A week and a half out from the trade deadline and rumors are: the Flyers could acquire some new talent; this change could give them some hope at the chance to finish the season with a little dignity. In order for this team to make the play offs they would have to win 10 of their final 16 games. Winning is not something the Flyers are consistently good at and it is doubtful that a few changes would fix anything. One can only wonder what is going through Laviolette’s mind as he tries to coach this team. Last night the Flyers had home ice advantage over the Ranger who won 5-2 in a game where the Flyers struggled to look alive on the ice. The Flyers have been consistent only in their mistakes on the ice and have even been finding more ways to loss games. There was no lack of mistakes last night; this team is all around in shambles and there is not one single person to blame. Let’s review:
One of the top scorers for the Flyers, Wayne Simmonds had a very rough night and it is going to be a very rough day in the mirror for Simmonds in light of a few incidents. Last night as Luke Schenn attempted to clear the puck out of the danger zone, it struck Simmonds’ visor-free face sending him to the locker room. Simmonds’ would return to the game with a burst of energy and make a lucky goal in the 2nd period during a power play, where he scored via a puck reflection off of his skate. Finishing out the game battered and bruised, Simmonds set an example for the team, who mostly were asleep during the entire 60 minutes of play. Unfortunately, the night did not simply end there for Simmonds, who also took a few sticks to the face curtsey of the Rangers. Post game Simmonds said:
“..The losses are just a result of us not coming to battle shift after shift. To win games in this league that's what you have to do and it just didn't happen tonight."
One of the best players during the last few games, Ilya Bryzgalov, the goaltender was lights out last night. When the puck was coming, he was no where to be found. Often pucks came against no resistance and an unguarded net. Where was Bryzgalov the entire game? And, why did Laviolette not switch out goaltenders? One of the biggest mistakes Laviolette made during the game was not realizing it was time for a change. As the trade deadline approaches hopefully he will be able to find a talented backup goaltender to add to the roaster. Post game Bryzgalov said:
"For me it seems like one team really was to play and wants to win the game and the other team not so much. It was obvious since the puck was dropped. I think that was the main difference in the game."
During the crucial homestand, right when there needed to be leadership on the ice the team captain Claude Girioux was no where to be found. Nothing much came from Girioux until 3rd period when he got lucky and deflected a shot off of Jakub Voracek’s chest and bounced the puck into the goal. Right at that moment the team was coming back, 3-2 score on the board with plenty of time to turn the game around. That did not happen. It was such a disappointment to see the disconnect between these players.
A super star veteran, Scott Hartnell continues to struggle. Another lack of leadership from one of the Alternate Captains, seeing him not perform is a major disappointment but not a surprise. Hartnell has not really offered much all season, except for cheap shots and shocked looks when he gets sent to the penalty box. It seems as if the Flyers only keep him around in hopes he returns to the shinning hockey player he was in years past. Hartnell is a best player of the past, he has not shown up this season and its time to cut him loose. Hartnell you’re old go home!
The whole unit of the Flyers team completely fell apart last night; the lack of leadership and lack of awareness were among so many of the mistakes that lead to their down fall. The Flyers can pretty much be assured they will not be making play offs with the way they have been playing lately. They would have to win 10 out of 16 games and it is highly unlikely that they will turn it around this late in the season. This season has really put Laviolette in no position to be considered to coach the 2014 USA winter Olympic Hockey team in Russia. The GM and Laviolette have some difficult decisions to make as the trading deadline approaches. The Flyers could use a forward, a back up goaltender and some talent on the blue line. But, will that even be enough to break the ice on this teams problems? Laviolette had a pretty profound reaction post game:
"It's a disappointing night. We needed to compete better than we did and we didn't."
This loss was certainly not the fault of poor coaching, but unprepared players. From watching Laviolette on the bench, it is clear that he is pouring his heart into this team and it is a shame that they are not rising to the occasion. With last night’s loss, the Flyers are 7 points away from a play off spot. With 16 games left in the season, the Flyers face a very challenging schedule. Kimmon Timonen’s post game statement says it all:
"I think it always comes down to individual preparation. You're either ready or play or you're not. A lot of people blame coaches, but if we're out there making plays, like I said you have to be ready to play or not. When you're not ready to play you'll lose one-on-one battles a lot. "
I can only imagine that Coach Laviolette is yelling: “Let’s fucking gitty-up and go”