#37| Apr. 4, 2013| Flyers at Maple Leafs| 7:00 p.m. ET
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04-05-2013, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Oh how I'd missed seeing my beloved Flyers live and in the flesh
Flyers have become so much more active with their sticks in the defensive zone, on the PK and on the forecheck. The results show.
Whether it was out of necessity because of the injuries or deliberately because of a talking to from above, Lavi has finally altered/modified his system to accommodate the personnel on the ice. The "D" aren't pinching nearly as much as before and overall the Flyers look to be incorporating a more traditional approach to team D. The results show.
The PP frankly looks awesome: The crispness of the passes, the movement of the skaters, Simmonds/Hartnell creating/making space up front. Irregardless of this season's outcome, this variation of the PP will be lethal next season as well. It's very difficult to defend and you see, not just guys like Kimmo and G but everyone making in game reads and adjustments to the other team's defensive positioning.
Some guys really caught my attention last night: Gervais, both Schenns, Couts. Taking Brayden out of the conversation, the other three seem to have taken a page from the Pronger/Kimmo school "Rocking Chair" style D. I was really impressed with all 3's defensive poise and positioning last night. I was very impressed with Brayden Schenn last night. His game is starting to blossom into that projected gritty two-way Mike Richards type player as advertised. His emergence really anchors that 2nd line and caused fits for the Leafs defensive matchups. You can also see the immediate benefits for a guy like G and the top line in terms of the other team unsure on who to pair assign to what line. Again, looking forward, our top 6 is starting to come together and when you factor in their ages, the Flyers top 2 lines are going to be lethal for years to come.
I think, on some level, the injuries are a mixed blessing. A player like "Gus" is a classic example of a guy who's going to have growing pains and potential costly turnovers right in front of your eyes but he's also a guy that needs the minutes at the NHL level to overcome those mistakes and break through. You can see Gus analyzing the play both on and off the ice and learning as the game goes along. Management and coaching have to show him more patience and make a commitment to him. He's potentially a #3 D (a stretch, I know), I was very impressed with his play, instincts and hockey acumen last night.
There was a suggestion here a few nights ago that a certain type of criticism directed towards Bryz shows a lack of understanding towards the position. Well, that may be but I'm a former goalie who played at a very high level in Quebec, I've been around the game my whole life and I now coach minor hockey and I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two in my day. The one thing televised hockey, in almost all its years, has never conveyed to the viewer is body language. Sure, sometimes an announcer brings it up but when you're at a live game, it's so perceptible, almost ominous. I like Bryz, I really do. I'm a Flyers fan for a myriad of reasons, the least of which not being that the organization's history is riddled with colourful characters and outspoken minds. That being said, I cannot, for the life of me, as the expression goes, remember a goalie who's body language was as God awful as his. I was shocked as to how noticeable it is during the game, during the TV timeouts. During the first intermission, I ran into a friend who is the owner/operator of a local rink here in Toronto. That's all we could talk about. It's right there! You can see it on the player's faces, guys like Kimmo, even G, they don't like him and you can see they don't have any confidence in him and don't want to play for him. I'm sure some will cite fatigue but these Irish eyes are not mistaken, the body language doesn't lie, when you've been around the game you can spot when it's mental and not physical. Costly mistake tangents aside, he simply is not the guy for this team and it's right there for all to see. I have little doubt, after watching last night's game that Bryz is going to be bought out this summer and that a plan is most likely already in place.
All in all, It was a great game to have gone to. If they fall short of making the playoffs, if nothing else, this run has shown the direction we're headed, the strength of our offensive core and the priorities for the upcoming off season.
I can only imagine the euphoria and personal pride I would feel If I could see them play live each and every game.
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