As you all know, this Philadelphia Flyers team has not been what anyone would have expected. Their season started slow with offensive and defensive troubles. Briere didn’t show up as he was expected, Giroux got off to a slow start, not all players are repeating last year’s stellar season, and Bryz has slowed down after a hot start.
Ilya Bryzgalov played like a Vezina goaltender to keep the Flyers alive early in the season. Now that time has passed, Bryz has become tired and has been brought back down to Earth. He can no longer make up for the bad defense or offense to win hockey games. He is still capable of stealing a game, like Friday night in New Jersey, but not with defense that doesn’t help him get in a rhythm. If the Flyers want their #1 goalie to start playing like a #1, they need to play better in front of him from now on.
Everyone loves to poke fun at Bryz for his cap hit that doesn’t match his play, but if we really want to talk about salary, let’s talk about Danny Briere. Bryz has been more beneficial with a lower cap hit than Briere has with a higher. If we want to bash players for their contracts, let’s do it to the players who are worse and have worse contracts. Briere has yet to really show up this season, and it’s killing the Flyers. He continues to be a defensive liability and isn’t worth keeping around much longer. Everyone doesn’t want him to leave because of his play in the playoffs, but with the way this season is heading, there will be no playoffs. If you can get a trade for him do it, or amnesty No. 48 at the end of the year.
The next man up is Claude Giroux. Oh Claude, the budding superstar who is claimed to be better than Sidney Crosby. The hard truth is that he is nowhere near the caliber of Crosby at the moment. Giroux is on pace to be a little under a point per game player, which isn’t bad, but he needs to be better. He has been streaky, only showing up every couple games. As captain he should be showing up more, and getting this team sparked to win big games. Instead, he doesn’t show up in big games, and cries during his postgame interview with the media again. I am not saying he is a bad captain, but he needs to step up and prove himself as a captain and elite player.
Out of this lost, mess of a season there have a few bright spots. Wayne Simmonds continues to play his heart out, Jake Voracek is turning into a star in this league, Luke Schenn is becoming a solid defenseman, Zac Rinaldo is becoming a solid NHL player, and Nicklas Grossman continues to play well, like a solid top defenseman.
Hopefully the positives start to outweigh the negatives and Philly sneaks into the NHL playoffs.