Paul Holmgren should know, he really should know what he needs to do, and do it immediately. He started this cleansing process early this summer and now needs to finish what he started.
Holmgren acquired Pronger, Lapiererre, Emery, Betts, and Tollefson to add some muscle and grit to a mentally weak and soft hockey team. Last year Philadelphia added Powe, Carcillo and Asham, and before that Hartnell.
He did this with a plan in mind; I hope in the short term as well as the long term. Yes, the game may have changed over the last twenty years due to the influx of the European athlete, but make no mistake the physical element, albeit having diminished here in Philadelphia, needs to resurface quickly.
I am not saying speed, skill, and finesse are not necessary, it absolutely is, what I am saying is that the Flyers have to blend their skill and speed with a tenancity that cannot be taught.
Danny Briere and Simon Gagne, I wonder if they understand how imperative it is to stretch on a continous basis to avoid the nagging groin injuries that they seem to encounter so often.
I have never seen two guys always hurt as much as these two guys.
You cannot play tentatively in this league and those two are as tentative as any two players on this team.
So, I am cutting bait and moving soft malleable pieces for gritty, stensile, tougher pieces. Philadelphia would be better served with several 15 goal scorers instead of the 25 that Briere or Gagne may produce, but who play along the wall and in the corners with an edge to their game, blended with toughness, and the physicality to complement Richards, Hartnell, Giroux, and VanRiemsdyk.
This is how they will defeat Pittsburgh this year in the playoffs. Using their team speed, and complementing this speed with a sense of urgency, grit, guile, and toughness.
Remember the Flyers did not lose to Pittsburgh last year for their lack of scoring depth, they lost due to their belly whimpering, soft creampuff mentality, and lack of support players from the third and fourth lines.
Holmgren and Philadelphia are closer than they have been but now need to hammer the final nail into the coffin and rid this team of Gagne and Briere.
Maybe Holmgren should look no further than the line of Betts, Carcillo, and Lapierriere.