Well…shit. I’m writing this the day after the Flyers got absolutely annihilated by the Bruins 6-1, an action I wrongfully believed would give me time to cool down. No, I’m still fuming and am going to say that as of right now, the Flyers STINK. If something doesn’t change very soon, this team isn’t even sniffing the playoffs, let alone make a long Cup run. I’ll get into how upset with this team I am more in a minute, but first I’m going to go over week 1, a simpler time when I was a lot less concerned about this team.
The first two games I was cautiously excited. Did I say after they beat the Penguins 6-3 the Flyers were winning the Cup? Maybe, but I’m allowed to speak in hyperbole every now and then. In reality, what I saw was good but not great. I enjoyed the fact that the Flyers scored 11 goals in their first two games, don’t get me wrong, but I knew it wasn’t something that was going to happen very often. I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible when I say this, but I don’t think the Penguins are a playoff team, particularly because they’re not strong on the back end. That allowed the Flyers offense to go off and make up for the fact that they did not look very good defensively. Was I worried about it? A little, but I figured it was just the first few games and they’d get it together.
Then week two came and everything went to shit. Two games against the Sabres, one of which included a 6-1 loss, and two losses to the Bruins. The first loss to the Bruins involved blowing a two goal lead and allowing four goals in the third period, while the second involved another 6-1 loss. TWO 6-1 LOSSES IN THE FIRST SIX GAMES OF THE SEASON? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is simply not what playoff teams do no matter who you are. I’m about to go on a rant highlighting what the Flyers look like post Penguins series so get ready.
First off, the Flyers defense is TERRIBLE. I knew the retirement of Matt Niskanen was going to be a problem, but I didn’t think it would be THIS bad. Nisky, buddy, if you’re reading this, I am BEGGING you to come out of retirement. I haven’t seen a team be so inept at defense that they make their franchise goalie look this bad in…I really don’t know to be honest. Anyone with a brain and a set of eyeballs knows that none of this is Carter Hart’s fault, but it still has to be killing his confidence.
Next on my list of things the Flyers are terrible at right now: the transition game. In addition to struggling with the breakout and clearing the puck in general, it is brutal to watch the Flyers in the neutral zone. They just look lost and like they’re trying to do way too much. They just look like they’re on their heels and struggle to shift from a defensive mindset into an attacking mindset. It also doesn’t help that they can’t complete a tape to tape pass unless they’re right next to each other. Then, when they FINALLY get into the offensive zone, it looks like they have no idea what they’re doing, like they’re shocked they got that far. I get it, cycling the puck down low is a good way to generate some scoring chances, BUT NOT IF IT’S THE ONLY THING YOU DO IN THE OFFENSIVE ZONE BEFORE TURNING IT OVER. I’m really trying to figure out what changed between the Penguins series and every other game since that completely changed how the Flyers operate offensively. Yes Couturier’s absence is really bad, but you still can’t be this bad in offensive zone. Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien need to sit down and rework the offensive strategy while players are hurt, or this season is going to suck.
The final point I’m going to make in this rant is: the Flyers are one of the softest teams I’ve ever seen. The entire time during the Bruins game I’m texting one of my college teammates saying someone needs to drop the gloves and beat a Bruin into the dirt. He makes the great point of saying, “who would do it?” and I was even more annoyed, mainly because of how right he is. There is no one on this team that can step up and be a tough guy when the game calls for it. There’s no guy who can shift the momentum and get the boys fired up just by beating some guy to a pulp, and the Flyers are SERIOUSLY missing that guy right now. The only person I can think of to fill that void is good old first round bust, defenseman moved to left wing, Sam Morin. The guy is 6’7″ and tough as nails so you might as well insert him into the lineup to be the guy who’s going to get his guys fired up and maybe win a game they would otherwise lose. Either that, or some guy is going to have to step up an accept that role. I’m looking at you, Voracek, Aube-Kubel, and every single defenseman not named Ivan Provorov. Somebody figure it out and knock a guy into next week when you’re losing 6-1 next time. I can’t take it anymore.
The only thing going for this team right now is that they have two games against New Jersey coming up this week. That should (and I cannot emphasize “should” enough) be two wins, but we’ll have to wait and see. After that, it’s two games against the Islanders, which I’m really not looking forward to. If the Flyers can steal one game against the Islanders, thank God, and we move onto the next one.
I miss Matt Niskanen and I miss Sean Couturier. I’m not happy with this team right now.