NHL Coach's Central: Philadelphia Flyers Vs. St. Louis Blues
After watching the Philadelphia Flyers take on the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center, there were numerous observations I made, including positives and negatives from both benches.
In this regular segment, I go through standout players, those that need work, tendencies of each team (both good and bad), in addition to some strategies and formations that must be praised or fixed.
James Van Riemsdyk Seems To Be Having Trouble Doing Basic Hockey Skills
Starting on his first shift, sophomore winger James Van Riemsdyk looked to be struggling.
This is not the first time this season it has happened, as throughout the Pittsburgh Penguins game (10/7), Van Riemsdyk was unable to receive passes with ease, had trouble playing physically, and generally looked a bit confused during the flow of the game.
Against the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, Van Riemsdyk constantly bobbled passes, was in the wrong place and had trouble getting the puck to his teammates.
The winger has great amounts of talent, and although I’m not declaring a sophomore slump after two games, he needs to start showing more initiative in the games or he will be subject to the double “S” word.
St. Louis Did a Great Job Pulling Philadelphia Defenders Away From the Defensive Slot
A perfect example of this was midway through the second period, a St. Louis defender (I apologize, but I forget which one) skated towards the Flyers’ slot, then skated backwards, away from the net – with him taking Flyers defenseman Oskars Bartulis. Bartulis followed him to the sideboards, also dragging numerous Flyers forwards. This puck staring allowed the St. Louis defenseman time to find one of three open players in the offensive zone, ultimately leading to a scoring chance.
The Blues’ Penalty Kill Is Still Tops in the League
In 2009-10, St. Louis led the league with an 86.8% efficiency on the PK.
Saturday against the Flyers, the Blues looked just as great, as they even managed a few shorthanded scoring chances – and didn’t allow a single goal to the Flyers’ dangerous power play unit.
St. Louis was able to continuously shift between a diamond and a passive box, depending on what the Flyers’ formation looked like. When the Flyers began cycling the puck, the Blues slowly closed in on them, forcing a turnover. When Philadelphia got the puck back to the point, St. Louis’ forwards were there within a second.
Their aggressive play and knack for taking away almost every shooting lane frustrated the Flyers and their ability to get pucks on Jaroslav Halak.
Philadelphia Thrives on Crashing the Net – As They Always Do
Most of the Flyers’ scoring chances came when they were able to briefly set up in the offensive zone and send two to three guys at Halak. In fact, their first goal occurred because Briere was crashing the net with his linemates and was able to get his stick on a rebound. St. Louis’ speed is what caused Philadelphia problems all night, but when the Flyers forced the Blues to match up with their size, the Flyers almost always won.
Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com.
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