Michael DeNicola

03/28/11

 

Just after a Saturday night when the Flyers seemed to be getting their goal scoring and goaltending back on track, they skate out onto the ice against the Bruins last night and left every Bullies fan shaking their heads once again. 

My sore neck's not from sleeping on it wrong or headbanging to Metallica. It's from balancing a head that's turned side to side more often than Wilt Chamberlain unbuckled his belt

 

There was something to smile about all day on Saturday; The weather was beautiful, no work the next day (for some of us), the Flyers were on the Island and James van Riemsdyk tallied his first ever NHL hat trick which was immediately followed by thousands of Philadelphia invaders and their hats being thrown into the rink. 

The Orange & Black broke away from their prior consecutive four game shootout streak after burying the Islanders 4 - 1 in their first regulation win since March 15th. The next day [Sunday] was a different story.

Coming out of the gates was Kris Versteeg who netted his 20th goal this season. Once that feat was accomplished, the Flyers now have six players with 20 or more goals scored, the most any team in the NHL can say they have this year. 

Too bad none of the other five tacked on to the score and/or their resumes. Versteeg's tip-in was Philadelphia's only lit lamp of the evening and the remaining 55-minutes and 15-seconds were spent turning the puck over almost a couple dozen times. 

Before the puck dropped at center ice, news broke that Brian Boucher was getting the start between the pipes. Boosh wound up having a great night in net stopping the shots he was supposed to and bailing out a defensive in front of him who decided making blind passes for turnovers was a bright idea. 

Brian gandalf'd the rubber 34 out of 36 times, ending his 60-minutes with a respectable 0.944 SV%. Both pucks that met Boucher's twine came off of Boston's man advantage. One in the 2nd from Nathan Horton who wasted no time in the powerplay to tie the match up, and then another late in the 3rd which put the Flyers behind for the first time in the tilt thanks to Brad Marchand

Marchand's potted puck was the final steak through the Orange heart. Despite pulling Boucher from his net in the last minute, Philly was unable to build a chance on Tim Thomas' cage let alone a miraculous game tying goal. 

Seriously, the last minute when Boosh was pulled was probably one of the more confusing 60-seconds I've seen this season. You'd think if you're down by one on the scoreboard and you're skating six men against five, you'd get psyched up enough to do SOMETHING. 

But the Flyers stood around just holding the puck in their zone or crossing Boston's blue line with no chemistry in the least winding up having their "chances" cleared almost instantly. 

When the final buzzer sounded, the Fly Guys left the rink but not without hearing it from the hometown crowd. Boo Birds reigned over their heads as the frustrated attendance expressed their displeasure. 

"First period, we had some passion, some energy," defenseman Andrej Meszaros said. "Then it disappeared for some reason. They did everything better than us." ~ Flyers ReCap

 

How long is that excuse going to hold water? You mean to tell me our boys came out and DID NOT play a full 60-minutes again? Surprise, surprise. 

"It's just little things we need to correct," Richards said. "We need to be more consistent."  ~ Flyers ReCap

 

More consistent? You must first become consistent before you can be MORE consistent, Richie. However our captain's correct about the "little things" he highlighted. Even though this squad's shown less consistensy over the past 15 tilts than the hide of a porcupine, I still believe this team's worst enemy is themselves. 

They've found ways of beating themselves more regularly recently than they have all season long. It's no secret they've had trouble playing with leads all of 2010-11, but at leas they were still etching W's in the win column. 

Last night's loss was no doubt at the hands of the turnovers. Their own blind passes cut the Flyers throats and Boston simply capitalized. It's what good, contending opponents do. So if by correcting the "little things" Richards meant "we need to cut the fancy shit and get back to dominating the basics of the game", then I couldn't agree more. 

 

Once the game finished I needed to vent some steam. What better person to turn to than PhillyReign's own Tyler J. Altemose?

I told him how frustrated I was, but when I'm all hot headed....I become incapable of expressing rational argument. But this is where Tyler's a friggin wizard...

He then replies to me with this gem that I couldn't agree more with:

"The team has fundamental issues to work on. Don't pass blindly or behind the back under any circumstances. Watch your stick. Be quick on the transition. These are problems that, if fixed, will result in markedly better performances.

The Flyers play ATL, NJD, OTT, BUF and NYI. These are games the Flyers can and need to win to solidify their positioning."

 

Precisely. Couldn't have put it better myself. It further proves my initial argument which is that the Flyers create their own obstacles. Instead of the "goal scoring being hot and the goaltending not" one game, and another where the "goaltending's hot and the goal scoring is not", this team needs to click universally in a full 60-minutes. Given this team's circumstances and roster, I firmly believe they're capable of doing so. But first, they each need to get on the same page. 

Good night. Good hockey.