Emery And Pronger Are Steps In The Right Direction

Doug DonofrioCorrespondent IJune 28, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 25:  Martin Biron #43 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs  at the Wachovia Center on April 25, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Flyers 5-3 to win the series 4 games to 2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ray Emery and Chris Pronger are incremental steps taken in the right direction by the Philadelphia Flyers. Several months ago I wrote an article that Philadelphia needed several elite players to win the big games against the NHL's best players.

Holmgren got one step closer to Pittsburgh Friday night minutes before the NHL Entry Draft began.

Many pundits were not in agreement with my assessment of this team. Apparently Holmgren did, to some degree. This team still needs more toughness, physicality, and grit to get to the next level. With the acquisitions, most recently of Ray Emery and Chris Pronger, the Flyers have made a concerted effort to alter the dynamic of this hockey team.

Many of those loose pucks in front of the net now will be be covered up for a whistle or cleared out of the zone. Opposition bodies that have made their home hanging around the crease looking for tip ins and wack-ins now will be shoved out of the way and/or put on their behinds.

What the Flyers seemed to lack is a trifecta known as grit, toughness and the old adage, playing with a snarl. Last year Philadelphia had six players score 25 or more goals, yet fell short in an area more critical during the playoffs and big games. They played tight, tentative and lacked the so-called killer instinct.

Holmgren, in his finite wisdom, must look beyond the two moves he has just made and continue to add to the mix. Simon Gagne and Danny Briere, although not ideal trading pieces due to the number of years and money in their contracts, would be a nice second step.

Both are dreadfully soft and afraid of contact. Each has lost some competitive fire over the last year; Gagne due to multiple concussions and Briere due to injury and complacency.

Mike Knuble, another soft player, should be allowed to walk and utilize his unrestricted free agent status. Giroux, Carter, Carle and Coburn, though all highly skilled and competitive, need to hit the weight room and improve their overall body strength.

There are still moves to be made as intimated by Holmgren. What those moves are we do not know. We can speculate into thinking this or that but really we are just hoping that another shoe may drop.

Let's just hope that the next move again addresses the need for more toughness. I cannot state this enough. Primarily a third line right winger who will be aggressive, attack the puck, hit someone, work the wall and score the odd goal.

Not a player named Mike Knuble, however.

That player may be Dan Carcillo. I just have not seen enough of him to make that recommendation.

Darroll Powe is a nice complement to the makeup of this team and deserves more ice time as possibly a third line center.

It will be an interesting next few weeks as Holmgren looks to incrementally get to the next level. Those moves however must be strategically placed.

The intangibles are critical right now.