At season's end Flyers still searching for answers

At season's end Flyers still searching for answers
May 9, 2011, 9:26 pm
Share This Post

Monday, May 9, 2011
Posted: 5:23 p.m.
By Sarah BaickerCSNPhilly.com
On April 26, the Flyers were operating on all cylinders. In their 5-2 defeat of the Buffalo Sabres that propelled them on to the Eastern Conference semifinals, everything was clicking goaltending, defense, power play.

But just four days later, it all collapsed.

By now, the Flyers swift exit from the postseason at the hands of the vengeful Boston Bruins is old news. Arriving at Skate Zone Monday morning, players cleaned out their lockers and said their summer goodbyes. But they still were without answers for or explanations of the cause of their downfall.

We didnt play very well, and they played well and the result was what it was, Brian Boucher said. I dont have an answer as to what exactly went wrong. I think if we had an answer, wed have probably rectified it and wed still be playing. But unfortunately, we just didnt have it, and they had it and the result is what it was.

Theres no question the Flyers were outworked by the Bruins; thats evident simply by the results of the series four games. They were outscored 20-7 by Boston, and gave up an average of five goals per game. Thats not how you win playoff series against high-seeded competition.

That said, the Flyers are still unsure whether those outcomes occurred because of how well the Bruins were playing or how poorly their showing was.

Maybe a little bit of both, Claude Giroux said. Im not too sure what happened in those four games, but were a better hockey team than that. Its just too bad we couldnt find a way to get it done.

The fact is, Boston certainly looked like the better hockey team through practically every period of hockey played in the series. They were more physical, their defense was seemingly impervious and goaltender Tim Thomas was playing Vezina-caliber hockey every night.

The Flyers task was tall but they looked almost as if theyd given up the moment they defeated the Sabres in front of their cheering home crowd.

The Bruins had that look, they had some fight, Sean ODonnell said. It seems like whenever we made a mistake, they were able to capitalize. And when they did make mistakes, Thomas played really well for them. And for whatever reason, we just werent able to match that. We pressed a little bit, we got behind early in some games, and Bostons a team you where dont want to do that, you want to try to get the lead. We werent able to do that. It seemed like we were behind the 8-ball all series.

True, the Flyers entered a rough patch weeks before the postseason had arrived. Given multiple opportunities to clinch the No. 1 overall spot in the Eastern Conference, they failed. But at the time, players echoed each other in a belief that theyd be able to flip a switch once the playoffs finally commenced. After all, thats what theyd been playing the entire 82-game regular season for.

But when the time came, they floundered. There were high points of course, but for the most part, the success of the team that took the Wells Fargo Center ice during the first half of the season seemed a distant memory once the semifinals began.

I dont know, maybe there was a fatigue thing, ODonnell said. It certainly seemed like before December or January, this was going to be a very, very tough team to beat. And then for whatever reason, we just werent able to get it back to that stage. We were in spurts, but not consistently.

Three days after their elimination from Stanley Cup contention, a number of players pointed fingers at that inconsistency as a big reason for their early summer vacation.

You never want to be going into the playoffs inconsistent or searching for your identity, Chris Pronger said. You want to kind of already have that in place. Much like last year, where we went through a ton of adversity, a lot of ups and downs, but leading up to the playoffs the last month, we really grinded hard and really got into the right mode of how you need to play in the playoffs to be successful everybodys got to buy in, youve got to be willing to sacrifice and youve got to be playing very well as a team and as units of five out on the ice.

This year it seemed like we were a little inconsistent for much of the second half. At some point, that inconsistency is going to catch up with you, which it did.

The Flyers now have until training camp starts in September to reflect on their efforts of this year more than five weeks more than they had after reaching the Cup final last season.

And though, as ODonnell suggested, time will ease the large sense of disappointment, there will be plenty of reminders of how the season ended as the weeks progress.

Its disappointing, coming in here and packing things up and saying your goodbyes and all that kind of stuff, Scott Hartnell said. Were not where we wanted to be. Its so frustrating watching it on TV and knowing youre not going to be in the mix for the Cup.
E-mail Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Greenberg: Flyers in trouble if Pronger on downside Offseason surgery for Richards, four other Flyers