PLAYOFFS OR NO?
I posed a question on Twitter during yet another Flyers' debacle last night that drew a wide-range of responses bpth through Twitter and on Facebook.
I simply asked if, at this point, fans would prefer the Flyers still try and gut it out to make the playoffs or if you've seen enough of this inconsistent team with Brian Boucher now as the go-to goalie to realize this is a lost season and it would be better off if they missed the playoffs so sweeping changes could be made.
OK, I only had 140 characters, so it was a little condensed, but that was the gist of it.
As expected there were people on board with missing the playoffs, there were those who offered a well-thought out opinion as to why they should still push to get in, and then there were those who flat out called me names for even suggesting them missing the playoffs.
Yep, those are the wingnut Stepfords. And believe me, there's more than you think.
In reality, even with Boucher, there's no question the Flyers are a good enough team talent-wise to make the playoffs. But, they're certainly not good enough to make any semblance of a run, meaning they're likely out in the first round against of the possible opponents (Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo or New Jersey) or, if they get lucky and win one round, they're likely gone by Round Two.
But, the makeup of this team, the chemistry, just isn't right. They can't play cohesively. They don't seem desperate to win. They seem disjointed, not together and, most likely, not able to rectify it.
They can play great in spurts, but they can equally play despondently in spurts too.
There are games they put together like the one against Chicago last Saturday where they seem like they can beat anyone in the league, and then they come out the next night and pop like an overblown baloon against the mediocre-at-best New York Rangers.
Michael Leighton's injury in Nashville probably dealt a bigger blow to the team psyche than anyone has cared to suggest. The players liked playing in front of Leighton. They understood the feel-good story and enjoyed being part of it. Leighton's play instilled confidence in the team in front of him and vice versa.
It was a perfect, you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours situation.
With Boucher, no one will ever say this, but the confidence is shaken. Why? I'm not sure. He's a veteran. He's respected. He remained professional during his three-month exile from the ice, dutifuly performing in practice the whole time and never chirping to the media. But, for whatever reason, and his skills aren't significantly different from Leighton, this team doesn't respond in front of him.
But that's the makeup of this Flyers bunch. They have a different attitude than any team I've ever seen in pro sports. They seem to think they can turn it on and off at a moment's notice. They feel they can play at their peak when they want, and don't have to exert all the energy until it's absolutely necessary.
It's like the kid who was a straight A student in high school, goes of to college and thinks everything is going to come just as easy to himm and finds out it's a whole different ball game and struggles to maintain his success because of his refusal to adapt and reliance on past practice.
That's where these Flyers have been for two straight seasons now. Even a vteran turnover last summer didn't cure that.
So maybe, just maybe, it might be better for this team in the long run to miss the playoffs, even if they technically are the fifth best team in the East, because then the core of the Flyers, a core that GM Paul Holmgren is so leery of shaking up, might finally be adjusted appropriately.
And if Holmgren won't do it, something tells me a playoff miss might make the organizational brass find someone else who will.
For a video breakdown of last night's loss go here: http://tinyurl.com/ybwc8nk