What Ever Happened to

With the addition of two marquee defensman, and one of the top three players in hockey, the Flyers were the early favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season, but injuries, poor special teams, and lack of a Captain has tarnished that early vision of successWhen the Flyers introduced their new lineup for the 2005-06 season, many people believed they were hands down the favorites to win the cup this year, at minimum representing the Eastern Conference. At the Quarter mark of the season, the Flyers look shaky on the Penalty kill, and injuries have played a critical role in their recent slide.

Offensively, the team is just fine. Defensively, the team is solid (when Therien is not on the ice, but thats a different topic). If anyone watched the most recent game against the Devils, the defense looked strong and able to play the game that is the new NHL….but then the penalty killing team comes onto the ice. As of today, the Flyers are 2 percentage points below the 29th ranked team in terms of penalty kill. Penalty kill has been a strong point of the fFyers in past years, and a staple of Hitch***** coaching. This year, the PK has flat out stunk, and has cost the Flyers more than their share of games.

Hitch***** blames the poor effort on injuries, specifying in particular Kapanen and Primeau. While Sami Kapanen has returned to the team after more than two months off due to an injury, and has shown he can help on the PK. Primeau, however, remains on the shelf indefinitely (if forever). This is a major problem. The team is without their best defensive center, and captain. If you watch the team, especially now with Forsberg injured, the team looks lost and leaderless. It shows how much Forsberg means to the team, especialy watching a lifeless powerplay without their playmaker on the ice, opening up the game for the other four players on the ice.

Is it time to hand over the Captain’s C to another player? Who knows? Gagne has been on record saying he was offered, but did not want to accept the role out of respect for Primeau, but the team needs a leader. Hatcher was captain in Dallas, he could be an effective leader. Other than him, the team is mostly younger players, and veterans who are not leader types. I say its a toss between Gagne, Fosberg, and Hatcher.

What does this mean for the rest of the season? To be honest, I think things will get better before they get worse. The team stresses the injury to Forsberg is minor, in fact he is expected to play Saturday against Nashville, and with the majority of the regulars in the lineup the penalty kill should start to improve. Watching the devils game with two consecutive 5 on 3 PKs was hard to watch, but they pulled though miraculously. The bottom line is the special teams must improve is the Flyers want to compete in the Playoffs next year.

On a positive note, I am very surprised with the performance of the younger players on the team. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were expected to perform, and they have done very well up to this point. However, the other younger kids; the play of Umberger, Sharp, and most recently Ben Eager, has been very surprising. This can only show the future of the team, which is looking very good, I think.


28 Responses to What Ever Happened to

  1. shakrmakr says:

    I always thought they were overrated team before the season started anyways.

  2. cecilturtle says:

    “Tarnished that early vision of success.” (gojiclan)??? I dont get it? If you look at the standings the Flyers are doing just fine… Allbeit, they have played an outragious amount of home games compared to games on the road. And of cource, their is no guarentee their goaltending wont fall apart down the way when they have to play on the road away from those so so very friendly fans in Philly. The Rangers have won 6 straight and have not played better in 7 years. Every time I look at the standings the Flyers are right there behind them with games in hand.

    I thought you fans from Philly might have learned by now that this constant critisism of your sports teams makes them losers! I mean, there is no doubt your Flyers will make the playoffs. Its kind of funny, as an outsider, watching this crazy Philly fan and media behavior… I guarentee, no matter how good the Flyers are playing at the time, most fans and media are going to pick this Flyers team apart complaining about every “perceived” fault the team has. Come playoff time the Flyers players will be so selfconscious of their play that they will be more afraid of failing than feeling the success of winning. Philly does this every year to every one of its sports teams. Its like one has to take a baseball bat and crack yall in the head till you see the light. Actually Philly would still not see the light because they would be to busy slapping the guy with the bat silly! Never mind! Just keep complaining and putting more pressure on your sports teams for not winning a championship since ?????. That is if the team has even ever won a championship once?

    Cecil Turtle

  3. 92-93 says:

    interesting article.

    i don’t think the Flyers are doing that bad right now and as the season progresses, they will pick up their play to become one of the top 4 teams in the NHL (if they haven’t done that already – they haven’t played as many games as most NHL teams). they will eventually take over 1st from the Rangers.

    that being said, the Flyers are not going to have as easy of a time taking 1st place from the Rangers and finishing in the top-4 of the East as many – including myself – have previously predicted. because of the improved play of so many East teams (and Atlantic division teams like the NYR, the improving Devils, and the mediocre but still competitive Pens and Isles), the Flyers won’t be running away with anything anytime soon.

    however,

  4. nordiques100 says:

    I think alot of the anti-Flyer sentiments are due to their fans claiming greatness out of Robert Esche. The fact is the Flyers have the worst goals against out of all of the teams currently in a playoff spot. they are in fact 23rd in the league. Antero Nittymaki has also been shoddy despite the accolades given to him. to be mentioned among the likes of Kari Lehtonen, Marc Andre Fleury, Roberto Luongo, rick Dipietro as the top young goalie. That was far fetched and a bit too optimistic. he is a good goalie but not a superstar one.

    this again is yet the same trend all over again for the flyers. remember boucher, cechmanek, snow, beezer. 2nd rate goalies for a 5 star team. they will never win because of it.

  5. WangKumar says:

    The flyers are doing just fine. Maybe they arent cup favorites right now, but you have to give it time.

    I believe the reason the rangers have started out so hot is because most of their palyers have played together in the minors and have developed chemistry, not to mention, had an extra year adapting to the new rules. It takes time for teams to gel and develop this type of chemistry. Considering where the flyers are at right now with all the new players, they are doing fine in my opinion.

  6. Neely4Life says:

    They have one line that produces, and so far, withotu Foresberg, they have looked average at best!

  7. habswinthecup-again says:

    “many people believed they were hands down the favorites to win the cup this year, at minimum representing the Eastern Conference.” The only people that believed that were Flyer fans with their wishful thinking. The rest of the world saw the real picture, which is plain and simple- your defense is way to slow and you still do not have a goalie that will take you anywhere in the playoffs. Oh one more thing, if anybody believes that Forsberg is going to play even close to a whole season, you are crazy.

  8. 92-93 says:

    the post was cut off – heres the rest of it:

    however, i still think it is a little too soon to be worrying about the flyers just yet. the play of forsberg, gagne, pitkanen, etc. is amazing. carters and richards are getting better with every game.

  9. gojiclan says:

    The hockey news piced philly to win the cup in their yearly preview special. but tahts neither here nor there.

    Yes I am from philly, and I can say I have seen better play from different flyers teams than this current team. The special teams are the worst in the league, how can anyone say thats ok? While i do believe it will get better in the long run, I can honestly say that it has a direct result of the amont of goals given up by the team. Yes they are second in their division, but look at the teams that are clearly out perfroming them. The flyers are very skiddish right now, due to injuries and piss poor penalty kill.

    Im happy people actualy think they are not that bad. In reality, they really are in a good situation. But these problems with the team are in fact very big issues, and need to be adressed if they want to win

  10. wheresthesoda says:

    yea good article, and they defiently havent been living up to there expcatations from what people expected them to do. They do have a good record, and still are a good team, gagne and forsberg and knuble line, ive seen them play, and theyre a really good line. They have great skill, some heart, and more importantly…theyu work there asses off the times ive seen them play.

    Flyers are a good team, definetly make the playoffs, not sure past teh 1st or 2nd round, but definetly not a cup contender, mainly because of the Senators.

  11. cgolding says:

    2-1… i’ll take it.

  12. cgolding says:

    my thoughts on the Flyers:

    1) They had a lot of turnover, anyone looking at the team should have assumed they would need some time to gel as a group. The Sens are CLEARLY a very good team regardless, but they had a great advantage going into the year compared to a lot of squads due to the chemistry of a group that had played together before (see Montreal and their early success as well).

    2) the PP is very strong and should continue to be so. the 2nd unit is still developing, but eventually should be quality as Carter gets more comfortable with the NHL game.

    3) the PK has been AWFUL, but there have been market improvements of late. a major issue here is the fact that we haven’t had Stevenson, Primeau, Kapanen, and Desjardins for much of the season… we were stretched thin on “quality” PK’ers. that’s life, but i think the PK will finish near the middle of the pack if we can get healthy (too much ugly weight on the stats to get into the top 10 unless they start killing at an unbelievable rate). this really has been our largest problem defensively…

    4) defense in general… we’ve had some breakdowns — everyone has — but the largest problem i’ve noticed is the breakout gets really odd at times. some of this is when Therien is in, who is completely awful, and he starts doing odd things like skating in front of the net with two forecheckers on him. however, there seems to be a general problem with the decision making by the Dmen at times, which i imagine the team will iron-out as we go forward…

    5) goaltending has been shoddy at times… lot of goalies are struggling, Esche is one of them. i feel he’s been getting better over the course of the season and hopefully that continues until he’s back to where he was in the WC and last playoffs. may not happen, but that is the hope… it would help if we were doing a better job on the PK, as opponents are getting a lot of goals from locations that are tough to stop.

    in summation: we’re fine and should get stronger. injuries have played a role, as they tend to do, but we haven’t suffered anything overly serious outside of Preems concussion. i don’t think we’re going to know how good this team is until January/February as they progress to learn how to play with one another.

  13. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    i do hope forsberg is gone for awhile cause i traded away gagne in my fantasy pool and i wonder how gagne is going to do without him.

  14. Neely4Life says:

    hey, my buddy is on the team, im cheering for them too, but they havnt looked too great. He got his first NHL point though!

  15. Neely4Life says:

    hes doing ok.

  16. bernie1parent says:

    lets see, i have yet to see our “slow defensmen” get caught by any of the speedy players. the only time that they have been caught is when they have been caught napping, and there was also a speedster out there (pitkanen) and about the goalie, where did we get last year, oh yeah, the 7th game of the finals. im pretty sure that is pretty deep in the playoffs. the only people who didnt think the flyers to be one of the top contenders (along with the likes of detroit and ottawa), were just those who hate the flyers, ey.

  17. bernie1parent says:

    i completely agree with you. weve been lacking our primary PK’ers and our goalies haven’t been playing up to snuff, but as time goes on, barring injuries, we will most def. get back up to where people saw us at the beg. of the season. i kind of like being second in the division for now. give us a bit lower of a profile. ah screw it. lets just take out the rangers now.

  18. flyersfan10897 says:

    I agree. They are 15-6-3, have the 4th best winning percentage, score over 4 goals a game, and have a power play over 20%. Their only problem has been penalty killing, which, if you look at the injuries, particularly primeau, stevenson, kapanen, and desjardins, its easy to see why, as they are basically the best penalty killers on the team, along with handzus.

  19. flyersfan10897 says:

    But you need to understand that Esche is not the reason the Flyers are giving up that many goals. They allow 1.5 power play goals a game. If that number was at one a game, there would be nothing to worry about. No matter how good or bad a goalie is, he cant stop everything when the players killing penalties dont even move.

  20. Flyer_Dman says:

    We’re fine. We are in second place in our division by a few points but have a couple games in hand. We have been playing a lot of home games, which has worked out. Hopefully when the road games start coming we have Stevenson, Primaeu and Forsberg back.

    Our young guys impress me every game. Every game either Sharpe, Sim, Carter, Richards, or Umberger do something pretty amazing and unexpected. They are really fun to watch.

    I’ve watched a lot of hockey this season with the Center Ice Package. I realize this is totally bias, but the Flyers have been the most exciting team to watch so far this year. The Flyers have come back soo many times. They score shorthanded goals, last second goals, extremely clutch goals….and sometimes all three at the same time (Knuble vs. Panthers). They also lose heartbreakers from time to time, which can be better than never losing sometimes. The Flyers are soo much fun to watch. They are a very very good team and can do some serious damage. Esche has shown some signs of inconsistency but has yet to really fall apart, and Nittymaki is a great backup. When the Flyers are healthy and Therien and Brashear are scratches we should win every night. By the way, the Flyers are one of only 3 teams that have beaten the Sens. And we totally outplayed them when we beat them…away.

    PS – I’m not saying the Flyers are better than the Sens.

  21. GlenSather says:

    The Rangers goaltending is far superior to the Flyers as is their team defense. The Rangers also have third and fourth line players which the Flyers can’t match. Right now the Rangers can probably be caught and pasted by the Flyers. If the Rangers make a few deals to improve the second line like they have mentioned the Flyers are done.

  22. gojiclan says:

    on a side note…

    it has been reported today (friday) on 610 WIP radio station that Robert Esche is out for Saturdays game, and will be evaluated for an injury that has been described as a “possible sports hernia”

    ive never heard of this injury before this year, then 3 philly players get the same injury…so weird

  23. shekkie says:

    tsn is reporting it as a strain but possibly a sports hernia. well I suppose now we’ll get to see what nitty is really made of.

  24. nordiques100 says:

    scott walker of the preds has been out since the 22nd of october with that injury and is expected to not return until the new year. that may be the worst injury or at least one of the worst. playing with it can lead to other injuries. coming back early is bad too because that too can lead to more harm than good. may be even worse for a goalie since they have to push off, shift around and stretch so much.

  25. nhand says:

    Just a few points for those concerned about the Flyers. Now is not the time to be concerned. They are in second place behind the Rangers with 3 games in hand. I don’t think that’s a major concern. They have been hammered with injuries. Despite these setbacks, the team seems to be learning how to win in the face of adversity (note this special skill come playoff time!). The special teams have struggled. The power play was great with Forsberg in the lineup. I think it’s great that other guys are getting a chance at the power play. You can’t have one unit going into the playoffs. The other guys will have to learn how to produce and I think they are. The penalty killing has been atrocious. There is no way to sugar coat this one. I have no positives other than with Kapanen back in the lineup and hopefully Stevenson soon too, the penalty killing should improve. As for the goaltending. Everyone can doubt Esche and Nittymakki all they want. However, we’ll never know what either can do until the playoffs come. I’m willing to wait an see how it all turns out (it’s what makes watching sports exciting).

    Be patient Flyers fans. Time is on their side at this point. If the Flyers haven’t developed into the great team they should be by the time they come out of the Olympic break, then you can hit the panic button. Now’s not the time. The Stanley Cup has never been won in October, November, December, etc : )

  26. broc says:

    Flyers will make it to the 2nd round at BEST.

    You don’t go far in the playoffs with erratic goaltending, poor special teams, and crapty/slow D.

  27. broc says:

    Now is not the time to be concerned? lol

    Flyers have crap D, even worse special teams.. and huge hole in centre without Primeau. Also other injury concerns (Forsberg always).

    When exactly, is it time to worry? These all need to be addressed if the team thinks it has a chance against a team like Ottawa. Otherwise you might be seeing them in the first round!

    You think Therien, Hatcher et all are going to handle Heatley Alfy, Spezza Havlat? It won’t even be close.

  28. PinkFloydFreak87 says:

    Actually as I recall, they did handle Heatley, Alfy, Spezza, Havlat and co. And quite well might I add.

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