There's probably not a whole lot of small details or minor lessons the Flyers or any of us fans want to remember about Saturday's absolute ass-kicking at the hands of the Boston Bruins. One thing's for sure though, while they need to move on and play as if that game didn't happen, it was a good wake-up call that they're not quite where they need to be. Right now, they're good enough to have a fun regular season ride with all the usual ups and downs. But are they good enough to make a deep playoff run, or go all the way to a Cup?
While it was only one game, that 6-0 loss to last year's champs was indeed a measuring stick, and the Flyers came up very short. Of course, they were without some key players, including their top forward and top defenseman, and it appears we'll get the former back soon. But the latter may never be, and Saturday should show the Flyers the level they need to aspire for between now and, way down the road, the playoffs.
The road continues in Denver tonight, where the Flyers begin a five-game road trip with a 9PM start against the Avalanche. A former Cup-winning goalie tandem highlights the storylines.
Ilya Bryzgalov will try to put a five-goal performance behind him and get back to his winning ways. He'll face JS Giguere, the man he once served as a backup to when both played for the Anaheim Ducks. Remember the degree to which Giggy's star was on the rise back then?
One of the many things that went wrong for the Flyers on Saturday was a woeful performance on the penalty kill (although it's not easy when you're down two men). They'll have to either stay out of the box (preferred) or improve in that regard, because despite not having much in the way of a dangerous even strength attack, the Avalanche are among the league's best on the power play.
The Flyers' PP wasn't too hot against the Bruins either, failing to score on six opportunities. It's somewhat understandable, as the roster has been shaken up without Pronger and Giroux, who each play PP, SH, and even strength.
Fortunately, it sounds like the Flyers could be closer to getting Giroux back, perhaps in time for this weekend. We just hope he's 100%, or else there's really no sense in risking it at this still-early stage of the season.
Before last game, we had some thoughts as to who should step up with Giroux out. Now, Sean Couturier has joined him on the shelf for a bit, and Danny Briere is likely to skate with former lineman Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr. Considering that Briere and Hartnell got each other back on track in a big way when paired up for the 2010 playoffs and continued a good run last season, they should be pretty familiar with what each other can do. In fact, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see this line be Lavvy's first choice, swapping Ville Leino for Jagr. There could be some nice chemistry here…
Still hoping JVR steps up and dominates a game soon…
Wayne Simmonds saw a career-long goal-scoring streak snapped in the shutout, but he remained active around the crease. Maybe he starts a new one tonight.
Ben Holmstrom gets a cup of coffee tonight as well, possibly on an all-youngin fourth line with some combination of Harry Z, Tom Sestito, and Zac Rinaldo. Hard to say exactly what the lines will be after the top unit, and Lavvy could move some guys around, trying to find something that clicks with a very makeshift lineup that is missing centers Giroux, Couturier, and also Brayden Schenn.
Good read from Frank Seravalli on the current roster situation, plus Marc-Andre Bourdon's nickname: [Daily News]
Fortunately, the 'Lanche haven't been particularly noteworthy this season. They're 15-17-1, and they've lost four of their last six. Two of their four December wins came in the shootout (hopefully we'll be spared that). The Flyers have fared much better over their past handful of games, but that one loss really stands out. Time to show some resiliency, bounce back and beat an inferior team, even with a pretty Phantom'd up set of lower lines.
Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US Presswire