Line Changes: I see that the Flyers are looking for a spark out of a few players on the offense. Other than Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux, the entire Flyers offense has been rotating sporadically around the locker room – but not at a fast enough rate. The defense has chipped in at times at a rate much higher than last year. Of the Flyers 3 centers (Carter, Richards, and Giroux) only Giroux is a true playmaking, passing center. If you want to get Hartnell and Gagne some offensive help, flank them around Claude. Carter scores virtually on his own since his speed and shot are among the best in the game. Richards scores no matter who he plays with because he outworks the others on the ice. I suggest the lines be juggled as shown here.
Powe – Carter – Briere
JVR – Richards – Asham
Gagne – Giroux – Hartnell
Carcillo – Betts – Lapierre
This accomplishes moving Gagne and Hartnell away from the top defense pair and moves them toward the 3rd pair more often. By moving them away from the top guys and putting them with Claude Giroux who is a true passer of the puck.
Defensemen: The Flyers have 4 and half defensemen. Toleffsen is constantly on the ice for pressure against and goals. Versus the Islanders he allowed Oposo to drive him right into the crease and the puck dribbled across to an open stick. He has to stand his ground as close to the blue line as possible and stop the puck carrier, but he backs in until the guy stops near the net to hit. They should dress Pyrola and play him as part of the 3rd pair at times. If Syvret isn’t close to return yet they should go to a 4 man rotation on defense (Carle – Pronger / Timonen – Coburn) and spot Bartulis in for shifts during the game. OKT should just open and close the door for the line changes. With Richards playing the point on the power play you can control the ice time of some of the guys easier.
New System: I really like the 2 man fore-check system that they are using under Laviolette. The pressure in the offensive zone and center ice is great. When they are skating and turning pucks over they look unbeatable. However, when the other team starts pinching hard in the offensive zone the Flyers have trouble getting the puck out. Is this a factor of the system or just a bad application of the system by the Flyers? The key to the Flyers is puck possession. When they control the puck with short simple plays they play great – when they try the long passes and fancy drops in the neutral zone – they lose control of the game. Their game is predicated on cycling the puck in the offensive zone and turning the puck over at center ice. They need to keep the forwards deep in the defensive zone to provide outlet passes. When they get too far ahead, the defense is forced to go for the home run pass or chip it off the glass. All of these are bad signs.
Game Recap: Flyers vs. Penguins. Thanks to a regional blackout to show a college basketball game, I only received 27 minutes of the Penguins vs. Flyers game. Thanks local NBC! I did get to watch the detailed highlights and while there were some bad calls, the Flyers had plenty of chances to win the game versus the backup goalie of the Penguins. For the first time since they showed up, the Flyers held both Malkin and Crosby in check and yet still couldn’t beat the Penguins. I am glad to hear the fire in Laviolette’s voice. He praised the Flyers for effort, said they could have won the game with a better power play and penalty kill, but still stuck up for his guys with respect to the officiating.
Game Recap: Flyers vs. Thrashers. I have the game on Tivo, but haven’t yet watched it. I am taking classes and listened to the 3rd period implosion on the way home from class. I want to go back and see the 2nd period and the moves by young Claude Giroux. I am concerned that this group can play such stellar hockey and then a single play can set them into panic mode. They had a 2 goal lead against a team that they owned in recent history and yet one quick goal turned the game around.
Game Recap: Flyers vs. Islanders. Flyers win the game 2-1. Neither team controlled the puck in dangerous positions on the ice in the 3rd period much. The Islanders had the puck along the wall a lot and the Flyers played “hot-potato” with the puck much of the period. With less than 15 seconds left, Emery gave the puck away and caused a mad scramble in front before the puck was cleared for the final time. The Flyers thought they made it 3-0 in the 2nd period on a goal by Timonen, but Hartnell was called for goalie interference by the high referee after the play. While on super slow motion replay you can see this was the correct call, I cannot recall a center ice referee overturning a good goal call by the goal line referee before. Quickly after this goal was disallowed the Islanders scored on a nice play by Okposo and Bailey and an equally awful play by Tollefsen on defense. However the Flyers did not go into panic mode after the goal and just continued to keep the play along the wall. Carcillo made an impact on the game with his agitating style.
Emery played very steady today and is controlling the puck in front better as he rounds back into game shape. Several times on open shots he made the save and there was no rebound or something right in front for him to play.
Until next time….Good night and good hockey!