This point in the season is possibly the worst time for there to be any doubt about whether or not the Flyers have bought into Laviolette's system.
The Flyers have 7 games left in the regular season. Yes, I agree with many that despite the Flyers recent struggles, they are still in better shape than they were at this time last season, which is commonly accompanied by the age old "Look how far they got." Ok, true. But they still didn't win the cup.
As it stands right now, I have questions not just about the effort and focus maintained by the players, but mostly whether or not everyone is on the same page regarding what kind of offense is being used. Yes Boston is a good defensive team and they don't give up a lot of goals, but that's really not the issue here. The amount of quality scoring chances was just unacceptable. The reason for this is because too many players are continuing to force the play.
Kris Versteeg and Danny Briere are both very skilled and important players to pretty much any team, but as of late, they continue to make decisions with the puck that will not create scoring opportunities against good defensive teams like the Bruins, Pens, etc. Andreas Nodl struggled with this for a few games before bouncing back. Giroux has also had similar issues with giving away the puck when he's trying to do too much to make a play. Too many turnovers = less time on the attack.
I understand that teams will give the puck away. That's how the game is played. But as we near the start of the playoffs, it is imperative that, in order to succeed, playoff teams completely and absolutely stand by the coach's system. Lately, the Flyers have not done that. It's what everyone has been talking about recently, this whole "only playing 20-30 minutes of solid hockey." Playing a full 60 minutes requires investment in the coach's system and implementation of said system every night for the entire night.
The Flyers will improve, the question is just a matter of whether that will happen in time to get those 12 playoff wins they need to get back into the Finals. Once they focus on upholding Lavy's system game in and game out, they will right where they need to be in the playoffs. Part of this, many believe, will improve with Chris Pronger's return to the lineup, which is luckily, not too far from now.
Yet another test will come the Flyers' way tomorrow night when they meet the Pens again in Pittsburgh. In the last 3 games, goaltending has been solid. The rest of the team just needs to not force the play, maintain the system and they should be on their way.
Sure, it sounds simple. We'll see...