The Philadelphia Flyers are by no means going down in flames this season. If anything, the franchise is on the up-swing, with young players like Claude Giroux, Sean Courtier and Matt Read, including others, all stepping up their games and looking to become eventual stars.
Offense has never been the problem for the organization this year. It really never has been since coach Peter Laviolette came to Philadelphia three years ago. The area of concern that has been pinpointed on this team for the last decade has been the goaltending position. And 2011 seems to be no different.
If there was one thing that could cost this team a run for the Cup and cost people their jobs, it is the defense as a whole, with the emphasis on the two goaltenders for the orange and black.
This summer, Paul Holmgren brought Ilya Bryzgalov to town hoping to end all concern and doubt about the goaltender future of the franchise. Now, $51 million later, the Flyer faithful might be in more doubt than ever. Could all that money be going to waste?
To be fair, Bryzgalov is adjusting to a new team, a new system and a new atmosphere. But don't you think through 30 games played, the adjustments should've already begun to take place? It's been almost a half a season and Bryzgalov is still showing signs of being lost in the woods. He said it himself that he has zero confidence in himself. That is not something you want to hear from one of the highest paid goalies in the league.
Coming into Monday, Bryzgalov was 38th in the league with a 3.07 GAA...Pardon? Yes, he is 38th in the league and he's behind seven backup goaltenders, including fellow teammate Sergei Bobrovsky.
If this goes on throughout the season, some big changes might be in store for the organization for the coming years.
Paul Holmgren was the mastermind behind the signing of Bryzgalov, but he was also the guy who traded away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and totally changed the face of the franchise. Looking back, that was one of the riskiest moves in Flyers history, but it surely is paying dividends so far in 2011. Could one bad move cost Holmgren his job? I doubt it, since the Bryzgalov signing might be only the first strike on his long list of successful moves.
Sergei Bobrovsky continues to be talked about in constant trade speculation and continues to be thrown around as the Flyers' hot potato. What should they do with their young, emerging netminder? They just signed a supposed No. 1 goalie for nine years, and yet it is Bobs who is playing like the $51 million man in net.
The defense is also in question, with the Flyers playing multiple rookies as injuries continue to hurt this team. However, as suspect as the defense is, they can only do so much to stop a shot. It's not their fault if the goalie cannot stop a floater from the point. All things considered, the defense has done a decent job after losing their captain for the remainder of the season. However, improvements have to be made and depth right now is a concern.
That leaves head coach Peter Laviolette, one of the most beloved figures in the sports town of Philadelphia right now. But is his job in jeopardy? It may be. Another early exit for the orange and black this season and Laviolette could very well be on the hot seat.
In no way am I saying that he should be let go or that he is not a good coach for this club, but with their current roster, there is no way the Flyers should be struggling heading into the playoffs. If that happens, some changes have to be made, and the head coach is always the first one that is placed under the microscope.
My hope is that Laviolette is saved by one of the Flyers' netminders stepping up and playing their true No. 1 potential.
If they do not, it may cost the city one of its finest and beloved figures.
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