Health, some better coaching, some lucky bounces and one more fleet footed defenceman!!
Were not off by much....
We need to change our style of play more than anything. If the playoffs showed us anything, it's that speed kills. And while Hitch may talk in his Hitch Answers column about how the term speed is thrown around indifferently, fact of the matter is that if you can skate, you can hurt this club.
We need to drop dead weight like Hatcher, Rathje, Desjardins and bring in bodies that can keep the pace. I'd love to see Sami moved back on the D full time because he could really bring a speed presence back there. His offensive contribution days are over now, but he could become a very key component on the back end and could really help bring some much needed speed to the back end.
We also need a real gamebreaker on this team. Someone whose presence alone makes other teams worried about playing us. Nobody fears Forsberg anymore because, damn I hate saying this, he's injury prone. You'll never get a full season out of him. And who does that leave? It leaves Gagne, who nobody fears. It leaves Nedved, who nobody fears. It leaves Knuble, who nobody fears. It leaves Carter, who nobody fears yet. It leaves Richards, who nobody fears yet. It leaves Umberger, who nobody fears yet.
What I do like is that Hitch mentioned in his post season interview that the mistake he made was that sometimes he focused the team on who was missing rather than who was playing. He took away a big opportunity for some of the younger guys to step up. I'm glad to see that he's really going to push the younger guys this year and really make them integral parts of the team. We need our young players to take more prominent roles on this team.
We also need a new captain. I'm just not convinced we'll get a full season out of Primeau and Hatcher is a complete joke. Once Hatcher was made captain of the team, you could begin to see the downward spiral this team went on. If they can find a way to get him out, that would be great. He's detrimental to everyone on this roster. As well, the other thing this team needs to do is to name one goaltender as the starter and stick with it. This whole split playing time between the two is detrimental to both goalies. This is going to cause another goaltending controversy again and nothing is being done to quell it. I blame management and coaching for that. Get a set of balls and name or the other the starter.
Finally, and I know I'm going to get flamed for this, we need to make some moves. We really need to see about making a deal for an impact player. By impact player, I mean someone who can really create offensive opportunities for the second line so we can really begin to balance this team out. If it means moving Handzus and draft picks, then I'm all for it. It's been proven that Handzus is not a shut down center guy and while his two way play is great, we have enough players that can do that. We really need a special offensive player though for the second line. I'm still pissed that this team didn't address that issue last offseason when Cory Stillman was available. He would have looked great on the right wing on the Carter line. Too late for that. Prospal might be a real nice fit there though. I'd love to see what it would take to land Zherdev from Columbus because I really think he could be that game breaker this team needs. And you know something, I'd be willing to give up Handzus, Potulny and a first this year and next year for him.
#1 Less Injuries...Better Conditioning...Training or whatever it is that keeps the Flyers getting hurt and losing their best players for long stretches. They really NEED to figure that one out. Every team has injuries and if they come at the wrong time your sunk, but the Flyers seemed to have them all year.
#2 Do the Players believe in Hitch? If not he's gotta go. He obviously is a good coach but his system must fit with his personel and their personalities
#3 Pick a Goaltender and stick with him. Either guy is great. Just pick a guy and make him THE MAN
#4 Smaller Quicker D Men
# 5 The eventual return of a rested, healthy Forsberg
IN the mean time while rookies get better and hopefully the players stay healthy they do need a playmaking and scoring second line winger which could be Nedved, he gets in the zone with some amazing moves and stick handling just nobody is fast or clever enough to get there with him to pass off to. Maybe he should be the left winger with Carter and Umberger back to RW.
If not we need to try out everyone from Ruzicka to Drozdetski to Potulny to see who clicks. I say keep Dimitrakos in the system in case we need that chemistry and those others don't pan out or get injured. I'd prefer this year to sign some scoring winger because the rookies are still developing and won't make as much an impact as say Elias or St Louis or Savard would.
They need younger legs on Defense and or ones that can hit the damn net from the blue line, I've never seen so many misses in my life, how ever will we redirect or put in the rebounds on the power play or when we control the puck in the zone, if nobody can damn come close to hitting the net area with their shots?
We need to bring Malek over if we still have his rights and can bring him over and dump Esche but in case Malek doesn't pan out we need a better backup in the system then ole Jamie Storr.
I'd rather have Hackett with Vertigo then Storr.
Creative puck movement... Guys need to be creative, find open ice and pass through the seams that open up, not necessarily sticking to the system that Hitch lays out no matter what happens. Players need to adapt to situations on the ice, not expect the situations to adapt to fit their game plan.
Another smart, mobile, offensively gifted blueliner... A healthy, consistent KJ would have helped out huge.
Discipline... If your PK unit has sucked all year, use some common sense and DON'T KEEP TAKING PENALTIES! Tied into this is my next point...
Special teams... Fix them. Period. Hopefully Stevens can come in and do something with this facet of the Flyers game, because it was so much worse than just being woeful this year.
Secondary scoring... Getting consistent production from Carter, Richards, Nedved, Kapanen, Zeus, Radio, Dimitrakos and Savage (the guys who are supposed to provide a little offensive insulation for the big line) would have been really big. <-- Understatement.
A system that allows the players to play to their strengths not a system where the coach don't adapt when he is being out coached.
What did you expect the coach to do with defenseman that cant skate, forwards that were unwilling to skate (minus Forsberg, Gagne and Nedved) and a team put together by a certain GM (who cant do anything wrong in his bosses eyes) that was not suited for the new NHL?
This team has been through about 3000 coaches in the last ten years, about 20000 combinations of players and the result is the same almost every year. What is the one constant on this team in that time frame?
And what coach this year would have done better?
This team needs
At least one, more likely two speedy dmen
playmaking RW for Carter and Umberger
A good 20-25 goal third liner with heart and grit (Fedotenko!)
A hot goalie
And dare i say a new general manager. I will give Clarke the benefit of the doubt for this year cause I was happy with his moves in 2004 and some this year, however, if he doesnt show that he can get this team with the new NHL, he needs to go. Not that it is ever going to happen anyway.