07 May 2011

Tough Break

Another Flyers season has come and gone and once again has left us fans with more questions than answers.  After reaching down and pulling together with grit and determination to come back and beat the Buffalo Sabres in Games 6 and 7 to take the first round series, the Flyers basically phoned in the effort the rest of the way.  Aside from Game 2 against the Bruins, they were never really in it.  Mike Richards, as team captain, did not step up and give the guys any sort of jump start as he has been known to do.  There were times when it looked like he had somewhere else that he'd rather be.  As a fan it was tough to watch, mainly because there were such high hopes for the team since even before the season started.  The obvious question though was going to surround the goaltending and whether or not it would be strong enough to endure a deep Stanley Cup run.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they stumbled upon a rookie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who looked as though he was going to be the savior for Flyers hockey and the years of goaltending worries.  He had a brilliant first half of the season, where at times he looked like a 10 year veteran that could strap the team on his shoulders and carry them to Stanley Cup glory.  Down the stretch though, it looked as though he was starting to show his inexperience and the Flyers started to fall with him.  That inconsistency plagued both the goaltending and the Flyers as a team and as a result they found themselves ousted from the playoffs, leaving us with our 5 favorite words as Philadelphians... "Well, there's always next year."

There were some bright spots amidst all of that though.  In his sophomore year with the Flyers, James van Riemsdyk showed that he does have the ability to become what the Flyers scouting team saw when they drafted him 4 years ago.  He showed an ability to use his strength and speed to go to the outside on a defender and then use his size to make his way back to the front of the net.  For the first time in these playoffs, I finally thought that maybe, just maybe, JVR wouldn't turn out to be a bust.  Another bright spot was the play of Claude Giroux.  Now, this isn't that surprising because we all know how talented he is.  There was only one thing that essentially stopped Giroux from becoming a playoff legend in Philadelphia, and that was the Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas.  In each game against Boston, Giroux made something out of nothing time and time again, creating scoring chances on ridiculous 1 on 3 efforts and making precision passes to guys that half of the fans in attendance didn't even see.  What will keep us and the national media from remembering his effort is the lack of finish on those plays.  Thanks to brilliant saves by Thomas, Giroux's wizardry with the puck will go largely unnoticed.  The good news is that he will be with this team for years to come and I am looking forward to that.  And then there is Sergei Bobrovsky.  Remember, this was his first year in the NHL so there is definitely something to build on there.  He has the talent, the quickness and the athleticism to become a top goalie in this league.  He wore down a bit at the end, but that was also the most minutes he has played in a single season ever.  While playing in Russia, his previous high for minutes played was 1,964.  In his first season with the Flyers he played 3,017 minutes.  That's a significant increase for someone who wasn't used to getting that kind of playing time.  Hopefully, Bob will learn from this season, work on his fundamentals and his conditioning and come back strong next year.

Thanks Flyers for another year of playoff hockey.  Let's do it again next year.

So, with the end of the Flyers hockey season, that leaves Phillies baseball as the main focus.  The Phils look strong again this year and hopefully when Chase Utley comes back, he will return to his All-Star form and really put this team in a position to win another championship.

But, that'll be a topic for another day...

Song on iTunes:
Incubus | Adolescents