In Uncategorized on November 13, 2008 at 5:50 am



At the beginning of the season things couldn’t look better for the Philadelphia Flyers. They were coming off of a season where they had knocked off Montreal, the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Ultimately they fell to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, but not before raising some eyebrows. All in all, it was a very impressive season after the dismal showing they had the year before. So after a start of six consecutive losses to open the season (three counted for an overtime point), which has turned into a 4-4-3 record to start the season, many Flyers fans are rightly asking the same question. What the Hell is going on here?

Personally, my problems run deep due to the fact that my fantasy hockey team is cornered around Simone Gagne, Joffrey Lupul, and Martin Biron. But I’m sure I’m not the only one that expected more from the Flyers to start the season.  For my part, I’m just glad I didn’t invest in the injured Danny Briere as well.

It is hard not to blame the usual suspects for the Flyer’s underperformance, that is, defense and goaltending. For the Flyers these problems are starting to resemble a chronic illness more and more. Martin Biron has simply not come through thus far. A .874 Save Percentage is not close enough to the .900 threshold a starting goaltender should have at minimum, and the 3.79 Goals Against Average is on the verge of embarrassing. When Philly picked Biron up from Buffalo two years ago I thought they were stealing the better goaltender from the Biron and Ryan Miller tandom. Buffalo seemed like a team that never gave Biron the chance to shine by forcing him to play under Miller. But here we are two years later with Miller’s star rising and Biron struggling to hold his position from Flyers’ backup Antero Nittymaki.

To be fair, it is not entirely Biron’s fault (although most of it is), Biron takes an average of 32 shots a game in his starts so far, including a whopping 45 from San Jose on October 18th. With an extremely young defense led by Kimmo Timonen and 23-year-old Braydon Coburn it is hard to imagine Philadelphia’s defense coming together without bringing in some more experience before the season is out. The Flyers have shown themselves to be top-heavy on the offense with Gagne, Richards, Briere, and Carter all capable of hitting the thirty goal mark- but no big name in defense to hold it all together.  Teams built only around an offense can fail easily, just look at Tampa Bay’s last season. And now with the rumors floating around of trying to bring sniper Brendan Shanahan to Philly, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what is going through GM Paul Holmgren’s head.

Two things need to be fixed for the Flyers to have any realistic chance in going far this season. First is an improved defense in front of Biron, and second is for Biron to step up his game.  He can still be the number one- he proved that in the playoffs last year- but he can’t do it alone. Nittymaki cannot be a reliable starter, and Biron is not worth anything unless given that number one spot. His stint in Buffalo proved that. Until something is done internally or someone brought in to keep the shots seen by Biron to fewer than 30, I sadly see the Flyers struggling to even reach where they fell short last season.


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