Philadelphia Flyers Have to Make Moves Now or Risk Missing the Playoffs
The 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia is over. The spectacle was great for the city and for the sport of hockey.
Now, it is back to the real world for hockey and especially for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers are in a little bit of a funk right now and that should be expected with a team as young as this. Even just in the early stages of this season, the Flyers have gone on some hot streaks and also some very cold ones.
After leading the Eastern Conference a few weeks ago, the orange and black have gone just 5-4-1 in their last 10 and have dropped to fourth in the East.
The way the Flyers are playing right now, it makes it easy to see what has to change as the season winds down.
Here are some moves/changes that have to be made in order for the Flyers to first, make the playoffs, and second, advance into them.
How to Handle Ilya
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In the premiere showcase of the NHL, the Flyers' $51 million goaltender did not get a minute of ice time as he sat on the warm benches at Citizens Bank Park.
Bryzgalov came to Philadelphia as a savior to most fans. Fans were thrilled that the Flyers had finally acquired a No. 1 goaltender. My question through 37 games is...how is this year different than any other year?
After dropping $51 million on Bryzgalov, the Flyers still seem to be in the same boat. I'm not knocking Sergei Bobrovsky by any means, but let's face it, the Flyers started their backup goalie in the Winter Classic. That is saying something about Bryz.
Now while we all expected him to turn it around sooner, it may not be soon enough. I think you will start to see Bob get a little more playing time the second half of the season.
Bryzgalov's confidence is just shattered right now. Hopefully we see a different Bryzgalov later in the season or next year.
With No Jagr, the Flyers Have No Offense
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Now don't take this literally, but let's face it—without Jaromir Jagr, the Flyers have a limited offense and it showed in yesterday's Winter Classic.
Jagr missed most of the second period and all of the third period. During that stretch, the Flyers were just out hustled and out played, which is why they gave up a 2-0 lead.
Jagr is now going to be out seven to 10 days with a groin injury. He's already missed time this year with the same injury so hopefully it does not keep lingering this season. If it does, the Flyers will be in trouble.
Another offensive playmaker is going to have to be acquired to jumpstart this offense.
With or Without Grioux
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This slide goes hand in hand with the previous Jagr one.
Without Claude Giroux, the Flyers have no offense. And without either Giroux or Jagr, well good luck.
Now while Giroux is not hurt, his concussion earlier this season just scares me. He only missed four games after suffering the concussion December 10. He has since returned and has scored seven points in his last five games.
While I admire Giroux's courage, I don't know if he came back too soon or not. One blow to the head and Giroux could be done for the season, like Chris Pronger.
With Giroux, the Flyers have to take extra special care of their young superstar. If they lose him for an extended period of time, they are in trouble.
Just as an insurance policy for Jagr and Giroux, the Flyers have to go after another playmaker to perhaps put on the first line if one of these two players goes down.
Lack of Experience on D
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The Flyers have given up 15 goals in their last four games.
Now while that is in thanks to Ilya Bryzgalov for the most part, you cannot put all the blame on one person.
Without Chris Pronger, let's face it, the Flyers' defense is weaker. It hurts just a bit when you lose one of the best defensive players in the NHL.
Now I give a lot of credit to the current six defensemen that are playing regularly for the club, especially to Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros.
Even with the good play of young guys like Marc-Andre Bourdon, I still think that Paul Holmgren has to acquire a veteran blueliner to take some of the pressure off of the other players.
Protect Your Own House!
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Over 46,000 fans stormed Citizens Bank Park yesterday and saw another home Flyers loss.
The Flyers just have not been the same team at home this season. Why? You're just going to have to ask the players. Personally, I'm not sure if Ilya Bryzgalov has what it takes to play in Philly. I hope I am very wrong about this, though.
You just can see his frustration with the fans, the team and the media in his interviews. Again, I hope I am wrong and hope that he gets straightened out for the stretch run.
Flyers fans create one of the most unique and exciting atmospheres to play hockey in. Usually that gets the home team pumped up and firing on all cylinders, but not this year.
Philly is just 8-6-2 at home and an outstanding 14-5-2 on the road.
For any team in the NHL, you have to win your home games. And for a team that is expecting to make a late season push for Lord Stanley's Cup, a .500 record at home just will not cut it.