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The Philadelphia Flyers and our lack of Identity

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Old
02-21-2012, 11:38 AM
  #1
Jtown
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The Philadelphia Flyers and our lack of Identity

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but haven't felt motivated until now. This will be a long post that dives into a variety of issues with the team.



I would say right now this Flyers team is without a doubt one of the most talented team's I've ever seen us put together. With our recent additions on defense i feel on paper that this team has no weakness. We have arguably the best group of Forwards in the NHL. We have a defensive core that is under-performing as of now but is a top 10 unit and many teams across the league would love to trade their group of D men for ours. We have two talented goalies, one of which has proven in the past to play at a Vezina caliber level in the NHL and play at a gold medal level in International Play.


So I ask you, why has our season been filled with ups and downs and inconsistent play?

The reason why I believe we have struggled this season is because we lack identity.

Identity is important for many reasons. It gives you something to hang your hat upon. Going into each game we play, how are we going to win? Are we going to win 6-5 or are we going to win 2-1. One is a high scoring affair and one is a low scorning affair. This is where the Flyers lose their identity. We have the Forward group to win 6-5, we can role 3 scoring lines and a 4th that features 2 double digit goal scorers. And we have the defensive unit and goalies that can play a 2-1 game. However we don't have unison between the two styles and this faction is the cause of our inconsistent and often frustrating play.

A successful organization must have a identity and formula for success. The rangers know that their bread and butter is there great goaltending. They enhance that great goaltending with a defense that is capable and willing to block shots and not get caught out of position. The Bruins have that as well and on top of that a variety of talented two way forwards to Emphasize their defensive aspects. The Canucks have a talented Defenisve core with a Capable goalie. They also have a top scoring line , a 2nd line that features great two way play and a bottom 6 that are excellent defensive players.

All of these teams mentioned have some sort of unison between the forward group and the Defensive group. The Flyers on the other hand seem to me like a hodgepodge of talent thrown together hoping it works itself out without any sort of identity. Right now our personnel is extremely talented but not good enough to win.

It is almost impossible in today's hockey to try to win by rolling out 3 scoring lines. We need a more defensive minded forward core. Im fine with a first line of Giroux jagr and Hartnell. But a second line of Briere Voracek and Simmonds is not going to cut it. That unit is far to irresponsible defensively to win playoff hockey. On top of that a third line of schenn jvr and read is not a third line that can put together the type of grind them out shifts that are needed to win in the playoffs. A 4th line of talbot Couturier and Rinaldo is a good 4th line that can play defense and bring energy but lacks experience. This is why I feel like this year was a rebuilding year in some ways and I'm fine with not doing well in the playoffs since we have so many pieces that just seem off to me. Basically what im saying is we need a Third and Fourth line that can focus on the Defensive end and not get out of position trying to score.


To sum it all up, the flyers have a talented group of forwards but the pieces don't fit well together and they certainly do not predict playoff success.

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02-21-2012, 12:03 PM
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No. We need an entire team that is very responsible in our own end, not just two lines...

In addition? Enough with the dumb cross ice offensive zone passes that end up getting picked and sent the other way.

Our identity is press press hope we score.
IMO there will be no "winning" this year.

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02-21-2012, 12:24 PM
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You are way off on a few points:

1. This team has many issues. It is not even close to having no weaknesses on paper. The defense is not top 10, and the additions we recently made are nothing more than adequate players who do not have the ability to shift the way this team plays defensively. Carle, Mez, and Coburn are not what many of us thought they were or what they were on the verge of becoming. They have been unable to step up to the next level.

Ignoring the goaltending issue also smacks of willfull ignorance. There is a CLEAR issue there right now, whether or not that will straighten itself out. What kind of team won't have ups and downs and inconsistent results when unscreened wrist shots from the top of the circles are making their way into the net consistently?

2. The team is young up front. That is why the struggle in that facet and the absolute biggest reason for up and down play. Young players are inconsistent. Many people pointed this out before the season and it should not be a shock that it has come to fruition. This is the time of the year that the "wall" issue is encountered. Not sure why people are shocked by whats going on here

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02-21-2012, 12:43 PM
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A young team has troubles with consistency. You don't say?

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02-21-2012, 12:51 PM
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Their identity is one of a young team still in a transition year...we still have a good future and the present hasn't been all bad considering the loss of our best D man and a goalie who has mental issues...

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02-21-2012, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Coutsiephan View Post
Their identity is one of a young team still in a transition year...we still have a good future and the present hasn't been all bad considering the loss of our best D man and a goalie who has mental issues...
This exactly.

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02-21-2012, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Spongolium View Post
A young team has troubles with consistency. You don't say?
The defensive group and goaltending, which is almost entirely veteran, being inconsistent should worry you. This team doesn't have a clear path to contendership in the near future. Time alone won't fix the team's problems.

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02-21-2012, 01:57 PM
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I think what Laviolette has done to keep this team competitive has been nothing short of superb.

The lack of identity simply has to do with the fact that at one time, there were 7 rookies dressing for games. I can't think of any other team that had that many rookies in the lineup at one time. As a result, Laviolette has basically played run and gun or firewagon hockey.

I've talked to a few others who have talked about Laviolette's coaching philosophy and it's being considered as incredibly smart when you think of it. By playing run and gun, he's getting everyone in the lineup to play some serious minutes. From a development standpoint, the rookies are getting acclimated to the NHL game in an environment that keeps them interested and when Laviolette points out faults, they get it. At the same time, when Laviolette goes to put more of a defensive system in place, the younger players will buy into what he's saying and there's no fear of a revolt.

When you think of it, it's smart that Laviolette is catering to the younger players. Next year, those younger players will be more keen on playing a more defensive game and with their offensive games already being developed, they'll be ready to take the next step in becoming solid two way players.

The only sad thing about all of this was that Bryzgalov was supposed to lead the charge and be the backbone of the rebuilding game plan. He was supposed to be the rock that the team was built upon, but he's been nothing but sand. And that isn't to say Bobrovsky has been any better. Someone needed to step forward and both have failed miserably.

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02-21-2012, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DumpyD View Post
The defensive group and goaltending, which is almost entirely veteran, being inconsistent should worry you. This team doesn't have a clear path to contendership in the near future. Time alone won't fix the team's problems.
IT'S NOT THE BLUELINERS.

Turnovers have always existed.

Turnovers will always exist.

The goaltenders have to make saves, and the forwards need to stop putting added pressure on the defensemen by not knowing their defensive assignments/responsibilities.

This defense has been playing together for years. Watch the games a little more thoroughly and you can see that a lot of the problems with defensive positioning and turnovers comes from rookie mistakes by young/new forwards in Laviolette's system.

That and Bryzgalov is flat out atrocious in half of his games.

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02-21-2012, 02:06 PM
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So we are going to play run and gun and then finger the goalies when they get hung out to dry...

I'd rather just play a defensive system from the start. IMO Lavi hasn't done a good job of adapting to our personnel.

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02-21-2012, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Shafer View Post
IT'S NOT THE BLUELINERS.

Turnovers have always existed.

Turnovers will always exist.

The goaltenders have to make saves, and the forwards need to stop putting added pressure on the defensemen by not knowing their defensive assignments/responsibilities.

This defense has been playing together for years. Watch the games a little more thoroughly and you can see that a lot of the problems with defensive positioning and turnovers comes from rookie mistakes by young/new forwards in Laviolette's system.

That and Bryzgalov is flat out atrocious in half of his games.
I kind of agree with this. Turnovers and defensive breakdowns are going to happen, but good defensive play starts with the goalies making routine saves.

I feel like it's easy to see when a goalie is hung out to dry by the defense but much harder to catch when the defense is put in a hopeless situation. For example, if two d-men are left to cover 3 guys down low, of course they are going to look like they are out of place when they are scrambling from man to man trying to cover whoever the immediate threat is. However, the real fault would be in the forward who should be covering the third man but is instead chasing the puck carrier or just drifting at an assigned place on the ice without having good defensive awareness of other players around him.

With that being said there is definitely room for our defense to improve. Hopefully Grossman can make Coburn and Meszaros remember how to push guys out of the crease or box out to protect rebounds.

But it really comes down to Bryz and Bob. It doesn't matter how stacked your team is on paper, if your goalies are letting in 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4...) soft, backbreaking goals a game you aren't going to win consistantly. Think about how the Jordan Staal goal completely changed that game. They went from being ahead 2-1 with a man advantage to tied and frustrated. When a player is frustrated they make more mistakes (like not hustling to gather a puck when it was cleared out of the zone on a 5 on 3 powerplay).

I know a lot of people say that the goalies aren't the only problem and they aren't. But I feel like if Bryz/Bob were playing at even a barely acceptable level a lot of the other problems on the team would begin to fix themselves or at least be much less noticeable.

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02-21-2012, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dawkins121 View Post
I kind of agree with this. Turnovers and defensive breakdowns are going to happen, but good defensive play starts with the goalies making routine saves.

I feel like it's easy to see when a goalie is hung out to dry by the defense but much harder to catch when the defense is put in a hopeless situation. For example, if two d-men are left to cover 3 guys down low, of course they are going to look like they are out of place when they are scrambling from man to man trying to cover whoever the immediate threat is. However, the real fault would be in the forward who should be covering the third man but is instead chasing the puck carrier or just drifting at an assigned place on the ice without having good defensive awareness of other players around him.

With that being said there is definitely room for our defense to improve. Hopefully Grossman can make Coburn and Meszaros remember how to push guys out of the crease or box out to protect rebounds.

But it really comes down to Bryz and Bob. It doesn't matter how stacked your team is on paper, if your goalies are letting in 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4...) soft, backbreaking goals a game you aren't going to win consistantly. Think about how the Jordan Staal goal completely changed that game. They went from being ahead 2-1 with a man advantage to tied and frustrated. When a player is frustrated they make more mistakes (like not hustling to gather a puck when it was cleared out of the zone on a 5 on 3 powerplay).

I know a lot of people say that the goalies aren't the only problem and they aren't. But I feel like if Bryz/Bob were playing at even a barely acceptable level a lot of the other problems on the team would begin to fix themselves or at least be much less noticeable.
There are a lot of people who don't understand our system.

Goalies could look like superstars in Philadelphia under Laviolette before because our team was so perfectly constructed for Lavi's system.

I don't know how many people have played Lacrosse or Hockey, but shifting is a big function in both when you're a defensive player. Lavi's system is heavy on defensive mobility and shifting.

So, all those times you see us putting ungodly pressure in the offensive zone, it's because of Laviolette's system.

Well, we used to get away with it flawlessly because of Richards and Carter down the middle. They worked very well in the system as far as being able to shift into a defensive position and play a role that a defenseman would normally play in a different system. Basically everyone knew every assignment with the load of the defensive play getting placed on the center while the wings locked up the neutral zone.

Well we were so good before, to the point of sheer domination, because not only did our forwards play this system well, but we had all world defensive depth when Pronger was here so that any little slip up was pretty much routinely taken care of.

That's how Leighton looked like a god.

Now that Carter and Richards are not here we're relying on Giroux and Schenn to carry the load defensively as the centers. It's that or Briere, and quite frankly, I'm not interested in letting Briere be counted on for defensive play within Lavi's system.

Giroux is just solid, not great like Richards and Carter. Schenn is decent but has some growing to do. On top of that Laviolette refuses to use Talbot or Couturier in those roles; Talbot because he's more helpful on the wing if he's going to be playing above the fourth line and Couturier because he doesn't want to rush him.

Now because of that more pressure is put on the defensemen to carry assignments that they would not have necessarily had to carry before. This leads to turnovers and blown assignments, not because our defensemen are any worse than they've been in the past but because there is a significant amount of pressure added to them.

Now take away Pronger as the safety net.

It certainly doesn't help that, knowing all of this was going to happen, Holmgren went out and got a goaltender who was supposed to back us up. We knew we were going to lose pieces that helped us substantially defensively. Bryzgalov was going to make it so that it didn't matter. He was supposed to cover our defensive blunders that were sure to arrive as the growing pains of a young team and a young forward core in a new system.

Well Bryzgalov just didn't deliver.

That's where we're at today, and people really need to understand exactly what's going on. Throwing the blame around without actually understanding the dynamics of the game doesn't help.


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Old
02-21-2012, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by achdumeingute View Post
So we are going to play run and gun and then finger the goalies when they get hung out to dry...

I'd rather just play a defensive system from the start. IMO Lavi hasn't done a good job of adapting to our personnel.
There have been way more softer goals than Bryz has been hung out to dry. I think it starts with his soft goals, then this team falls apart.

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02-21-2012, 03:15 PM
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It's amazing how every thread ends up being about goaltending.

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02-21-2012, 03:17 PM
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Chris, i agree with what you say almost 100% until you bring up bryz.

He's not part of the solution, but he's not the 100% problem. His lack of "delivering" isn't why we are where we are...

Even last year, with Richards and Carter we hung our goalies out to dry far too often.

The problem I have with the Flyers is that our entire focus is scoring goals...when we don't do this...we don't play team defense well enough to hang.

Heck look at the pit game. 0 fer on 6 pps (or something) we pot 2 of those in the 2nd and the game is likely totally different.

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02-21-2012, 03:18 PM
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There have been way more softer goals than Bryz has been hung out to dry. I think it starts with his soft goals, then this team falls apart.
You and I totally disagree.

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02-21-2012, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by achdumeingute View Post
Chris, i agree with what you say almost 100% until you bring up bryz.

He's not part of the solution, but he's not the 100% problem. His lack of "delivering" isn't why we are where we are...

Even last year, with Richards and Carter we hung our goalies out to dry far too often.

The problem I have with the Flyers is that our entire focus is scoring goals...when we don't do this...we don't play team defense well enough to hang.

Heck look at the pit game. 0 fer on 6 pps (or something) we pot 2 of those in the 2nd and the game is likely totally different.


Honestly, I'm a huge supporter of Laviolette's system, and thanks to Holmgren, we're one of the very few teams that can run something like it. It's one that more Western Conferences teams run.

I think Holmgren also did well in retooling for it. He acquired Schenn to play a heavy defensive role. He expected Giroux to be better defensively. And when Couturier was available, he pulled the trigger immediately.

Our system can rip other teams to shreds when it's done perfectly. It gives us offense while still remaining almost as defensively responsible as other teams.

Unfortunately, right now we don't have the proper personnel to run it perfectly as we used to. We need some of our players to develop more.

Bryzgalov was supposed to make it so that we could be a little more lax in the personnel department while some of the younger guys developed.

Bryzgalov has since failed all expectations, even the reserved and conservative ones held by myself and many others here on these boards.


As far as Richards and Carter hanging goalies out to dry toward the end of their careers in Philadelphia, I think they both had subpar seasons last year after the second half. We all know something was going on that forced them out of Philly. Even if we don't know what, we can guess it had an impact on their play and thus the team's play as a whole.

Before that point (end of 2009-10, start of 2010-11) we were almost unstoppable thanks to Lavi's system.

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02-21-2012, 03:39 PM
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Before that point (end of 2009-10, start of 2010-11) we were almost unstoppable thanks to Lavi's system.
Yea we had about a year of that play....I think lavis system can be grading on players...saw this in NYI and in car. It's hard to give that effort for 82 games...

IMO giroux isn't solid on D, he's bad...but he tries and I think he will get better. He's still young...hopefully he wants it...

I don't know the coaches...and what they train...but lord I'd pay a guy like rod brindamour buckets of
money to be a coach and an influence on young players here...I hate he's a hurricane lifer...

I dont think any goalie is going to succeed with this current playstyle and our lack of execution in our own end. A "better" goalie might have won a few more games...but we'd still be all offense or bust mentality.

Losing pronger, gagne, Richards, carter definately hasn't helped.

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02-21-2012, 03:43 PM
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Yea we had about a year of that play....I think lavis system can be grading on players...saw this in NYI and in car. It's hard to give that effort for 82 games...

IMO giroux isn't solid on D, he's bad...but he tries and I think he will get better. He's still young...hopefully he wants it...

I don't know the coaches...and what they train...but lord I'd pay a guy like rod brindamour buckets of
money to be a coach and an influence on you players here...I hate he's a hurricane lifer...

I dont think any goalie is going to succeed with this current playstyle and our lack of execution in our own end. A "better" goalie might have won a few more games...but we'd still be all offense or bust mentality.

Losing pronger, gagne, Richards, carter definately hasn't helped.
I'm sorry, but I think bold is completely wrong.

We're not an offense or bust mentality, we are a constant pressure mentality. Part of that requires that forwards and defense play the system perfectly in terms of timing and positioning.

To be perfectly frank, we haven't been playing Laviolette's system all that badly with the new guys. We started off very well in fact before a few other injuries crept in.

Most of my nonsense about us not playing Laviolette's system perfectly is more over-exaggerated than anything. Yes, we aren't playing it perfectly, but we're still playing it well enough to compete for the division and go deep in the playoffs.

Bryzgalov has failed us. Simple as that. The amount of games he's lost for us is absolutely inexcusable. If it was Leighton, then okay, we picked our poison. At 5.67m/year, Bryzgalov's play is outright inexcusable.

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02-21-2012, 03:56 PM
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I'm sorry, but I think bold is completely wrong.

We're not an offense or bust mentality, we are a constant pressure mentality. Part of that requires that forwards and defense play the system perfectly in terms of timing and positioning.

To be perfectly frank, we haven't been playing Laviolette's system all that badly with the new guys. We started off very well in fact before a few other injuries crept in.

Most of my nonsense about us not playing Laviolette's system perfectly is more over-exaggerated than anything. Yes, we aren't playing it perfectly, but we're still playing it well enough to compete for the division and go deep in the playoffs.

Bryzgalov has failed us. Simple as that. The amount of games he's lost for us is absolutely inexcusable. If it was Leighton, then okay, we picked our poison. At 5.67m/year, Bryzgalov's play is outright inexcusable.
hey we can agree to disagree. IMO its very goalie unfriendly as a system if the 5 men are not giving great effort.

IMO...once the puck gets into a high quality scoring area I take alot of blame off of the goalie.

We don't protect the triangle in front of our net adequately at all, and I'll agree it's the forwards that have been letting us down on defense...not our d core.

The most telling thing with bryz has been his stats in his wins vs losses.

Now...I don't like his contract, and wouldnt have signed him. I was fine growing with bob and then targeting a Vet at the deadline this year.

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02-21-2012, 04:00 PM
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hey we can agree to disagree. IMO its very goalie unfriendly as a system if the 5 men are not giving great effort.

IMO...once the puck gets into a high quality scoring area I take alot of blame off of the goalie.

We don't protect the triangle in front of our net adequately at all, and I'll agree it's the forwards that have been letting us down on defense...not our d core.

The most telling thing with bryz has been his stats in his wins vs losses.

Now...I don't like his contract, and wouldnt have signed him. I was fine growing with bob and then targeting a Vet at the deadline this year.
I'm pretty sure that at least 1/3 if not 1/2 of Bryz's goals against this year are from bad positions on the ice, unscreened shots, or just straight up poor rebound control. Let's not even bring up his absurdly bad record in shootouts.

That's on Bryz.

Cut Bryz's GAA by 1/3 or even 1/2 and figure out how many more wins we have.

I'm not saying Bryz has to be perfect, but he can't be letting up that many bad goals.

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02-21-2012, 04:16 PM
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No he's been poor at Shootouts (which is a better showing of a goalies ability than gaa or sv%).

And this is my problem with traditional goalie stats. I'd love to see more advanced statistics like that...where did shot occur, screened, tipped, ect...
I feel he's not as high in the "bad" category as most do here. Most were sour on bob last year for the same reasons (or for the last 20 years of Philly goalies).

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02-21-2012, 04:22 PM
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The cream of the crop in the NHL are the Rangers, Red Wings, and Bruins...not sure anyone can deny that. Those three teams have a lot of talent, but also play unbelievable team defense, and that is their identity.

You can say the same thing about the Blues, Coyotes, Predators, and to an extent the Wild. They all play great team defense, but don't quite have the talent to get them over the offensive hump like those 3 top teams.

From the forwards to the goalies, the team defense needs to improve dramatically.

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02-21-2012, 04:25 PM
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I think this club has a solid identity which is simply a big up tempo fast transition team that will not hesitate for even a moment to go from D to offense in the blink of an eye.....This approach has its drawbacks for sure, especially when the goalies are struggling.....And on the Power play our identity is put Hartnell-Simmonds out front of the net and work it in.

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02-21-2012, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobrien View Post
The cream of the crop in the NHL are the Rangers, Red Wings, and Bruins...not sure anyone can deny that. Those three teams have a lot of talent, but also play unbelievable team defense, and that is their identity.

You can say the same thing about the Blues, Coyotes, Predators, and to an extent the Wild. They all play great team defense, but don't quite have the talent to get them over the offensive hump like those 3 top teams.

From the forwards to the goalies, the team defense needs to improve dramatically.
...and it will improve dramatically. Once again, 7 rookies in the lineup on almost any given night. There's a reason why Laviolette is using a run and gun style of offense right now - it's to get the rookies acclimated to the game, get them some playing time and get them used to the NHL game before Laviolette implements a more defensive-oriented game plan.

Once Couturier, Read, Schenn, Sestito, Rinaldo, Zolnierczyk, etc...all get this first season under their belt, then next season will be the year that Laviolette focuses on the defensive side of the game. Right now, he needs something to keep everyone's head afloat and he needs to build some relationships with the younger players. Using a run and gun system will allow him the opportunity to build some chemistry with the young guys and when Laviolette goes to implement a more defensively rigid system next year, those young guys will buy in and they won't be in over their heads when he asks them to do so. It's a smart plan that he has in place. It might be ugly to watch at times, but he's getting those guys exposed and they'll know what they need to do next season to be successful.

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