Philadelphia Flyers: Defense Is the Biggest Concern, Not Ilya Bryzgalov

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IFebruary 5, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 29:  Braydon Coburn #5 of the Philadelphia Flyers in action against the New Jersey Devils in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 29, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers are in bad shape right now. They are being outplayed and just can't seem to put together consecutive good games. The biggest reason for their struggles is their weakened blue line.

Ilya Bryzgalov has really played well so far. He hasn't had absolutely spectacular performances or anything, but he has been surprisingly consistent and really stepped up at times to keep the Flyers in games. 

The Flyers defense, on the other hand, has been subpar at best. There were already questions about their depth coming into the season, and those questions were amplified with the injury to Andrej Meszaros.

Kimmo Timonen is playing like a worn-down 37-year-old. He hasn't been sharp as usual, and looks slower all over the ice. He's been beaten a few times where he shouldn't have been, and isn't joining the offensive rush as much as needed.

That lack of offensive rush from the back is the biggest problem the Flyers are dealing with right now. They just aren't generating any offense from their defensemen.

Kurtis Foster and Braydon Coburn only have three points each. Luke Schenn has just two. Nicklas Grossmann has registered one measly assist.

To put it bluntly, that isn't good enough. Coburn is playing over 22 minutes per game and is a good skater who needs to be strong in his own zone but then push the puck forwards and make something happen.

They aren't taking advantage of opportunities to swing the momentum in their favor and reclaim control of the game. Without the blue line controlling the puck more, they won't be able to dictate the pace and flow of the game.

They also just aren't getting quality minutes from the bottom of the rotation. Bruno Gervais and Kurtis Foster look overmatched a lot of the time. Andreas Lilja is definitely not the answer. 

Maybe Brandon Manning and Erik Gustafsson, two young guys with a lot of speed, will arrive at some point and be spark plugs. Or maybe GM Paul Holmgren will pull off a big trade for a two-way player like Keith Yandle.

Whatever the case may be, Philadelphia needs to figure out how to improve their defense. They have left Bryzgalov out to dry too many times and aren't providing any help to the offense at all. If something isn't done soon, the season will be lost already.