Don't blame Marty Biron for this one.
Yes, the Flyers are a walking MASH unit.
Yes, John Stevens has had to patch lines together with duct tape and bailing wire.
Yes, Biron has issues with stopping breakaways and in shootouts.
All of the above are true. But the simple fact of the matter is this:
The Flyers defense stunk out the joint tonight
I don't care if you dragged Patrick Roy, Bernie Parent and Terry Sawchuck in their primes and put them in net tonight the Flyers they STILL wouldn't have been able to overcome the absolutely horrid defense exposed tonight by the Buffalo Sabres. Flyers' defenders allowed Sabre forwards to walk in untouched, allowed them to set up shop on the doorstep and cruise unimpeded and uncovered through the slot. This was gut check time and the defense came up very small.
For whatever reason, this team has real issues covering men in their own zone and tonight it was laid out for all to see. Sometimes it looks like the gap between forward and defender is too large and sometimes it looks like simply blown coverages and a lack of awareness; but whatever the reason, the end result is often the opponent's puck snapping the twine at the back of our net.
The Flyers failed, yet again, to get the first goal in the game. The redirection of Tallinder's slap shot by Jason Pominville set the tone just over one minute into the game.
Max Afinogenov absolutely undressed Jaroslov Modry on the Sabres' second goal of the game. He took the puck and sped up the wing and went right around the ?injured? defenseman. At that point, he made a great move to take Biron 5 hole. Would he have scored if Modry actually impeded his forward progress? I guess we'll never know.
The issue of too large a gap between the forwards and the defense bit them again on Derek Roy's game winner as he slid behind the defense and potted the breakaway against a defenseless Marty Biron. Could Marty have done a better job one-on-one? Maybe, but it shouldn't have gotten to that point in the first place.
The 4th goal by Jason Pominville was a breakdown in coverage on a redirection off the pass from Nolan Pratt. The 5th goal should have been stopped by Biron as Afinogenov went around the net and nailed the short side, but that was merely closing the barn door after the horse had already gone.
The Flyers' defenders look slow to recognize the play as it unfolds when 5-on-5. There seems to be a lack of situational awareness that prevents players from getting to the spot where they can impact the play. I don't know if it lack of maturity in the younger Dmen or loss of a step in the older defensemen. One thing I do know is that the Flyers should have tried harder to trade Jason Smith at the deadline. For as much as I love the type of game Gator plays, (he has the heart of a warrior, plays hurt and lays his body out every game), he just simply is not mobile enough. He was a -3 for the game in only 17 minutes and change.
Yes, this was only one loss. We still hold the 8th spot and we have the Lightning and Isles later this week. There is still plenty of hockey to be played. BUT,
this was a chance to make a definitive statement, to grab the brass ring and put our foot on the neck of a rival. We failed to do it. Chances like this are fleeting and we did not take the opportunity when it presented itself.
As I watched this game unfold to its dreary end, I couldn't help but think how Brian Campbell would have looked in Orange and Black. I also couldn't help but feel like these were two ships passing in the night and that the Flyers were headed into the fog of obscurity. Yes, the Flyers still hold the 8th seed in the East. But as I switched off the TV, the thought in my head was simply...but for how long?
Thanks for reading...