Thursday, May 06, 2010

We Need Some Goals

It is hard to be angry at the Flyers’ effort in this series, now down 3-0 in games to Boston. They competed in the must-have match last night: got chances, outshot the Bruins (35-20) badly.

Nevertheless, the old Flyers- the team that was .500 for the entire season, the team that is no way one of the top four teams in the NHL- has reasserted itself in the face of the Bruins grinding, disciplined, good goal-tending effort. Philadelphia gets mostly decent, better than deserved goaltending, the top four defensemen are quite “good” but not top five squads in the NHL style “great”, the forward depth is consistently ravaged by injuries. When healthy up front, they are no disgrace- probably in the top dozen outfits in the NHL, capable of eliminating a play-off outfit with issues (New Jersey: they can’t score).

But the Flyers are trying to get to the best four teams in hockey right now. The new measuring stick is substantial. What part of their team- forwards, goalie, or defense- is top-four quality? And yes, after dispatching the Sabres and Flyers, Boston can lay a truthful claim to "top four playing right now".

Look at the twelve forwards the Flyers dressed last night (list here-page down a bit). How many are even definitely above average? Or further, would play on the top two lines for a top four team (like Chicago, San Jose)?

Richards definitely. Giroux. Maybe Briere (maybe- he is a -25 in his time in Philadelphia). No one else. No wonder Philadelphia has only three goals from forwards other than Briere and Richards. This lack of forward talent- particularly guys who can carry the puck- makes Boston's trap even more awful. Did you notice the third period was as boring as the old Devil's match-ups back in the 90s? Same trap, same immobile forwards.

Of course, Philadelphia has three quality forwards out, including two on the above list, currently scratched for various maladies. That is probably what is missing here to make this series credible. I’m not saying the Flyers would be winning this series- but they probably aren’t looking at getting swept either. The NHL Power Play tournament does require some luck in keeping people upright and productive over these eight weeks. Teams get bounced all the time for running out of gas and players. Philadelphia is a pretty good team when healthy, only okay when banged up. Their time is probably up.

Lastly, I'm going to add a new blog to the BlogRoll: Broad Street Hockey. I've enjoyed it through the play-offs.