A Weekend of Success That'll Give Ya Heartburn
Everyone loves a nail-biting close game that's got your ass virtually hovering on the edge of its seat like a victim of too much Baja Fresh in a Port-O-John.
But considering the two division rivals the Flyers faced this weekend and their 2010-11 season record, the last thing any Orange fan needed were two back-to-back close calls.
Before Saturday afternoon, the Philadelphia Flyers once again seemed to awaken a seasonal Holiday tradition of short losing streaks and disappointing outcomes. Before hitting the ice with the New Jersey Devils, this seemed like just the weekend to begin digging out of that slump and getting back on track to winning games by high margins and great intensity.
Although our boys pulled off two wins in a row this weekend, they've left me feeling less than confident they're capable of defeating higher caliber opponents.
I don't know how many times I've said it so far this season, but we keep failing to play the full 60-minutes. We keep failing to finish on chances. And we certainly keep failing on the power play.
Granted, we won. I should be happy, and I am! But take a look at the next five games coming up;
Dec 8th - San Jose Sharks @ Philadelphia
Dec 9th - Philadelphia @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Dec 11th - Boston Bruins @ Philadelphia
Dec 14th - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia
Dec 15th - Philadelphia @ Montreal Canadiens
Two back-to-back series, and a game splitting between them. Look at our success thus far on back-to-back games (and not just the winning/losing records, but our play performance). It's shaky to say the least, and doesn't leave any one of us feeling confident and dauntless.
These next five games will be - for lack of a better word - battles. Battles that will undoubtedly be close wins or losses, or utter humiliation.
Remember, I'm only making these projections based off of how well we've played these past couple of weeks.
The defense is up and down. Some shifts/periods they look like the best shutdown blue line in the league, and at other times they look like they couldn't cut the head of the "Flying-V" from The Mighty Ducks.
Our forward lines have had their opportunities. Again, they can't finish. It doesn't help that every time we face a goalie it seems as if he's having the game of a lifetime, but we're hitting more posts than Manute Bull's head on a rollercoaster.
Chemistry and playmaking on our powerplay is about as absent as a clean diaper in a retirement home. It's been incredibly frustrating, not to mention that every time we go on the man advantage I make a dash to the bathroom to do my business because I write off any chances of a Flyers PP goal. The dump and chase has more than run its course considering nine times outta ten the puck's cleared in a blink of an eye.
Sergei Bobrovsky even had a few periods where he looked flaky. Not cold. Not fatigued. Just not himself.
In a nutshell, the Flyers are tied up in a slump but are still managing to stick high in the Conference standings. So even though we've been playing like shit, we're still gaining points. But how long can we keep this performance up and not severely pay for it?
Back to those next five games I mentioned; three of those teams (Penguins, Canadiens and Bruins) have faced us before and have embarrassed us to no end. Boston and Montreal shut us out, and the Penguins are always capable of putting on a clinic with Sidney Crosby at the helm.
You think we'll squeeze by them playing the way we did yesterday against the Islanders?
NO, sir! We'd be lucky if we walked off that ice and our assholes didn't whistle like a jug handle in the wind from all the raping.
Speaking of yesterday's game; did anyone else feel themselves about to drift off to sleep watching that tilt? Holy Pogo-Sticking Christ, I nearly tossed a basket of ice cubes down the front of my pants just to wake me up.
We lead (excitingly) all game long, 1 - 0, going into the 3rd period and then we let in two unanswered goals in just under 40-seconds from each other almost halfway through the period? Talk about a kick in the ass.
Thank God Laviolette decided to call another one of his "Get it done or I'll cut your nuts off" timeouts because it lit a fire under Andreas Nodl who tied the game up, and then Danny Briere who potted the GWG on a smooth wrister.
But ya see what I mean? The goddamn Islanders, for crying out loud. Did our confidence really need a close call against the poor man's New York Rangers? I say nay.
The next nine days are really going to spell out how this team reacts to bland outcomes.
Boston's net tender, Tim Thomas, has been touched by the finger of the hockey god and is playing out of his mind. "Out of his mind"? The understatement of the season.
Carey Price has turned the city of Montreal upside down with his play in net. Once subjected to hate from Canadien fanatics worldwide, Price is now their savior and praised like a Pharaoh.
Need I mention Sidney Crosby? The kid's sick. I mean, unstoppable. The Penguins have won nine effing games in a row and look to be the best team in the league according to everyone's rankings. And they're all correct. Regardless of our current regular season series success at 2 - 1 against them, Pittsburgh's found their groove and it's full steam forward. If the Flyers intend on stopping that train with abysmal powerplays, unstable defense, and an offense incapable of lifting the twine....then count on that record being 2 - 2 after Tuesday, December 14th.
I'm not forgetting about the Sharks or the Maple Leafs. Both are potentially trap games, and the Flyers have no business over looking either opponent.
Despite their 12th place standing in the West, San Jose's Danny Heatley is a Flyers killer. He's also part of that front line with Joe Thornton centering and Patrick Marleau at the mirroring wing position. These three are more than capable of racking up points in a game and unless our defensive play shuts them down for a full 60-minutes they could decide the loss for us.
I've seen enough interviews of Peter Laviolette discussing what he and the crew did during practice to better the powerplay. At this point, it's all white noise until the team achieves a consistent effort and success while on the man advantage.
Granted Andreas Nodl broke the PP-Dry Spell yesterday to tie up the match, but I'm going to need to see more in the next coming games to be convinced we've sewn up that divot.
The Flyers welcome San Jose into Philadelphia this Wednesday night at 7:00.
Grab your bottle of Pepto-Bismol and try not to blow a brain gasket, because the next few turns on this ride are gonna be bumpy.