Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nagging Doubts

I’ve spent a good portion of the last two days watching the Flyers complete an impressive sweep: at Pittsburgh, home for the Devils. That being said, I’m up in the air about just how good this team is, how ready it is to make a play-off run.

The mystery stems from last years play-off run- where the Flyers turned a very mediocre regular season into a nifty play-off run- winning a pair of series as the underdogs- before running into the Penguin buzzsaw. Philadelphia then got a pass from the local fans and media. The defense was riddled with an unreal number of injuries- and Malkin and Crosby riddled the collection of third pair style defensemen the Flyers were forced to dress.

But there were nagging doubts about the Flyers even then. The defense issues aside, they got real lucky in the draw. They outright stole a march on the Caps in the first round- getting up three games to one- and barely, grimly hung on to win in OT in a seventh game. Gritty to be sure- satisifying no doubt- but really, the Caps were much the better outfit over the last three games. The les Habitants did a total fade, particularly in goal, in the conference semi-finals- a chocking performance they still mentally have not overcome.

Frankly, the Flyers played two series last year where they had the better goalie? Biron? And that won’t happen again.

So yeah, I’m worried about Biron- who at his best in the play-offs last year, was merely "good for a journeyman". I’m worried about harder first round match-ups with either Pittsburgh (who decked them last year) or red hot Carolina.

Obviously the Flyers are loaded up front- six 20+ goal scores, and that is not counting Briere. But in the Daily News, Sam Donnellson makes a good point- about the dangers of falling in love with your own players.

I mean, outside their final four finish from last year, the Flyers simply don’t have a glittering resume. They struggled to make the play-offs last year, they’re a middle of the road seed this year. They have talent up front- so exactly where does the marginal play come from? Hint: maybe the defense isn’t all its cracked up to be? Maybe they don’t have a true elite first pairing, like say New Jersey?

Just sayin’, that is all. But add that to a pretty average goaltender, and a probable tough first round draw, the Flyers could be better than last year- but not get out of the first round.