NHL Playoffs: Philadelphia Flyers Again Have Offensive Depth, No Goaltending
They lost the opening game in their second round series with the Boston Bruins 7-3. Once again the offense showed up at times. Three different Flyers (Danny Briere, Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk ) scored in the game.
Two of the goals came after Philadelphia was trailing 5-1 late in the second period. Brian Boucher let in several soft goals and wasn't taken out of the game quick enough.
Even when Sergei Bobrovsky came, he didn't play much better by letting in two goals in 23 minutes. Once again the Flyers' musical chair goalie philosophy could cause the team to fall short of the ultimate goal.
The lack of great Philadelphia Flyers goalies of the post-Bernie Parent era is well documented. However, there were Vezina winners like the late Pelle Lindbergh and Ron Hextall.
Hextall helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 1987 and 1997, both losing occasions. His play was inconsistent during his two stints in Philadelphia, but he fared much better than others who have guarded the net at the Spectrum or Wells Fargo Center in recent years.
The list includes standouts (some for all the wrong reasons) like Garth Snow, Sean Burke (twice), John Vanbiesbrouck, Brian Boucher (twice), Roman Cechmanek (underatted), Robert Esche, Jeff Hackett, Antero Niittymaki, Martin Biron, Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobrovsky.
This is a far from a group of standout netminders and stark contrast from the offensive depth the Flyers have had over the last 20 years.
The Legion of Doom got a lot of attention in the 1990s with a scoring line that featured two rising superstars in Eric Lindros and John Leclair, and Mikael Renberg, who quickly faded after his stellar rookie season.
While that trio got a lot of attention, Rod Brind'Amour was one of the league's best second line centers, despite having new linemates nearly every season.
Peter Laviolette's Flyers get a lot of attention for their center trio of Danny Briere, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Any one could be the first line center on most teams. It wasn't too long ago when Ken Hitchcock's Flyers had a great center trio of their own at the end of the dead puck era.
Having Jeremy Roenick, Keith Primeau and Michal Handzus anchor different scoring lines was not an easy task for the opposing teams.
Phiadelphia never won a Stanley Cup with Bobby Clarke as general manager, but the team was never short on talented forwards. In addition to those talented centers, their linemates included the likes of John Leclair (past his prime), Mark Recchi, Simon Gagne and Tony Amonte.
That money was never spent on a top-notch goaltender, something that could have made them a superteam.
Bobby Clarke failed on several occasions to bring in a superstar netminder.
Terry Murray was fired as head coach after the Flyers got swept in the 1997 finals against the Detroit Red Wings, even though a goaltending change was needed more.
Ed Belfour was traded to the San Jose Sharks midway through the 1996-1997 season, after a potential deal fell through with Philadelphia. After the season, Belfour signed with the Dallas Stars and helped them win a Stanley Cup two years later.
The following offseason, the Flyers finally had brought in a free-agent goaltender, but not the one they were hoping for. Curtis Joseph was at the top of their free-agent wishlist, but instead they got John Vanbiesbrouck.
Curtis Joseph signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and helped them beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round during the 1999 playoffs.
These weren't the only times that Bobby Clarke could have signed Eddie the Eagle or Cujo. Both them were free agents after the 2002 season and signed elsewhere. Belfour replaced Joseph in Toronto, who replaced Dominik Hasek in Detroit.
Roman Cechmanek was the starter at the time, but their wasn't much faith in him at that point. After all the team would cut ties with him after the conclusion of the 2003-2003 season.
During that the same time period the division rival New Jersey Devils won three Stanley Cups behind the stellar play of Martin Brodeur. Those Flyers teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s were equally as talented as those Devils, in every aspect except the goalie position.
Signing Ed Belfour or Curtis Joseph would not have guaranteed the Flyers a Stanley Cup (or Stanley Cups), but it would have put them in a better position to be a contender. Perhaps Game 7 of the 2000 and 2004 Eastern Conference Finals may have been in their favor. Both of those games were lost to teams that eventually won the Stanley Cup.
Maybe their wouldn't have been as many early playoff exits to the Ottawa Senators or close series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite of all that has changed for the Philadelphia Flyers over the years, they a team with a lot of lots of offensive depth and without a established netminder.
A goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers remains what rosebud was for Charles Foster Kane.
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