The Bettman Point
NHL is not seeing parity in the league at the moment, the “close playoff races” have always existed in the NHL, and the big difference now is that the number of teams involved is increased due to the “Bettman Point”. This is the point that is given to a team that loses a game. Just take a look at the standings and subtract the OTL points from the overall points of each team. Look at the number of teams that have double digit OTL and are in the playoff race. Teams like Atlanta, NYR, NYI all have gained points on the Flyers by LOSING more games. As of writing this, Atlanta has a record of 33 wins and 42 loses…but 12 of the loses occurred in OT. So why would they be excited about a playoff run at 33 and 42???
Conversely, I do not think the Flyers are contenders either. The contenders for the cup are Washington, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and maybe Buffalo from the East. From the West the contenders are Vancouver, Chicago, San Jose and Detroit.
Other than Jeff Carter and Mike Richards the Flyers have no consistent scorers on the roster. When these two are scoring, the Flyers win. When they go cold the likes of Hartnell, Gagne, Briere, Carcillo, Giroux and JVR are not solid NHL 2nd tier scorers this season. I say this season because last year most of this group were part of the most balanced scoring in the league. However with Hartnell slumping this year and not being able to replace Knuble’s touch, the team has become a perimeter scoring team only. This makes them very easy to defend when the pretty pass play isn’t working. Needs for next year is a “net presence” power forward. This could be Hartnell or JVR, but I look for Holmgren to make moves in this direction. Another year of Giroux and JVR in maturity will help.
The defense is built on Pronger and Timonen as the anchors of the blue line. Carle and Coburn should be able to plug in next to the top 2 to make a solid top 2 pairs. The 3rd pair is to be made up of a few young or journeymen types to fill the ice time. However this year, Coburn has regressed and Carle is making mistakes and turnovers. Parent has been a disappointment and has shown that he is not durable. Bartulis is young and mistake prone. Syvret appears solid but fragile also.
Wow where do I start? Ok Emery was the starter and great. He got hurt. Boucher started and played well, but the team sucked in front of him. He got hurt. Leighton claimed off waivers. Becomes the starter, plays solid and then gets hurt. Boucher is the starter again. He cannot stop a beachball. They call up Backlund. He plays well for 2 periods. He gets hurt. Boucher is back as the starter. WHAT A MESS!!! I think Homer will go with Leighton and Emery next year. They will both be low cost options and Boucher will backup Backlund in the AHL. Eventually Backlund will be the guy…we just cannot be sure when.
The coach is set as is the GM. No changes will be made here. I think Holmgren has learned that the no movement clause is to be reserved for only the very special player. It limits the options of the manager and has rea1lly hindered him the last 2 seasons. I think with a training camp to install the system properly installed, the players will have a stronger foundation for next season.
Good Night and Good Hockey!
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BobHaynesJr