BOSTON _ This is what we learned from the Flyers’ humiliating four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins: It turns out, you CANNOT turn the switch on after playing mediocre hockey in the last six weeks of the regular season.
The Flyers blew the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed by wining just seven of their last 21 regular-season games (7-8-6) after Feb. 26. They regrouped and barely beat Buffalo in seven first-round playoff games, then were outplayed from Beantown to Broomall as they were outscored by the Bruins, 20-7, in the conference semifinals.
Boston concluded the series with a misleading 5-1 win Friday night. The game was actually tied at 1-1 early in the third period, and the Bruins scored a pair of empty-net goals toward the end.
Seven goals in four games. That’s an indictment on an offense that struggled toward the end of the regular season and carried it into the playoffs.
Including the end of the regular season and the playoffs, here are the gruesome numbers:
- Claude Giroux, whose playmaking was excellent in the playoffs, had two goals in his last 21 games.
- Mike Richards, who had one goal in 11 post-season games, had three goals in his last 20 games.
- Ville Leino had five goals in his last 25 games.
- Jeff Carter had three goals in his last 14 games. Give Carter a pass for having just one playoff goal in six games because he was bothered by a painful knee injury.
- Kris Versteeg and Scott Hartnell each had one goal in 11 playoff games.
In addition to the lack of offense, the Flyers’ goaltending struggled mightily in the post-season. Some of it had to do with the way coach Peter Laviolette shuffled the goalies like a deck of cards. Some of it had to do with poor play.
It says here that 22-year-old rookie Sergei Bobrovsky is a keeper, but he needs to be eased into the situation. Signing Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov, a soon-to-be free agent, would be the perfect complement to “Bob.” Bryzgalov is also Russian, and he would help Bobrovsky’s development, on and off the ice.
The Flyers will need to be creative to sign Bryzgalov, and it may mean they can’t resign Leino, and that they have to move one of the high-priced defensemen to clear cap space.
Do it. End the goalie madness. Play Bryzgalov, say, 55 games and Bobrovsky the other 27.
If it's too difficult to get Bryzgalov under the cap, then deal for Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier or Vancouver's Cory Schneider, second-stringers with their respective teams only because they are behind first-rate goalkeepers.
The Flyers skaters wouldn’t say it, but there had to be a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling of being outmatched, created by the seven in-game goalie switches during the 11 playoff games.
That’s not fair to the team. It deserves better.
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.
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