Monday, October 23, 2006

A final word on Philly

The defence was too slow. The goaltending too porous. And then the coach — the one with a 408-249-100 record — lost the ear of his troops.

Or so the story goes.

I missed the pile-on due to a busy Sunday, but I did want to throw a final two cents on the Philadelphia situation into the mix:

Lost in much of the finger pointing the past two days is the fact the Flyers are in deadlast in goals scored with 1.88 goals for per game. And as bad as Derian Hatcher has been — with a plus/minus on pace for a staggering -103 — there has been absolutely no goal support on this team for ages.

Watching the Flyers play late last year, in their first-round series with Buffalo and again this year, it's been an incompetent offence that has held the team back as much as anything.

Philadelphia scored 14 goals in six playoff games last season (2.33/game) and only 116 in the second half of the regular season (2.83/game). Their power play this season is third from the bottom (7.3 per cent), managing to score on only 4 of 55 attempts, and the top line of Simon Gagne, Peter Forsberg and Mike Knuble has contributed two thirds of the team's goals.

New coach John Stevens has his work cut out for him, and it won't be as easy as relegating Hatcher and Mike Rathje to his bottom defensive pairing and coaxing some solid netminding out of Antero Niittymaki.

Let's just say it's too bad that Stevens' teams in the past have had as much luck scoring goals as this year's Flyers.


At 7:26 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Pleasure Motors said...

Something else worth noting is that for all the disparaging of Philly's defence--myself included, mostly because I've always hated Derian Hatcher--they're actually in the top half of the league for shots against: it's the .862 save percentage that really hurts. (And even with that, their PK is middle-of-the-pack, too.)

At 12:06 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Docciavelli said...

Yeah, but...

I mean, anyone who saw Afinogenov's walk-around of the traffic cone that is Derian Hatcher in the "new NHL" and the rest of that 9-1 debacle could've seen this coming. I mean, for years the Flyers had gotten by on being the bigger team that leaned on its opponent for three periods hoping to wear them down rather than outskate them.

Now, you have to skate to simply keep yourself in the game. Bobby Clarke didn't wake up to that reality. My pops and I are pretty bummed-out Phlyer-haters now that our favorite screw-up is gone. I can't tell you how many laughs we've had at the expense of the Philly faithful for sticking by their beloved Broad St. Bully GM while he continued to put team after team together that underachieved.

And don't lay the blame on the forwards for the lack of offense--half of your offense in the new game is an effective breakout with speed from your own end. If you're spending half the game running around like chickens with your heads cut off in your D zone, how the hell can you efficiently get the puck through center ice with possession? My guess is that replacing Hatcher and Rathje with a few Freddy Meyer types would've made a world of difference.


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