May 8, 2012, 10:25 PM EDT
During the off-season, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren tore apart the team’s structure in a mad rush of moves. He didn’t say the team would be better, but he said it would sure look different.
Instead, the Flyers’ 2011-12 season essentially seemed like a bizarre sequel to last season, only with a wildly different cast. Philly didn’t win the Atlantic like they did last year, but they were a formidable if flawed group nonetheless. The Flyers then overcame shoddy goaltending in the first round against Pittsburgh (much like they did in 2011 against Buffalo) only to get smacked around in the semifinals against a hated rival (this year: New Jersey in five games thanks to tonight’s 3-1 loss; last year: Boston in four).
The more things change, the more they stay the same for this fascinating Flyers franchise … but this time they probably can’t just trade their “problems” away.
After a track meet series against the Penguins, the Flyers almost seemed bewildered by the thought of facing a more balanced and controlled opponent in the Devils. A totally flat Game 2 from Philly could have been a reality check. Instead, it was a harbinger of things to come as New Jersey essentially dominated every facet of the series.
Who takes the blame?
Everyone, maybe? Claude Giroux‘s suspension hurt. Ilya Bryzgalov‘s bonehead moves were brutal, but he also kept them in some games that weren’t particularly competitive. The Flyers’ defense looked porous yet the most disturbing thing for a high-powered offense for Philly was that they didn’t have much success in their strongest area.
Bryzgalov will get a lot of blame – and to some extent, rightfully so – yet it was a near-total failure. For that reason (and a virtual refusal to give solid backup Sergei Bobrovsky even a slight chance), some might actually point a finger of blame at Peter Laviolette.
I’d say make your choice.
What will they do about it?
For better or worse, the Flyers seem pretty locked-in. Sure, Holmgren isn’t shy about making bold moves, but who’s going to take Bryzgalov’s albatross contract in a trade?
The most obvious concern (in-house, at least) is bringing back Matt Carle and/or Jaromir Jagr. Then again, you never know with the Flyers; they could very well arrange things to get in on the Ryan Suter sweepstakes. For all the money they spend on their defense, they could really use a No. 1 guy with Chris Pronger possibly done for good.
Logic says the Flyers largely “are what they are.” But when has logic really factored in to this wacky and consistently entertaining franchise?
- Emery to start Game 1 versus Rangers 22
- Bulletin-board material: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup 21
- PHT staff picks: Who’s going to win the Stanley Cup? 26
- 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: PHT’s Round 1 picks 27
- Pressing Question: Can the Blackhawks avoid the Stanley Cup hangover? 9
- Florida wins ’14 NHL draft lottery, will pick first overall 39
- Philly mum on Mason’s availability for Game 1 vs. Rangers 26
- Pressing question: Can the Blues get back on track? 16
- That’s a raise: Flyers sign MacDonald to six-year, $30 million extension 91
- Sabres, Panthers have best odds for 2014 NHL draft lottery 16
- That’s a raise: Flyers sign MacDonald to six-year, $30 million extension (91)
- Lightning’s Malone arrested for DUI, cocaine possession (73)
- Update: Daniel Sedin in stable condition, hospitalized after scary hit (58)
- Halak’s agent ‘bewildered’ by Oates’ remarks prior to Blues game (51)
- Here’s the schedule for the first round of the 2014 playoffs (51)