Continuing the Eastern Conference Series, I’m taking a look at the Philadelphia Flyers. The two-time cup winners have been itching to show that they are still a truly elite team, and rising above them will be no easy task.
Philly has seen it all. They’ve been at the bottom and the top, most recently losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. As of late, they’ve been a team in the middle of the pack, but are always dangerous. They fight for every inch they get, and they have the scars to prove it.
Stars like Claude Giroux, newly signed Vincent Lecavalier, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds lead the Flyers offensive efforts, while D-Men Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn make sure other forwards have a hard time getting to the net.
But who’s in said net?
That’s point of weakness #1. The Flyers don’t have a number 1 goalie; in fact, they just bought out the guy who was supposed to be their backbone for a while, Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryz wasn’t playing his best, and his relationship with the city was less than stellar. So now who do they turn to?
Well, it should seem they would turn to Ray Emery, the journeyman goaltender, and the latest in the goalie roulette in Philly. The Flyers brass simply hope that maybe, just maybe, they might finally have a goalie to depend on. But, given their past luck, I’m not betting on it. Either way, goaltending is certainly a striking point for opponents like Columbus.
Earlier, I mentioned that the Flyers fight for every inch. They play a very physical brand of hockey, and that can take a toll on opponents. That being said, moderation is certainly required in the physicality department. Feisty players like Zac Rinaldo end up sitting in the box more time than they spend on the ice, and with many guys playing like loose cannons, the PIMs stack up. Weakness #2.
The key for a team like Columbus is to let Philadelphia take care of the overly physical play. Obviously its necessary to be physical and earn a win through gritty, determined play, but extra-curricular stuff, retaliation especially, is something best left to the Broad Street Bullies. Let the Flyers watch you score while they have a seat in the Sin Bin.
I’m not saying lay down and take excessive punishment that is doled out. If someone throws an elbow to a teammate’s head, by all means someone on the Blue Jackets roster is expected to show the aggressor the error of their ways. Preferably through stiff right hook, but that’s just me.
But if a Flyer throws a few extra cross checks after a scrum in front, it’s not necessary to start throwing punches. Let him make a fool out of himself and get two minutes for stupidity, then go score while he just watches.
So, in my opinion, the game plan for Columbus against a team like Philadelphia is to not let them in your head. Cliche? Yes, but only because it is right. Just let them take care of the idiocy while we skate away and put the puck in the net.