Down the Rabbit Hole
Morpheus: I imagine that right now, you're feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.
Morpheus: I see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, that's not far from the truth.
The Philadelphia Flyers are tumbling down the rabbit hole. 17 heady days prior, the Orange and Black were pondering overtaking the Conference leading Ottawa Senators, the powerplay was hitting on all cylinders and the boys were winning games with a confidence that no matter what the score, that they would find a way to win.
Little more than a fortnight later...Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Much has been written, by the likes of Timmy P and Bill Meltzer, on the defeatist body language exhibited over the 10 consecutive losses. The Flyers are looking and playing like they are waiting for the other shoe to drop. They are playing without confidence, reacting to the play rather than initiating it and making simple mistakes that might have gotten many a coach fired.
You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes...
Morpheus: Remember... all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.
Even the designers of the Matrix could not imagine conjuring up something as evil, as insidious or as cruel as 10 consecutive losses. And yet...that's how deep the rabbit hole is thus far. Ten agonizing, franchise record tying losses in a row deep. Much like Alice, as she fell down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
, there appears to be no end in sight. With little more than 36 hours to go until the trade deadline, the Flyers have the tall task of trying to solve the Buffalo Sabres to prevent from inking the longest losing streak in team history into the annuls of Flyers' lore. No small feat.
Can they do it? Can they end the streak? Can they get the monkey off their collective backs by beating a Buffalo club that has pummeled the Flyers mercilessly in recent years? Yes. Will they? Quite a different matter. Makes you ask yourself...are the Flyers this bad? No. But, neither were they are good as they were playing when they were within a few points of the Sens.
Morpheus: How did I beat you?
What has hastened the Flyers' tumble down the rabbit hole?
Poor to atrocious defensive zone coverage that would make a Pee-Wee coach pull his hair out. Powerplay ineffectiveness (0-20 before the Briere PP goal vs the Panthers) that has illustrated how badly the Flyers cannot forcheck or score even up, ridiculous penalties taken at inopportune times, goalie play that ranges from outstanding to wha' happened? in the same shift. Yes this team is young and has shown it at times. Yes they are coming off the worst record in the league last year and played way above their heads for much of the first half. Yes they have been bitten by the injury bug in a way that is unbelievable, but injuries are part of the game. Yes Danny Briere has played well below the level expected in his first year in Philadelphia. All of the above is true.
And yet, they are STILL in this playoff morass and could still end up in the promised land IF they can get on track against the Sabres.
Tank: So what do you need? Besides a miracle.
Neo: Guns. Lots of guns.
If the Flyers are to make a run at the playoffs and redeem themselves, that redemption will likely need to be generated from #48. Briere has been much maligned in this town - and rightly so. He has played well below the level he is capable and I am quite sure he would readily admit to that. He has the skills to take this team and put it on his back. That task is much taller with the loss of Simone Gagne for the rest of the season and the left hammy tear of Mr. Everything, #18. This is the time when he must answer the call and elevate his game to another level. I firmly believe he can
do just that. He will have his chance tomorrow night against his former mates. This is the sort of situation that can define a player. Danny Briere can erase much of the bad kharma that has surrounded him for the past few months with a heady, gritty and skillful performance against the Sabres.
...sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.
Yes, other players will have to chip in, but without serious and meaningful contribution from Danny Briere, the Flyers' faithful might consider chalking this season up to a great learning experience for a young and vastly improved team. Danny...take the red pill.
The road to redemption, and the way out of this rabbit hole, begins in Buffalo.
Thanks for reading...
Take the red pill...LET'S GO FLYERS!