Some Flyers-oriented observations from the Stanley Cup Finals:
• Nothing trumps scoring touch in the NHL these days. Not systems, not muscle, not goaltending, not effort or energy, not even Peter Laviolette’s "jam."
Their scoring depth allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to emerge from the first two games, in which they did not play particularly well, with home-ice victories. After building a 3-0 lead in Game 1, the Penguins went 37 minutes without a shot on goal, then scored on rookie Jake Guentzel’s shot that broke that span. That 5-3 loss, and the ensuing one, left Nashville with little wriggle room, and when goalie Pekka Rinne coughed up a huge hairball in Game 5, none at all.
Oh, and Patric Hornqvist, the ex-Predator who scored the Cup-deciding goal, had 21 goals and 23 assists this season, and nine points in the playoffs. He was the final pick of the 2005 NHL draft.
The Flyers have 11 picks in the coming draft.
• Two good goalies playing to their potential are better than one hot goalie. Sorry, Steve Mason, but having a poster of Martin Brodeur on your wall is not enough. You actually have to be him for this not to be true. With two Cups to his credit in two years, Matt Murray might well be in that class. We’ll see. But the Penguins wouldn't have made it this far without the luxury of dusting off goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for much of this run.
That said, Rinne was the latest piece of evidence that an elite goaltender can cover a lot of flaws. Until the Finals, he was great, particularly at home. Lavvy should build a house for both Cam Ward, the Carolina goalie who reportedly is on the trade market, and Rinne. And have Michael Leighton help build it.
OK, that’s not fair. Leighton played far beyond what his resume suggested during the Flyers' 2010 Stanley Cup run and before it. Still, given the manner in which Laviolette has now lost two Cup Finals, the next goalie who provides him an unlikely long run better cover the side of the net late in the sixth game of the Cup Finals, if you get my drift.
For their own health as well as Lavvy’s.
• Here’s a thought going forward: Encourage officials not to blow their whistle immediately when they lose sight of the puck. The original intent of having them do so was to protect the goaltender from unspeakable hacking and abuse, but 99.999 percent of the time, that doesn’t even come into play.
A few seconds of search and find won’t hurt anyone and will eliminate the embarrassing occurrence of negating one goal in a deciding game. Now, I would allow them to negate the goal if replays showed the goaltender was in control of the puck during those seconds of search. But that to me is more preferable than what happened Sunday night.
• In the context of Ron Hextall’s original mission statement when taking over as GM, Flyers fans should not embrace the Predators' unlikely long run in these playoffs. For too long, through several previous managements, far too much value was placed on ''just getting into the playoffs’’ because then ''anything can happen.’’ When he was promoted, Hextall rejected this mentality, preaching a well-built team capable of recurring runs. After this season’s disappointment, I thought I heard some wavering from that.
I hope not.
• Oh yeah, there’s also this, the most obvious take of all:
Turns out, Claude Giroux is not better than Sidney Crosby.