Disappointment has become a regular facet in the life of a Flyers fan this season. Inconsistency has become more than just a nuisance, the continuous losses and lack of energy landing the Flyers nowhere near a playoff position. The lackluster season has every fan in agreement that there needs to be some action taken, but the question is who, or what, is the problem?
So who should the consequences fall on, who bears responsibility for this failure of a season? Most will point to the coach and why not, firing the coach has been a go to tactic for as long as we can remember, but will getting rid of Peter Laviolette really fix the problem? Most people say that it’s the coach’s job no matter the situation to find a way to make them click and motivate them to work together, but this isn’t always possible. A coach has to work with what he’s given, and while it’s true that we have talented forward lineup, it’s obvious that they aren’t playing to their potential. Can we really expect Laviolette to get onto the ice with the forward and guide them to making the right moves? How they play is based solely on their personal matters, their mindset their focus and their aggression. There are problems that can’t be addressed just by motivational speeches. We can’t ignore the fact that our defense is severely weak, leaving veteran Kimmo Timonen trying to hold together a rather unimpressive blue line roster; and it seems like Timonen is getting a bit too old to be able to handle Laviolette’s high intensity style of coaching. The weak defense is no help to Bryzgalov either. Now don’t get me wrong I love Boosh and Leighton as much as the next guy, but they’re just not playing at the same level they used to, and the lack of a strong backup forces Laviolette to play Bryz repeatedly, making him the most overworked goalie in the league with 14 consecutive starts since February 18th andonly sitting 2 games this whole season.
So what does Laviolette have to work with so far? A low key defense that may be too old for his coaching style, weak backup goalies, and over worked starter, and an overall exhausted team. What Laviolette is most likely being made the scapegoat for is the lack of goal producing forwards. I’ve heard it said that we have such a talented core and if he can’t get them to produce then he’s gotta go. It’s true the forward does show a lot of potential, and yes Laviolette should be able to get them inspired to do their best, but most of this new core that Holmgren built up is made of younger players. It’s gonna take some time for players like B. Schenn, Couturier, Simmonds and Read to get to a point where they are playing to their full potential. Other than that there’s not much a coach can do for players like Giroux or Hartnell who are in a scoring slump. There are only so many line combinations and possible speeches that he can try. Can we really blame Laviolette for doing the best he can with what he has; besides getting rid of the coach won’t change the Flyers half assed play and absence of aggression.
The position we’re in now, there are very few options, none of which would benefit the Flyers very much, but could possibly help strengthen the blue line, and unfortunately the options aren’t too promising. Holmgren built this team lopsided with a young offensive core, and an older weak defense. In order to build up the defense the Flyers could do 1 of 2 things.
- Pick up a young defensive prospect in the draft.
As promising as this could seem, it would really be of little help. With a rookie defenseman it would take years to develop him to be a star player and a major staple in the Flyers roster. Too long in fact, by the time a drafted rookie is made into a reliable player our current forward group will most likely be past its prime leaving us with a lack of scoring power to back the defense, and even so that’s only ONE defenseman, hardly a change, unless Grossman and L. Schenn can become top blue liners.
2. Trade away the young talent to gain a well known defense.
This would make the forward core that is supposed to be being built up completely moot. Trading away the young players would not only leave us with an even weaker forward, but would also practically strip the team of players that can accommodate Laviolette’s coaching style which would still leave us with a less than intense team.
It just seems like the team wasn’t put together with much thought. On the defense all our chips were thrown into the Pronger basket and we got a raw deal, as soon as Prongs was out our D started to slowly deteriorate. It may be that the shortened schedule paired with Laviolette’s fast paced coaching has left the team worn out and they just can’t recover enough to play as aggressively as is needed.
Whatever the case, I don’t really see how the blame could be placed completely on Laviolette, but there are some that would try to prove me wrong. Despite fan consensus, we have been repeatedly reassured that neither Coach Peter Laviolette or GM Paul Holmgren’s jobs are at stake. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what moves they make to make this team the Cup contenders they should be.
Unfortunately for the Flyers it seems like this season is shot. Currently the Flyers have more games played than a good portion of the league and are on a 5 day break, leaving a big opening for lower teams to climb the rankings and put the Flyers even lower on the board than their current 27th place. The bad season has a lot of fans worried for the safety of their favorite players Philadelphia careers. GM Paul Holmgren has a reputation as a man who makes big trades when the team gets desperate, a lot of them arguably less than appreciated and that’s putting it nicely. On top of the terrible season we may even see the loss of some fan favorites and some misguided trades of players who haven’t been on the top of their game, all we can say for sure is that noone is safe.
So should Peter Laviolette or Paul Holmgren be on the chopping block this season?