5 Places the Philadelphia Flyers Can Turn to for More Scoring
Here is a list of five things the Flyers can do to improve their scoring issues.
Keep in mind some of these things are contradictory. They are independent and separate suggestions and possible choices that the coaching staff and general manager Paul Holmgren have to help improve the team's offensive production.
This list goes from the one that will shake up the team the most to the one that will cause the most change.
Feel free to chime in and comment on any of these suggestions or add one or more of your own. As always, please indicate why you feel the way you do and back it up with some evidence.
5. Show Patience
The Flyers can't stick with this strategy forever, but the logic is there is too much offensive talent on this team for the Flyers to remain near the bottom of the league's scoring statistics for long.
On paper, this makes sense. Claude Giroux scored 28 goals and 93 points in 2011-12. Last year, he averaged roughly a point per game during the lockout-shortened season. Giroux has no goals yet this season and, dating back to last season, has gone 20 games without lighting the lamp, per The Associated Press' Justin Einhorn.
Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds have only one goal each through 14 games. Voracek had 22 goals and 46 points last season in 48 games, while Simmonds was on pace for 27 goals last season if there had been a full 82-game schedule.
Scott Hartnell scored 37 goals in 2011-12. He has just one in 10 games thus far this season.
Add talented newcomers like Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit and younger players with offensive potential like Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Matt Read, and logic dictates that the law of averages should kick in and the offense should pick up dramatically in the near future.
4. Mix Up the Line Combinations
OK, coach Craig Berube has already done this one and he continues to do it, looking for chemistry by mixing up the line combinations.
Last week, Berube moved Lecavalier to the top line in an attempt to get Giroux going. It did produce the only game this season in which the Flyers scored more than three goals, a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders, but did not have a lasting impact.
At practice on Wednesday, Berube again shook up the lines. Anthony SanFilippo of the Flyers' official Web site reported the combinations were Scott Hartnell with Giroux and Jakub Voracek, Lecavalier centering Brayden Schenn and Matt Read, Michael Raffl with Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds, and a fourth line of Zac Rinaldo with Adam Hall and Jay Rosehill.
Berube will most likely continue to juggle the line combinations until he finds something that works consistently.
3. Allow the Defensemen to Gamble a Bit More
When Craig Berube took over as coach, one of his early moves was to try to make the team more responsible defensively.
With the Flyers struggling so mightily to score, it may be time to alter that strategy. The Flyers have some defensemen on their roster who have put up solid offensive seasons in the past like Mark Streit, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros.
Perhaps it's time to allow some of these defensemen a little more latitude to take chances and create some offense.
Sure, this does potentially make your team more vulnerable to odd-man rushes, but when you're barely averaging 1.5 goals per game, you need to make some changes in your approach. If the forwards catch fire or the defense is too vulnerable, the system can always be changed back, but right now, the defensemen need to be allowed to be more aggressive.
2. Recall Nick Cousins from the AHL
The Flyers' best offensive prospect is Scott Laughton, who played five games for the team last season and didn't look out of place.
But, the Flyers sent Laughton back to juniors, and he must remain there this season. In 14 games with the Oshawa Generals, Laughton has 14 goals and 28 points. But the Flyers can't bring him up right now although he has a bright future.
The top offensive prospect the Flyers can bring up from the minors right now is Nick Cousins. The 20-year-old Cousins has eight points in 11 games with Adirondack of the AHL. Last spring's "Future Watch" issue of The Hockey News described Cousins as "gritty" and "hard-nosed," "a smaller version of Scott Hartnell," adding that the "puck seems to follow him."
That grit could give the Flyers a short-term shot in the arm. Marcel Noebels has only three points thus far at Adirondack but has the skills to possibly help for a few games. Neither of these players is a long-term solution this season, but they could help shake things up a bit and jump-start the offense a bit.
1. Shake Things Up and Make a Trade
If the Flyers don't start scoring goals soon, Paul Holmgren's patience will run out.
Holmgren has already fired coach Peter Laviolette after just three games this season, so you know he is willing to make bold moves to improve his team.
When Laviolette was fired, chairman Ed Snider told Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly:
"We haven't won a championship. We've been in the Stanley Cup Finals a lot of times, and we've been in the playoffs a lot of times, and the culture is to win," Snider said. "Thirty teams are trying to win the cup, and we're doing our damnedest to do it. That's our culture. That's our culture."
According to CapGeek.com, the Flyers are right up against the salary-cap ceiling, which may limit the moves the Flyers can make in a trade. But adding a goal scorer or a great passer who can help ignite some of the slumping players already on the roster is not out of the question.
That would certainly shake up the roster and keep the players on their toes with regard to job security.
Don't be surprised if a deal is made in a week or two if things don't start to improve on the ice in Philadelphia.