I don't enjoy writing this any more than you will enjoy reading it. But it is something that needs to be said. The Flyers are not that good. Sure they are 4th in the conference and have a shot at overtaking the Devils for the Atlantic Division title. Sure they have 6 players with 17 or more goals. Sure they have far and away the most shorthanded goals in the NHL. Sure Daniel Briere has not even played this season.
Here are my main gripes with the Orange and Black thus far.
My problem with the Flyers is that they are a "points" team, not a "win" team. 31 wins is just alright. It is the 9 overtime losses that kill me. Take away those 9 overtime loss points, and we are tied with Pittsburgh for 10th in the Eastern Conference. And folks come playoff time, points don't win you playoff series. An overtime loss in the playoffs means that you are one game closer to elimination. This team needs to start solidifying their dominance from start to finish and stop with the uninspired fluky play. The past two games the Flyers and "hot handed" Martin Biron have given up 3 goals in the second period alone. This is after taking leads and being given opportunities to score. Good teams just don't allow slides like this to happen. I will give the Flyers credit however, for coming back to dominate the third period against the Sabres. But why put yourself in that position?
Goaltending. Now I am not in any way, shape, or form for trading our number 2 overall draft pick James vanRiemsdyk for inconsistent Kari Lehtonen of the Hotlanta Thrashers. That would be one of the worst moves in Flyers history. But one of our two underachieving goalies needs to step up. I vote for Antero Nittymaki. This is the MVP of the '06 Winter Olympics and a Calder Cup winner for the Phantoms. I think that he needs to be shown the confidence to be the number 1 starter for the team, without having to look behind his back. As for Biron, there isn't a nicer guy on the team. His personality and kindness really speaks a lot about this man as a person. But as a goalie he flat out sucks. He doesn't have a strength and in my eyes he has never proven himself. Two good playoff rounds last year isn't enough for me to have full trust in a career backup. Biron doesn't control rebounds, makes saves that not even he realizes he's making, and as soon as he lets one goal in the rest of the cards that hold up the house crumble. I am nervous with him in net because he is flat out not dominant. He gets hot, but you never know when he'll start to cool off. Sorry Marty.
Defense. Kimo Timonen may get the points, but I haven't seen the premiere defenseman that we saw from him last year. His shot isn't there and he hasn't been shut-down for long stretches of time this year. Randy Jones is probably the most frustrating blue-liner this team "boasts." This man makes too many bone-headed passes in our own zone and has trouble controlling the puck in the offensive zone. He just doesn't seem all there at times.
Just some notables and desires from a passionate fan...
Not to get too nit-picky but... where has Jeff Carter gone? 0 goals in his last 5, and just 2 goals in his last 9. Those wristers just don't seem to be finding the lanes that they were earlier in the year. I love you Jeff, and I've always supported you. But please don't fall into your streaky play that has defined you over the past 3 years. Personal goals can be unhelpful to teams, but putting this team on your shoulders can help elevate you to 50 goals. Give yourself a bar to meet and work towards it.
Let's get Braydon Coburn some more shots on goal. I see a powerful slapshot with some accuracy on days when he's feeling it. Some better designed power play shots for him might help break the slump that the 3rd ranked power play has been experiencing.
I'm not denouncing my support and belief of this team by any means. I am simply stating that they are not playing up to their potential. More goals, more power play goals, and Nittymaki stepping up.