When Chuck Fletcher took over as the General Manager of the Flyers a few weeks ago, he envisioned a swift moving rebuild. Fletcher is committed to keeping the house that Hextall has built, but wants to win ASAP. He has inherited a young Flyers team that is just flat-out inconsistent, and a lot of it has to do with their Defense and Goaltending.
Let’s face it, the Flyers Defense has been leakier than a leaking faucet all season long. As a matter of fact the Defense has been inconsistent for the past few years. How do we fix this problem? Well, by getting back to the basics, or the drawing board some may say. With former Head Coach Dave Hakstol away from this team, maybe just maybe we can implement the attack style Defense.
Bad Line Changes
The Flyers Defense have been riddled with bad line changes all season, and that has led to odd man rushes the other way. Team Defense is a five man unit not two. Our Goaltenders are just not good enough to inherit these bad line changes that have led to 3-on-1’s or 2-on-1’s. Hockey is a fast paced sport, I get it. But, c’mon now.
Clearing The Porch
Year after year the Flyers have trouble clearing the porch. Once again our Goaltenders have to see the puck. They are average Goaltenders that cannot make save after save with deflections or screens. Opponents just camp out in the slot, or in the crease knowing there is no price to pay do so. Moreover, the Flyers box in…in front of the Goaltender sometimes as well to block shots, thus screening our own Goaltenders in the process. Simply put, they have to do a better job in this area. Samuel Morin can clear the porch when he returns to full health in February, following a conditioning stint with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Failing To Pick Up The Trailer
Mannnnnnnnnny times this season there’s a 2-on-2 rush, and the Flyers Defense fails to pick up the trailer. The trailer more often than not, then roofs a shot high over the glove of our netminder for the easy goal. This has been happening a ton this season. They continue to get burnt, but fail to rectify this glaring issue. It makes it seem like the two Defensemen just aren’t communicating on who’s got who. Get back to the basics by talking to one another on the ice. Communication is one key to success.
Out of Position
How many times this season have we seen three Flyers players caught behind, or to the side of net with an opponent open in the slot. This leads to a tic tac toe goal more often than not. How does this continue to happen. Again communication, who’s got who, and who should be where. This has led to Andrew MacDonald sprawling on the ice more often than not this season.
Under former Head Coach Dave Hakstol he was hesitant to adopt the attack style Defense, not just on 5-on-5, but on the Penalty Kill, as well. There’s no reason why the Defensemen cannot be aggressive. Moreover, there’s no reason why our Defensemen, and Forwards cannot stand opponents up at the blue line. Adopting the attack style Defensive system would force their opponents into a dump and chase system, thus making them more predictable. It would also force their opponents to think faster by limiting space, thus creating more mistakes.
This young team in the Flyers have become more aggressive at times on the penalty kill here as of late, and it’s been quite noticeable. However, you can’t do it sometimes and other times not. Hopefully, newly anointed Interim Head Coach in Scott Gordon will develop the attack style Defensive system while 5-on-5, which would then filter into the PK. What’s there to lose. They need to limit space throughout the neutral zone, and this system does just that.
Defense wins championships, even in this day and age. Fortunately, the Flyers have had some good, solid Defense from Travis Sanheim, and Radko Gudas. Sanheim should be playing in upwards of 20 minutes a night from here on out. Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Andrew MacDonald have to pick up their play to give the Goaltenders (Most notably Carter Hart) a fighting chance.
Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports