Carbonneau isn't the only person showing no respect to the Flyers. The Capitals, the NHL media, and most fans have downed the way the team plays. The Flyers are a team that will allow you to possess the puck in their end on the perimeter. They will even let you shoot, however when they are on their game, you cannot bring the puck into the slot area without severe punishment. And during the last few weeks of the season and playoffs, they have been on their game. Only a few of the very fleet players will chase. Hatcher and Smith are smart enough to let the play come to them in the high scoring areas.
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The other key point is that every player on the Flyers roster is willing to be hit. If you watch the game closely, on 50/50 pucks the Flyer will always go to the wall first to move the puck, even if a big hit is coming. It doesn't matter if the puck is in the offensive or defensive zone. I have witnessed this all season. Many of the other teams prefer to let the Flyer go for the puck and deliver a hit. This shows the courage of the Flyers overall. Another key factor is the fact that every player will block shots on this team. Some teams have a few guys that do it regularly, but find me other teams where the overwhelming majority of the top forwards slide and block shots. I can only think that Briere and Prospal are not really shot blockers. Everyone else does it regularly.
These two points go to show that when evaluating the Flyers that you cannot look at shots on goal or hits. Neither is an indicator in the flow of the game. Holmgren has built a team that can score off the rush as good as anyone in the league, but can also win battles in the offensive zone and score with possession.
The addition of Coach Mullen has given the talented players a concept of an unstoppable unit on the powerplay. It appears to be just a "blue collar get it to the point and shoot" powerplay, but the point men (Richards, Timmonen, Coburn, Jones, Briere) can also all make highly skilled plays from the top to wide open players down low. Since these players are also all willing to blast away due to the presence of Knuble and Hartnell down low, it draws the defenders out and creates the pretty powerplay goals. If the defending team backs in, Richards and Timonen creep in and blast away with very hard accurate shots. This is a lethal combination and an example of "taking what the defense gives you" just like in football.
Overall this team is playing with a very detailed plan of keep pucks to the outside in their zone and take pucks into traffic at the offensive end. A very good strategy especially in the playoffs. The goaltending is not complaining about anything, he is just stopping the pucks that come his way. Some goalies complain about shot blockers but Biron seems to be happy either way.
I know that the coaching staff is using this lack of respect for the team as further motivation privately. This is the 2nd straight series with a 3-1 lead, and yet the media is still talking how the other team still is right there. In the other 3-1 series, they are over!
Go Flyers, stay focussed. Win it in Montreal and get some much needed rest. Hopefully everyone will continue to doubt you in the next round and beyond!
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