Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Look At The Flyers

went to the hockey game yesterday and watched the philadelphia flyers take a bad loss against the new york islanders.

if hockey was scored on the number of shots and puck possession -- as bobby clarke seems to think it is -- the flyers would have won that game going away... unfortunately hockey games are won and lost on goals scored.

it seems to me that this team is chock full of "just another guy" type players and that without forsberg they have no offensive creativity. also, symptomatic of the overall lack of skill on the team, at least 5 guys completely whiffed on passes yesterday under little to no pressure from the opponent.

taking a player by player look at the roster:

- Derian Hatcher - is completely lost in the new NHL game. i hope he's still recovering from his surgery, because right now he literally spends most of his time just standing around watching guys fly around him left and right. his head spins around constantly like he's trying to get his bearings and he moves like he's stuck in the mud.

- Mike Rathje - the new luke richardson. a big guy who doesn't really hit and is a fourth defenseman at best. nothing special about his game.

- Kim Johnsson - some offensive skill, fairly mobile, but isn't a top flight player. he's a decent fourth defenseman.

- Chris Therien - isn't an NHL caliber defenseman at this point in his career. not that he was a force when he was younger, but at least he could hold his own in the corners. right now, he's easy to knock off the puck, doesn't hit anyone, and is a liability as a passer and shooter.

- Patrick Sharp - marginal NHL player

- Jon Sim - marginal NHL player

- Simon Gagne - can be a second tier star if paired with a superstar, but is rather one dimensional. he has a good shot and a quick release, but can't carry the puck and isn't a great passer. he's a mike gartner type player at best and i think he's best suited for a second line.

- Jeff Carter - probably the most impressive player for the flyers yesterday. plays much longer than 6-3 and reminds me somewhat of mats sundin in terms of wingspan and his ability to carry the puck in open ice. needs to put some mass on his bones as he is too easy to push off the puck and doesn't bring enough of a load when he puts his shoulder into people. has a good shot and a quick release. i think he can develop into a top line quality player if he is able to compete better for the puck. his niftyness with the puck through the neutral zone is an asset.

- Mike Richards - i hope there is more to him than i've seen so far this year. what's his upside? mike ricci? what was all the hype about? richards played between gagne and knuble yesterday and was invisible. i would have liked to see hitchcock try carter on the top line for portions of the game. i see a future for richards as a third line player.

- Branko Radivojevic - high effort guy who doesn't give you much else. he's a fourth line player.

- R.J. Umberger - seems like a decent prospect. haven't seen enough of him to form much of an opinion.

- Peter Forsberg - the most offensively skilled player i've ever seen on the flyers. i heard in sweden they call him "the magic boy," and i can see why. he is consistently great, which i never got a feel for seeing him only a few times a season.

- Mike Knuble - good player, nice shot. best suited for the second line imo.

- Sami Kapanen - was really quite fast and nimble as a young player, but time and injuries seem to have taken their toll. still a good penalty killer.

- Keith Primeau - primeau is the new brind a'mour. flyers fans love him and i can't figure out why. he's a good but not great player and best suited for the third line.

- Michal Handzus - he's similar to primeau but he's a little more physical and a little less offensively skilled

- Turner Stevenson - just a guy

- Dennis Seidenberg - marginal NHL player

- Antero Niittymaki - have seen him play some great games, but he can be had.

- Eric Desjardins - he's the flyers best defenseman and has been for a while... which is a problem. i've always said that if eric desjardins is your best defenseman then you have problems. he's a very good player, don't get me wrong, but he's not a top tier guy. he should be one of the best number 2 defensemen in the league, instead he's stuck as one of the worst number 1 defensemen in the league.

- Robert Esche - an average to above average goaltender, but nothing special. not sure why clarke refuses to get himself a stud goalie. does he really think the flyers would have won a cup without parent playing out of his mind?

- Joni Pitkanen - lots of potential, but mentally seems to be a little fragile. appears to lose confidence easily and can go in the tank when he does.

- Brian Savage - just a guy

- Donald Brashear - great fighter and a scary guy on the ice (both for opponents who are intimidated by his freakish strength and for me whenever i have to watch his stone hands)

this is a stanley cup contending squad? seriously, what's so great about this team after forsberg? ottawa is the best team i've seen this season, and the reason is that they have blue chip talent (alfredsson, heatley, spezza, redden) that the flyers just can't compete with.

CLARKE MUST GO!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was an awful game, I agree, though I disagree with your summation of a couple players.

Nittymaki could be the guy. Too many teams know Esche's weaknesses.

Richards sucks, Therian sucks. We really need help with defense.

If Forseberg is healthy, Gagne is on fire because everyone watches Forseberg. Both are great when both are healthy.

Primeau has heart and is a great leader. He's not a tier 1 guy, but he's good enough to have on a second line.
Handzus is the man. He's strong enough to keep the puck when pressured, and keeps his head about him, so that he can pass to the open man quickly and accurately.

Kapanen is still doing rehab for rotator cuff re-attachment surgery, give him another month.

That's enugh for now. I don't know about the cup, but they make it into the 2nd round this year. I think Hitch needs to rethink the lines, and trade for some better legged D guys.

- Joe

3:27 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Nittymaki could be the guy. Too many teams know Esche's weaknesses.

i hope so. it seems like he struggles a little with shots to his left side, but at least with him there is hope. i think esche is what he is.

If Forseberg is healthy, Gagne is on fire because everyone watches Forseberg. Both are great when both are healthy

forsberg without gagne is great, while gagne without forsberg isn't great. based on that i think it's reasonable to deduct that gagne needs forsberg to be great, so really that speaks to forsberg more than gagne.

Primeau has heart and is a great leader. He's not a tier 1 guy, but he's good enough to have on a second line.

i have no problem with primeau, but look at the teams who have won cups and you generally have 2 great scoring centers. detroit had yzerman and fedorov, dallas had modano and nieuwendyk, and colorado had sakic and forsberg. primeau can't hold any of those guys' jocks. new jersey got away with not having great centers because they had an uber-elite goalie and a star-studded defensive corps (desjardin would have been no better than a 3rd or 4th defenseman on the devils).

Handzus is the man. He's strong enough to keep the puck when pressured, and keeps his head about him, so that he can pass to the open man quickly and accurately.

handzus is just a guy. on a stanley cup winning team, he'd be one of the important role players and nothing more. you can't win a cup with a team full of muckers and grinders. you need them to do the dirty work so you need some to win, but they cannot form the core of your team. based on results in philadelphia, minnesota, florida, and philadelphia again clarke should have learned this by now, but alas no. we're stuck watching the same friggin' team on repeat for the last 8 years.

in his defense, it's not just clarkie. this team was the last to sign a russian player (to their own detriment). no matter who's the gm, they constantly choose grit over talent (ricci over jagr, brind a'mour over forsberg, richards over whoever). i'd give you any odds you wanted that if the flyers had chosen either jagr over ricci OR forsberg over brind a'mour you'd be looking at a multiple cup winner. pair either of those guys with a young lindros and you would have had a chance every year.

8:13 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that we need a better second line, and I definitely agree that in the past Clarke chose grit over talent. I think Hitch is getting to him though...


-Joe

3:05 PM EST  

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