Unless you managed to avoid newspapers, television, the
Internet, talk radio, or interaction with another human being in the Delaware
Valley this morning, you no doubt have already heard the Flyers lost 5-2 to the
New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
That’s nothing new of course, only this time the Bullies’
playoff chances are being pronounced dead at the scene – the proverbial final
nail driven into their coffin, and the first shovel full of dirt dumped on top
for good measure. Appropriately enough, the Wells Fargo Center sang the Orange
& Black out of the arena to a hymn of boos, while the dressing room was as
somber as a wake afterward.
Cause of death? We’ll have to wait awhile for the autopsy
results, but people closest to the victim are describing it as a lack of
That’s more or less what Wayne Simmonds had to say after the
game, claiming his mates haven’t put up a fight each and every time they’ve
stepped on to the ice this season. That echoes statements Kimmo Timonen has
been making for the last few weeks, and again after this most recent defeat,
suggesting reporters stick a microphone in each and every players’ face and ask
them why they aren’t ready to play.
Even captain Claude Giroux admitted the Flyers weren’t “ready.” [click here for
video of their post-game statements]
But just who exactly are the offenders here?
Giroux has fallen far short of incredible expectations this
season, but who is watching him skate and thinking to themselves, “That dude
isn’t trying hard enough.”
No sane person would dare question the effort of a
consummate pro like Timonen, who enjoyed a lengthy celebration of his 1,000
games played in the NHL prior to puck drop on Tuesday.
It sure as hell wasn’t Simmonds, either, who took a puck to
the face early in the tilt only to return and score Philly’s first goal – one
that briefly felt like it might rally the troops.
Even general manager Paul Holmgren laid the blame almost
entirely at his players’ feet two weeks ago, saying he would like to see the
boys “compete better.”
Well, where are the slackers?
Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell have parroted the same
lines, so obviously not among the ranks of leadership. Briere and Hartnell,
along with Matt Read and Andrej Meszaros, have all rushed back from injuries
this year, while guys like Nicklas Grossmann and Zac Rinaldo are clearly putting
their bodies on the line every night. Long-time veterans Simon Gagne, Max
Talbot, and Ruslan Fedotenko have hoisted the Stanley Cup, so they know what it
takes to compete at the highest level. Then there are young kids who have
everything in the world to prove, from Jakub Voracek and the Schenns whose spots
are somewhat solidified, to the Tye McGinns and Harry Zolnierczyks scraping for
every last second of ice time. Oh, and lest we forget that Ilya Bryzgalov NEVER
Get out of here with that stuff. Outsiders who would cast doubt
on an athlete’s effort has always been a pet peeve of mine, not because it’s
never true, but because typically it’s completely, 100% unsubstantiated. Only in
this instance it isn’t fans or members of the media making accusations by and
large, but instead seemingly anybody and everybody associated with the
It’s nothing more than an excuse, and not even a very good
one. The Flyers aren’t winning because the opponent is usually better, it’s
The real question is whether or not that should be the case.
The Flyers as they are currently constituted have their share of flaws, but is
there any legitimate reason why with their talent they should be ranked 14th
out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference right now? Sorry, I have some trouble
This isn’t tee ball. Everybody trying their hardest is not a
Yes, going forward the front office must do a better job of equipping
this team with the pieces it needs to compete for a championship, whichever
parts you armchair GMs out there think are most important. That being said,
clearly there is a much bigger issue on Broad Street. Either these guys truly
are not working hard enough, or they are keeping quiet about the real problem.
Which is fine. Nobody can blame the locker room for sticking
together, in fact it may even be a good sign. Then again, maybe they simply don’t
have the answer – and that’s the scary part.
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