After a spectacular start to a highly-anticipated season, where the Philadelphia Flyers knocked off the defending Stanley Cup winner and runner up, they have fallen into a losing streak.
It's only a two game losing streak in October with over 70 games remaining in the season. As we headed into this season, it was widely accepted this team needed time to grow. Well, the growing times have begun.
Since the problems with the team will be disclosed, I'll take this chance to mention a positive. The cancer from last year's team is gone.
This team plays energetic but incompetent hockey, a result of several new faces and youth. This is something that can be fixed.
Now let's take a look at the problems.
With as many new faces to the Flyers' roster, chemistry is sure to be a concern.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette has shuffled the lines more than a poker dealer already, trying to jump-start his offense. Despite a 5-4 win over Vancouver and then a 7-2 win against Ottawa, the Flyers have scored more than two goals only one other time out of seven games.
James Vanriemsdyk made it easy to make certain trades last off-season with his stellar playoff performance. However he and Jakub Voracek look lost at times on the ice thus forcing Peter Laviolette to shuffle their lines.
While Voracek and Vanriemsdyk are on pace for 50 point seasons, the Flyers need a bit more out these two wingers. Not only that but they know these two players are gifted enough to do more. Again growing times are here.
See the white stuff hanging out of Brooks Laich's nose? No, it's not from partying at the local after hours club!
That's the result of an epidemic that has plagued the Flyers this season–high-sticking penalties.
The Flyers didn't let it plague them tonight but the dumb penalties took their toll in the loss to Washington.
Braydon Coburn got the party started on Laich's nose with a double minor high-sticking penalty and Danny Briere felt left out later going on to receive a two minute minor for teeing off on Laich.
Before that, against Ottawa they racked up two more High-sticking penalties. One by Matt Walker was a double minor.
In the Flyers' first loss of the season against the L.A. Kings, they again had a double minor high-sticking by Briere complimented by a two minute minor.
Now this problem seems to be fixed. However a one game hiatus doesn't mean the problem is fixed. The Flyers will have to continue keeping their sticks low and off careening pucks in their own zone. Oh wait, that last one is for later.
Yes, Ilya Bryzgalov is frustrated. As a big supporter of his, the criticism I have right now is his allowing the frustration to throw teammate Braydon Coburn under the bus in a post-game interview. At least that's the interpretation.
Look, once this team gets its kinks worked out, it will be a juggernaut. They showed they can play with the best. Now they have to adjust and regroup after a couple losses.
Bryzgalov wants to win and wants to impress the Philadelphia fans. He's played solid despite some high goals against. This thing will take time but there are enough veterans on the back end to do it.
What he needs to do is block out the ingrates in the stands booing him during this process and not let it affect his game. Yes, if you are a Flyers fan in attendance and you're booing this guy already, you are an ingrate. He's the best goalie we've had since Pelle Lindbergh and I'm a big time Hextall fan.
Yes, that was a harsh thing to say about my fellow fans, but guys he just got here. Relax, enjoy the seven dollar beer and ten dollar pretzels. It's October not March, let him get adjusted to this team. There is an adjustment period ongoing still despite seven games into the season. It should be over by January so hold the boos till then, ok?
With that said, Bryzgalov looked to hesitate after a turnover by himself on a play that led to a goal scored by Joel Ward on Thursday. This carried over into tonight's game on the third and definitely the fourth goal.
That has to stop, else kiss the season goodbye, which leads to my next diagnosis.
Miscommunication is killing this team right now. The defenders don't know when to play the puck or leave it. In his post-game interview, Ilya Bryzgalov more than alluded to the fact he and his defense-men are not on the same page.
That's a big reason we saw nine goals against in two games. Right now as things are its bad this is happening but in a way good.
These regular season games count but its not the end of the world to lose a few right now.
Aside from not knowing what call is what, the defensemen are screening their goalie, blocking his view of the puck.
Against Washington at least two pucks went in off the defenders sticks. Furthermore, the defenseman need to adapt to playing with a goalie like Bryzgalov. They are used to goalies of previous seasons whom they basically had to not let shots get to.
In Bryzgalov's case he's going to stop darn near everything–if he sees the shooter. Not when his own teammates have sticks up deflecting shots, which also draws penalties once they smack the other team in the face.
Additionally, defenders are not picking up opposing forwards or clearing the crease. See the picture I attached. Bryzgalov has an opposing forward in his lap while he fights off a shot and looks for a rebound.It doesn't matter if you have Patrick Roy in net, that's going to be a goal 99% of the time.
These things can be attributed to a possible tweak in scheme, or just playing with a new goalie. Whatever it is, the mistakes look elementary and should be fixed easily.
How easily and soon will it be fixed? Let us hope by mid-season. The NHL season is a marathon not a sprint.
The Flyers are struggling but as I said on the opening slide this was anticipated. No they probably won't be the top-seeded team going into the play-offs.
They are losing by way of shooting themselves in the foot and not through a lack of talent. That is what you hang your hat on right now, not pouting about what they paid Bryzgalov or that they shouldn't have traded Captain Morgan and Sea Isle Jeff.