The Dialectic: The Devils Ruin Everything

Broad Street Hockey: Flyers sink

Broad Street Hockey: Flyers sink

This is a direct personal response to an article, hosted elsewhere on the internet. Multiple citations are available throughout this post. We recommend you read the original article as well.

Response By: Michael Conroy

It’s becoming clear that the Philadelphia Flyers won’t be a participant in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This comes as only the slightest of surprises, being that it would have taken a miracle to overcome the team’s ugly start to the year. The guys over at Broad Street Hockey seem to agree, following a dreadful weekend for the orange and black that was capped by what always feels like an inevitable loss to the New Jersey Devils.

This particular article was written by Kurt R., Associate Editor at BSH. You can contact him @Kurt_BSH on twitter.

The article begins as many Flyers articles must, admitting that the team played well for most of the contest. Keith Kinkaid was only the latest un-touted young goalie to shine against Philadelphia.

It’s a scenario we’ve all become familiar with at this point. What is it about bright orange that provokes goalies to stand on their heads? At this point, Craig Berube might as well have his players skate by the opposing net shouting “You can do this, we believe in you!” I’d be curious to see if the number bear that out but I’ll probably just wait for someone else to do the analytical work. I’ll be sure to use their results though, just as soon as they get off of their lazy ass and post them.

The next key point in Kurt’s post deals with a particularly brutal stretch of hockey, — yet another staple of the modern “bullies” —  specifically spanning from “the 9:26 mark of the second period all the way to the 2:17 mark of the third period, the Flyers failed to send a single shot attempt towards the New Jersey net”.

Yikes. Look, we all know how stifling the Devils’ defense has proven over the years — especially for the Flyers — but Kurt’s not alone in thinking this level of performance is “inexcusable” at the professional level. Scratch, claw, bite, maybe cheat your way to some chances if you have to. Because, this weekend, they very much did have to.

Perhaps the most poignant observation that Kurt R. came away with from Sunday’s game pertains to Mark Streit, the Flyers’ top pairing defensemen:

Mark Streit played what was quite possibly the worst game he’s ever played in a Flyers uniform. Even beyond his possession numbers being the worst on the team, he was right in the middle of three different Devils goals, with the one shown above being the most egregious of the bunch. He looked totally out of sorts all game and couldn’t control the puck on his stick at all. He didn’t play for the final 6:29 of the game with the team down by three. Is that Craig Berube resting him or benching him?

Kurt isn’t kidding. The play that ultimately sealed the game was just agonizing to watch. The Flyers won the faceoff in the offensive zone and looked to be setting up a shot, but Streit absolutely whiffed on the puck the way I whiffed at the plate in little league (I was terrible, let’s move on). This resulted in a 2-on-0. Yes, you read that right. If ever there were a play that sums up the problem with evaluating goalie play in Philly over the past 10 years, this was it.

Speaking of goalie play, Steve Mason certainly wasn’t stellar in his second of back-to-back outings. Kurt admits as much, saying that “while it’s impossible to pin the game on Mason himself, it certainly wasn’t his finest performance,” and even the most ardent Mason supporters can agree with that “five goals on 21 shots against isn’t good no matter how you slice it.”

It was a rough weekend for the Philadelphia Flyers, but a few players represented bright spots. Kurt R. singled out Ryan White for his hand in the only two Philadelphia goals of the day as well as the 2nd and 3rd line defensive pairings.

Ryan White has been a bright spot for me all season. I’ll never understand how the gap in talent can seem so small at times between the stars and average joes in the NHL. t’s a modern sports phenomenon. It may also be a problem for the league. I’ve been complaining for years that the talent pool in the NHL may actually be too deep. But, that’s a problem for another time.

Right now, all that matters is that the Philadelphia Flyers are in dire straits. At least, they were before this devastating weekend of hockey. Ideally, this dialectic series will include my disagreement with what I’ve read elsewhere on the internet, but I found myself in lock-step with Kurt R. and Broad Street Hockey in this article (and if I agree with everything you’ve argued, you know that you’ve done just a brilliant job).

There are many points I didn’t get to in this post, so I highly recommend you head on over to Broadstreethockey.com and check it out.

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Soundtrack to a Season: 2013-2014 Philadelphia Flyers

Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers kicked off their season the right way, racing out to an early lead and playing a tight and physical game. In the end, however, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome a tremendous effort from one man on the other side of the puck. There were plenty of positives to take away from the from this game, but coming in second always sucks even if it is just one game out of 82.

Track 1: 2nd Sucks

Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers took their first steps into a larger world, wading into the uncharted waters of the 2013-2014 NHL season. Whether or not the orange and black stand to see much success in the near future is still a mystery and last night’s game did little to aid any predictions one might make.

In fact, we learned much more about the Maple Leafs in the Flyers’ season opener than anything else. Playing in Montreal just 24 hours prior to what would be a very physical struggle, Toronto made the 455 mile journey to Philadelphia. After a predictably slow start, the Leafs began to assert themselves as the game went on.

Midway through the 2nd period, Toronto’s skating legs returned and the weary squad began winning races to the puck. They gave the Flyers everything they could handle along the boards, overcoming SIX short-handed situations along the way. Toronto gutted one out and deposited the final two goals it would take to put away the Flyers for good.

The men in blue skated into Wells Fargo Center and muscled the air out of the building. It was a truly impressive performance by what appears to be a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

As far as the Flyers were concerned, the effort wasn’t anything to be ashamed of overall. Philadelphia played what was, for the most part, an uncharacteristically tight game. Passes were crisp and on target and some new faces dazzled to create multiple opportunities in front of the net.

The lone goal for the home team came as a result of some blue-collar work from the newly added Vincent Levavalier, who carved out some space for himself behind Jonathon Bernier before finessing a pass to a wide open Brayden Schenn in the slot.

Schenn buried the chance with six seconds left in the 1st period. Unfortunately for the Flyers, that’s all Bernier was prepared to concede. Despite numerous quality looks for Philadelphia, including a penalty shot from Wayne Simmonds, the new Leafs goaltender held on and stole his first victory of the season.

It’s hard to be pleased with any Flyers loss, but the Flyers showed encouraging signs in defeat. Giroux looked no worse for the wear after his off-season injury scare. He played quarterback for the team all night, setting up his mates with fantastic looks. As long as the Captain keeps at it, the points will come with time. Brayden Schenn, Mark Streit, and the aforementioned Lecavalier all made an impression in the game, but there was another player whose performance stood out.

Sean Couturier has gotten much stronger. He was in the mix along the boards and even out in front of the net on multiple occasions and looks to be coming into his own. That growth will be important as the Flyers have taken a remarkable stand behind he and Schenn as their franchise cornerstones during their recent rumored trade negotiations.

One major concern that has reared it’s ugly head for the second consecutive year (it would appear) is the Flyers’ lack of accuracy when firing on net. Philadelphia was on the power-play for twelve minutes versus the Maple Leafs and, at times, it appeared as if  Jonathan Bernier was the center piece of a shooting gallery.

Still, far too many shots soared wide of the net. When a goalie is as hot as Bernier was last night, you can’t afford to help him out by missing the net. This is a problem that plagued Philly for most of the 2012 shortened season and it’s one they have to overcome to beat the best teams in the NHL.

The night left much to be desired for Philly fans, but the hockey season is a marathon and the path is not a straight one. There will be many twists and turns along the way for every team. To try and use last night as a vantage point for looking ahead would be foolish.

Montreal awaits on Saturday and the Flyers set out having a respectable foundation to build upon. The bullies have at least 4,860 minutes of ice time left to correct what they could not on opening night.

This is Absolution

Rogers Arena, Vancouver

Tomorrow morning, every member of the Bruins and Vancouver organizations will wake up sore, spent, and guilt-less. This series has been everything the NHL and its robust fan base could have ever asked for. In a few short hours, these men will be digging in for the biggest game of their lives; a Super Bowl on ice. Through struggle, these two teams have dragged respect and hatred out of one another and they will leave all of it on the ice tonight.

Every punishing blow, exclaimed insult, and cheap shot administered will finally bear fruit when tonight’s game seven concludes. It would not surprise me if this one went to overtime. If I had to say that one team were at a disadvantage, it would be Boston, though I don’t feel strongly about this determination, Make no mistake about it, Neither of these two teams will play a comfortable game.

It’s a very good thing that there are only seven games allowed in this series because after tonight, I really don’t think either of these teams will have anything left to give.

Two nights ago, I saw something that made me chuckle nervously simply because I had no appropriate reaction. The second period of game six had just come to an end and the Canucks might as well have been on the plane back to Canada already. There was no way they were coming back from a 4-0 deficit in the third. The final period got underway and the Canucks plastered a message on Tim Thomas that I am sure will be there tonight. They dominated three minutes of a game for no other reason than to let the Bruins know they could.

All momentum that Boston had going into this game is null. The home-ice advantage that Vancouver established through this series is void. Throw everything out folks. The Cup is in the building tonight and one of these teams will be leaving with it. The hype surrounding this game is immeasurable and yet, I can’t imagine this game disappointing.

Whichever team wins tonight will deserve it and whichever team loses should feel completely absolved come tomorrow. When you give your best, your worst, your everything and more to win a title the way these two teams have, the outcome is a footnote.

The Audacity

Boston-Vancouver Stanley Cup Finals

Have you heard about hockey this year? It’s actually good; like, really good for the first time in about a decade. I seriously can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a regular season hockey game before the 2010 season. Still, I took a chance this year on some random weekday on about two hours of programming featuring the Flyers and Penguins in Pittsburgh. It did not disappoint.

I have always been baffled by the sheer energy of the game and, growing up a Flyers fan, have maintained a healthy appreciation for the monumental amount of interest that each player shows during every single possession. The best part about hockey is that there are no down moments. Aside from the occasional errant puck or late game timeout, there are usually nine to ten men on the ice going at 110% for most of the game.

This intensity is only magnified when the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around. I will admit that I can often be prone to hyperbole, but I believe that I speak my heart when I say this year’s tournament may just be the most entertaining one the NHL has ever seen. The Buffalo-Philadelphia series was absolutely incredible, not to be outdone by the almost historical clash of Vancouver and Chicago. The Ducks and Sharks also provided a great show on the ice this post season.

With so many phenomenal match-ups behind us, surely the championship could never live up to the hype generated in the preceding rounds, right? Wrong; Dead wrong. After this tourney had shown us that there is no such thing as home field advantage, the Boston-Vancouver series has placed home-ice right back atop it’s pedestal following five riveting home team victories.

Tonight’s game was honestly my favorite type of game; a dog fight. Goals were like gold out there and ever shot had me exhaling while five men threw themselves desperately into one another in an effort to keep a rubber puck out of their net. This series has opened my eyes to what hockey can be at it’s greatest. Vancouver holds the edge after tonight’s battle but the Bruins are by no means defeated. They have shown that the Canucks are going to have to rip that Stanley Cup trophy away from them and beat them to a pulp with said cup if they want to keep it.

My favorite aspect of this series has been the difference in styles with which each team plays. It seems to me, a completely inexperienced couch monger, that the Bruins play a rough style of hockey. They want contact and they want you on your ass. The Canucks can dish out some punishment as well, but what has really impressed me about the Canucks is their simple technical mastery of the game. Sound puck handling, seemingly robotic transition movement, and precise skating has powered them to a 3-2 series edge.

Both of these teams play with a passion that I find is almost absent in most other major sports. The idea of having every single member of a team playing with everything that they have for the complete duration of a game seems silly when applied to such sports as baseball, basketball, and even football. Could you imagine Allen Iverson diving to block a shot before recovering and dashing forward to get into his offensive position? What about T. O. shrugging off a check to find the puck along the boards and get it to his closest team mate? Hope you weren’t drinking anything while trying to picture those; if so, I apologize.

Anyway, I’m rooting for a Bruins victory hardcore on Sunday so long as I get a little bit more of this before it’s all over and I’m left with “Lebron’s Legacy Post-Finals” and “The Phillies Can’t Hit” headlines to troll you all with. Enjoy it while it lasts, sport fan public and if you haven’t caught any of the action on the ice lately, shame on you. You disappoint me…no seriously.