It’s been no secret the Flyers have struggled quite a bit so far this season. Saturday night they lost for the fifth time in seven games losing 5-4 to the Washington Capitals.
Once again they got of to a bad start going down 2-0 after the first period. It has been a pattern that has become extremely frustrating and while it’s easy to put all of the blame on the defense, it isn’t the only major issue with this Flyers team.
Yes, the defense has been bad, very bad. The defensive problems should be fixed within the next few weeks once Chuck Fletcher pulls the trigger on the Ekholm trade(No, it’s not definite but it’s a very high possibility). Even if it doesn’t end up being Ekholm I’m fairly confident that Fletcher will make a trade to improve the defense and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
Most people think once we get a better defenseman that’ll solve all our problems. Well…I for one don’t think it will. The other biggest issue with this team is their lack of a physical presence. Now I’m not saying they need to bring back the Broad Street Bullies and go full 70’s on us but they need to add something. It feels like every game they are getting bullied and nobody does anything about it. I get today’s NHL isn’t about having goons just running around out there but most championship caliber teams have at least one guy that other teams are afraid of.
The last two Stanley Cup winners had one guy in common. That man is Patrick Maroon, former Flyer way back when. He brings a physical presence on the ice and can contribute offensively when needed. Other teams aren’t as willing to go out and run at star players because they know they have to answer to someone. There isn’t a guy on the Flyers team right now, that other teams are afraid of. The other night Scott Laughton got dropped on his head on a faceoff and nobody did anything. In a few of the games against the Sabres this year, Rasmus Ristolinen has punished the Flyers forwards with some big hits and again nobody has responded. The past two games against the Capitals, again they were bullied and out played physically.
So yes, the defense is the major issue but if this team wants to make a deep playoff run they have to address the lack of a physical presence. I liked the idea of Sam Morin as a forward for that role but clearly that didn’t work. He is much better in that role as a defenseman and I’d much prefer they give him a chance on the big club as a defenseman. But Fletcher also should make a move to try and acquire someone who is known more for hitting and dropping the gloves when needed.
The Flyers take on the Rangers tonight and will look to get back on track as they try to climb their way back into the playoff race.