10,15,20 more goals a year and allow for all  three lines to reach their full offensive potential.

3) Bobby Clarke was wrong when he said average goal tending can win

If you haven't noticed yet, a very young and very Russian goaltender has stolen some points for the Flyers already this year. This has not been the case in recent years, er decades. In the past goalies have either kept the team in the game or lost it for them. But Sergei Bobrovsky has done very well, giving the team a chance to win every night, and sometimes carrying them to victory. People expected Leighton to do this, and claim Leighton did this last year. Blinders, I shout! Leighton played above himself last year, but he tired easily in the playoffs when it counted most (even though he only played half of the playoffs), making simple mistakes at the worst times. And in the regular season all he did was make the saves he should have made. Nothing more. Leighton does not have the talent Bob does. Bobrovsky is the reason the Flyers are off to such a good start, and his continued success will mark the Flyers'.  Bob is proving why it STILL all comes down to goal tending.

4)Claude Giroux is the best all around forward on the Flyers

He is like Mike Richards, if Mike Richards had 3 times the dangles. Giroux has moves, a shot, vision, speed, defensive skills, physicality and a sweet orange beard in the playoffs that matches his team's uni. His three short-handed goals leads the league in that category. 16 points in 16 games, Giroux is the future.

5) Dan Carcillo is a 4th liner

Miscast last year and at the beginning of the this year, Carcillo struggled to play consistent on a scoring line role. However, after being benched and put back on the energy line with Blair Betts and Jody Shelley, Carcillo has found his game again and is walking the thin line between pot-stirrer  and goon like he has failed to in the past. Hopefully he stays put down in the depth chart.

6) Penalties are still an issue

The Flyers lead the league with 89 minor penalties through 16 games. Although they have talented penalty killers, being shorthanded kills momentum, tires players and will eventually lead to a goal. For years the Flyers have stated they want to cut down on penalties, and whether under Stevens or Laviolette, they are still an issue.

7) Complete games are hard for this team

A hard effort from start to finish is a task that has been hard to tackle this year. Whether it is a slow first period, or letting up after they get the lead, the Flyers can't seem to put it all together. Their immense natural talent has kept this from being a problem, but later in the year when games get tougher, it might cost them a few points or even a playoff game or two.

8) Blair Betts is underpaid

I appreciated Betts well before this moment in the most recent Rangers/Flyers game but it wasn't until then that I realized the set of hands Betts has to boot. Betts is a mainstay on the penalty kill, and with his hustle he will chip in more than enough offensively for his small price tag of $700,000.

9) Flyers love fourth liners

Tag this onto number 2. The Flyers carry 5 fourth liners: Powe, Betts, Carcillo, Shelley and Nodl. Too bad they only have 3 fourth line slots. The other two get either sent to the press box or sent to the top three lines. Having role players, energy guys and grinders is great but having too many is another thing. The Flyers, in my mind, have too many and the use of them on the top 3 lines makes it even less acceptable. Hopefully after the year, they will be able to cut down on the number of 4th liners.

10) The black jerseys were awful

The orange and whites are so much better. See for yourself.


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