It became clear Saturday that without Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger, the Philadelphia Flyers are not a top tier team. That was especially true when they did in fact have both players healthy, they were able to beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 opening night.
While the game was not schedule friendly for the Flyers—being sandwiched on an afternoon between two long road stretches—they should not have been beaten so badly.
Now, in the words of Vin Diesel's character from Fast and the Furious, "Losing is losing whether by a second (in hockey's case a goal) or a mile (six goals)." However, in hockey sometimes a score doesn't always tell the story of a game.
In this game it did.
The Flyers, as Kimmo Timmonen put it, got a straight up "@$$ kicking."
Forgive me for being captain obvious here but the Flyers just don't have all the weapons to keep pace with a Bruins team that is the defending Stanley Cup champions and boasts the best goal differential at plus-47.
To beat a team like the Bruins, which appears will be necessary if you want to win it all this year, whatever team that does it will have to fight fire with fire.
You are not going to razzle dazzle them with offense. They play too sound a defensive game to allow themselves to get shelled.
Even if Tim Thomas suddenly becomes human, their defense doesn't give up many scoring chances, and their offense is able to keep pace with any being third in the league in scoring.
As I don't care if any other team besides the Flyers beat the Bruins, what the Flyers need to do is get better defensively.
Shea Weber makes you better than the Bruins defensively, not in a month, not in a week, but in an instant.
Perhaps you are still thinking that he really won't help the Flyers and that their current defensive rotation the way it sits is enough. In that case go here for a sampling of what Weber can do.
Once you have seen some of that footage, come back and tell me this defense has that guy already. Without Pronger, it doesn't.
Speaking of Pronger, he's 37 and has not been able to put a full season together since joining the Flyers.
I know the Flyers salary cap is packed tight. That's fine if you ask me. There's some fat to be cut from that hefty payroll.
Anyone who has run a business of any kind will tell you that when performance is not ideal and the payroll is high, layoffs are abound.
The Flyers can't lay anyone off but they can replace players.
Matt Carle, who has in fact not been under-performing as of late, but is in the last year of his contract, could be packaged into a nice deal with whoever else Nashville wants, to make the necessary cap room.
Eric Engels on Hockeybuzz.com seems to agree with his recent piece concerning the Flyers and a Shea Weber trade.
I have to admit his hypothetical trade in that blog is just too good to be true. According to Engels, he says all it would take to pry Weber from Nashville is Philly sending Brayden Schenn and two first round picks.
That's insane, but I'll go with it for now.
What I think it will take to pry Weber away will be in my next article, where I'll go more in depth.
For now, we need to think about why it is necessary. Can we just write this season off as a rebuilding year?
Hasn't this team shown they have a foundation upon which a championship can be built?
The hopes of a cup run this year were heavily entrenched upon the idea of Pronger leading this team.
In case you haven't heard the news, Chris Pronger isn't coming back this year. He might not ever comeback.
If he's not coming back this year, it makes sense to go after Weber.
Shea Weber is a restricted free agent after this season. If the Flyers can't resign him at season's end, they get picks back!
If they do sign him, that's even better.
The biggest problem with the Boston game Saturday was that no one could beat Boston to a rebound or clear the puck. Shea Weber more than compensates for this when he's out there.
Furthermore he brings that willingness to battle and compete. Something the Flyers just seem to lack when Giroux and Pronger are out.