Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thank Heavens That's Over

Ugh. That wasn’t pretty, was it? To be honest, I’m kinda glad it is over- and I’m pretty sure the Flyers “defense” is too. Whoosh! Heads up Rathje and Desjardins- here the Sabres come again- swarming the Flyers goal like tie-fighters buzzing the Death Star. So yes, Buffalo is better than the Flyers- and yes, not by a little bit either. I give. Accordingly, a fifth beating will not be necessary people.

I can’t really kill the Flyers here. This defeat is ultimately a result of their approach- as opposed to effort, players or coach- that I ringingly endorsed the entire time. When the Flyers announced Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje as the two big pre-season signings- and then added Denis Gauthier as the big in-season acquisition, the organization was gambling. The gamble was that this “new NHL” was an invention of the regular season- and once the play-offs started, the league would revert to the lax enforcement of Rulebook C- and let the players decide who wins the Cup- not obstruction fouls.

I was wrong. That doesn’t matter. Consequently, the Flyers were wrong too- and that unfortunately did matter. Hatcher, Rathje. Gauthier and Desjardins struggled- and the Flyers never once featured consistent, orderly play in their own end. They really missed Johnnson- the one truly world class defensemen on the roster- who could have defended and provided order for 28 minutes a game, aided in transition play for guys outside the top line, and added some offensive confidence and ability at even strength & on the power play. Johnnson is a really good player- and the A-level defenseman can be really missed in the play-offs.

So the Flyers were then forced to try and steal the series. For the most, Esche was pretty okay- but the Flyers realistically needed “amazing” in goal to win here. The top line provided good offense in the games the Flyers were in- but the younger players were pretty bad frankly. Dimitrakos, Carter, Richards, Umberger, Savage and Radivojevic played a total of fifteen games and not insignificant ice time- and contributed three goals and a combined minus 19. Throw in Eager’s and Kapanen’s combined minus eight- and pretty much the Flyers entire forward corps, outside the Forsberg line was literally an inoffensive disaster.

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