Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What is the Formula?

I don’t really know what to say about this Flyers 2-0 hole to the Bruins. Philadelphia is banged up bad up front (three of their top nine forwards are out). So, for two games in a row, a decent effort forged by demanding ice time for the remaining wingers, wore out late- leading to a pair of one-goal losses: one in overtime, then late in the third period. Somewhere in the spectrum of “played well enough to steal one” and “did not play well enough to steal one”, the Flyers fell just short of the former.

Consequently, they are playing two lines: Briere, Giroux and Richards played over twenty minutes. They dressed three forwards who didn’t see seven minutes of ice time: Arron Asham, Jared Ross, Andreas Nodl. Note: if Asham is only fit to play six minutes after dressing for 72 regular season games, scratch him and find someone you trust to play. Perhaps the most damning indictment of the forward rotation is watching Scott Hartnell play himself out of the League (a -5 with zero goals in the play-offs, after a horrid regular season) yet almost skate twenty minutes last night. Hartnell contributes nothing offensively for months- and still, because of the penalties, was on the power play last night.

The NHL play-offs are about finding a recipe for success you can repeatedly execute. The script against the Devils- get competent play from the top four defensemen and goalie and the Devils cannot score enough to win- isn’t working here.

The Bruins can score some- their recipe to get to three goals every night seems solid. In the first round, the Flyers defense and Boucher shut the Devils down- but since the Devils were poor offensively, the question remained just how much was actual Flyers’ competence and great goaltending? So far, it seems the Flyers have a competent goalie and blueline rotation- but nothing that is going to steal a series. So the Flyers need to score some here too- but other than Briere, Richards and Giroux- the goals aren’t forthcoming. Zdeno Chara doesn’t seem to shut down the Flyers top forwards- but he and his peers seem death on the second and third tier. Chara is a plus two thru two games- and if your top defensive pair is a plus matched up against the other teams top players, you’re winning more often than not.

You’re never done until you lose a home game- and the Flyers have not been outclassed, just out-worked late in games. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if coming home is a tonic for those woes- this isn’t a match-up problem, but a question of reinforcements. Perhaps in their own building the Flyers can get forwards like Nodl and Asham and Ross via the last change on the ice in situations they feel survivable- and cut the ice time for the top guys by a few minutes? That is kind of like pretend reinforcements.