Monday, May 12, 2008

Where Things Stand in Flyers-Pens

We could have posted over the weekend about the games, but it was more fun to let the comments section build up on Sam's post while the Pens did a little on-ice commenting of their own. To sum up the weekend:

- Biron is not a goaltending god
- Mike Richards is quite good
- Malkin may have more natural hockey talent than anyone in the world (see: Game 1)
- If the Flyers just want to hammer away at Malkin, then Crosby, Hossa, Malone, and the role players are going to get better chances (see: Game 2)
- Derian Hatcher's ice time in Game 2: 28:31
- Again, 28:31

Yes, the injuries to Timonen and Coburn obviously deplete the Flyers D, but it isn't a deep unit to begin with. Consider a hypothetical where the Pens lost one of their defenseman in a game (with Eaton already out, mind you) and we had to to pick five of these guys to finish out the game with Sydor getting dressed for Game Three: Gonchar, Letang, Scuderi, Gill, Whitney, Orpik. With the exception of Whitney perhaps, all six are playing top notch defense. Depth pays off, especially in the playoffs. The Flyers are going to have to either get more out of what they have, collapse the forwards back a little, or think of some other strategy to help out an injury-plagued unit that was never terribly impressive to begin with.

The performance of the Flyers forwards isn't helping the cause either. As of Sunday, Vaclav Prospal was sitting alone in 5th for the playoff scoring leaders. Is he playing in this series? Is Briere?

The Flyers can hold serve at home and all these concerns become moot. Scott Burnside employs the "aw-gee-shucks-the-bounces-aren't-going-our-way" logic here, and maybe he is right. There is still plenty of time for the bounces to go the Flyers' way. But such logic is often a veil for what is the real story. Steelers fans blamed special teams units for losing AFC Championship games because it was much easier than facing the reality that our quarterback was Kordell Stewart and that he was never going to win a Super Bowl. Pirates fans blame Littlefield, Tracy, McClendon, and whomever else because it is easier than coming to terms with the soul-rotting financial infrastructure of baseball.

The Flyers defensive woes and endless turnovers are no doubt results of the injuries they've suffered on the defensive front. But don't let injury-related excuses obscure the real story: a team that has a PIM-accruing 35 year old defenseman playing half the game in the Eastern Conference Finals probably had defensive issues long before any injuries took place.

5 comments:

Ruuuu said...

Great points. Its always nice to see an asshole like Hatcher screw up too. His penalty lead to Hossa's goal and I believe he was on the ice for the Talbot goal. I love it.

If we can win game 3 is it safe to start talking about breaking the Oiler's record of 16-3 in a postseason?

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

I do see the Penguins cruising through the Flyers in 4, but I could easily see the Penguins going 7 with the Red Wings.

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the Red Wings are not selling tickets to their playoff games...There are plenty of empty seats each game, and apparently hockey town has lost its mojo.

If I remember correctly, Detroit isn't that hard of a city for Pittsburghers to get to.

Not that it matters at all, but the 76ers didn't sell out their basketball playoff game either...maybe the Flyers games have tickets available too...

Wieters said...

So where have all the Flyers trolls gone? Where's the trash-talking now?

Something tells me they'll be back here in droves if the Flyers win Game 3...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, seriously, how nice of all the Flyers fans to stick around.

Anonymous said...

Remember that time that the Flyers fans thought they were going to take it in 6?