Free advice for Flyers
The Philadelphia Inquirer Blog - Flyers Report: Broad Street Bull
Free advice for Flyers
Sam Carchidi, Inquirer Staff Writer
First things first: The Flyers looked pathetic in the first period Saturday en route to a 4-1 loss in New Jersey.
Afterward, new coach Peter Laviolette ripped the team's lack of desire on the boards and their curious absence of energy _ after he had given them off on Friday "just so we'd have some jump."
It took only five games, but Laviolette is already at the boiling point.
Think how GM Paul Holmgren feels. He fired his coach and has seen the Flyers look even worse under their new boss.
The Flyers have lost seven of their last eight _ and they have scored a grand total of six goals in those seven defeats.
Here, free of charge, is some advice to remedy the situation.
1. Bring up winger Stefan Legein from the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. He had nine goals in his first 18 games with the AHL club, and he has to be better than the other minor-league callups.
2. Be patient. The worst is almost over. In other words, Holmgren shouldn't make a panic trade unless he's really knocked over by a can't-refuse offer. Simon Gagne, Darroll Powe and Blair Betts are on the verge of coming back from injuries. That will bring some semblance of order to the sputtering offense.
3. When Gagne is healthy (he's almost ready), put him with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux to form a French Connection. Yes, the line is a little smallish, but it has the speed and creativity to give opponents fits. This team is lacking an identity, and putting those three players together would help establish one.
4. Move the snakebitten Jeff Carter to right wing on a line with Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell. And let them play together for at least 10 games to see if they can build a chemistry. In a full season, they could score 100 goals.
5. When Gagne returns, move James van Riemsdyk (goal-less in his last 12 games) down to the third line with Powe and Arron Asham. JVR has hit a wall, and he will have a lot less pressure playing on a third line. And don't underestimate the value of the gritty fourth line _ Dan Carcillo, Betts and Ian Laperriere. Carcillo returns from a supsension on Monday in Boston.
Those four lines are much more sound than the dreck that has been out there the last few weeks.
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After Saturday's game, David Laliberte was sent to the Phantoms to make room for Carcillo. Laliberte played just four minutes Saturday.
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The Flyers signed free-agent John Grahame to a tryout contract with the Phantoms. He is expected to be the Phantoms' backup, Holmgren said.
Grahame, who played in Russia last season, gives the organization some goalie depth. Flyers starter Ray Emery is expected to be sidelined for six weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery.
There is a chance Grahame, 34, could play himself into shape and replace Johan Backlund as Brian Boucher's backup.
Grahame played parts of two seasons for Laviolette in Carolina. Neither season was impressive. In 2006-07, he was 10-13-2 with a 2.85 GAA and .897 save percentage. The next year, he was 5-7-1 with a 3.75 GAA and .875 save percentage.
In parts of eight NHL seasons, Grahame was 97-86-14-4 with Boston, Tampa Bay and Carolina, along with a 2.79 GAA and .898 save percentage.
Grahame's best season was in 2003-04, when he went 18-9-1 with a 2.06 GAA and .913 save percentage for Tampa.