Philly Phaithful
Better With Popcorn

Flyers Fall in Overtime; Controversy Awaits?

Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning (8-5-2) defeated the Philadelphia Flyers (8-4-3) in overtime, 2-1.

Midway through the second period, the Flyers found the net for the only time of the night when Scott Hartnell deflected a Jakub Voracek point shot by Dwayne Roloson.

Tampa would knot the game at 1-1 7:41 into the final period when Marc Andre Bergeron rifled a slap shot past Ilya Bryzgalov. The goal came on the power play and ended the Flyers streak of 20 consecutive penalties killed.

In overtime, Lightning rookie Brett Connolly scored his third goal of the season, beating Bryzgalov exactly halfway through the 4-on-4 session. On the play, Andrej Meszaros misplayed a rebound off a Lightning shot and Connolly was in position to win the game.

That’s the story of the game.

But, that isn’t the story of Wednesday’s game.

Wednesday’s game was about the strategy employed by Lightning coach Guy Boucher and the counter-attack, or lack thereof, by Peter Laviolette.

In one of last year’s meetings, the Flyers held the puck in their own offensive zone to combat Tampa Bay’s 1-3-1 defense. Wednesday, they did it almost exclusively through the first two periods.

With the VERSUS TV crew frantically deciding how to decide about what was going on, the fans in Tampa booed. Twice, play was blown dead for the Flyers not moving with the puck.

They would adjust to avoid the penalty as the game wore on, skating in circles in the defensive zone. Twitter was ablaze with criticism of both sides and the heavyweights in the hockey world all chimed in with their thoughts.

In the new NHL, the emphasis is speed, skill, and scoring. There’s no doubt that the league wants to sell and grow their product. With a national broadcast audience flipping the channel to a defenseman in white holding the puck, it’s safe to assume the NHL was unhappy.

Laviolette wanted to play his game and call his shot -- that much is clear after Wednesday. Without any effort to move the puck forward, he stood his ground.

When the delay of game was called, Laviolette gave the referee an earful. The second time, he did the same.

In essence, the Flyers coach was saying, "If you won’t play the way I think you should, then we won’t play until you change your mind."

Although many are empathetic to Laviolette’s strategy, the endless question will be, is it fair? Each coach has an obligation to attempt to win the game, and while he didn’t reach that obligation with his team’s stalling, he didn’t prevent them from winning either.

On a deeper note, his job is to orchestrate his team in the best way possible to win. It’s to the Flyers advantage when Tampa comes out of their trap. So without any way to force them out, why not make them wait it out?

Will the NHL decide to change the rules in light of Wednesday’s outcry? Maybe not, as the Flyers are the only team that has implemented such a strategy on such a stage.

However, there are some reasons why there may be a change of legality in the rulebook.

One of the most important reasons is that with teams possessing the likes of Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, no one wins when the game stands still. The biggest loser in the situation is VERSUS, the NHL’s pipeline to a national audience.

What’s good for VERSUS is good for the NHL and vice versa. Quite a few bills are paid with the checks coming to the league from Comcast’s major network.

Another significant reason for possible action is the likelihood that other teams employ the same strategy against Tampa Bay. If that’s the case, everyone loses.

It seems unlikely that Boucher would up and change his team’s strategy due to displeasure from those around the league. A year removed from his team finishing just one game from winning the Eastern Conference last year, it’s highly unlikely.

The real shame of the action in the first two periods Wednesday night in Tampa Bay is further exemplified by this post.

Instead of illustrating the action of the game and the pivotal moments in detail, the strategy and subsequent controversy is addressed as the bigger issue.

Some came to read a detailed summary, much like those who turned on VERSUS to watch 60 minutes of great hockey.

It didn’t happen.



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John Saquella's picture

No controversy...just another bad play by Meszaros ending up in the net

Matt Cefalu's picture

Yep. I bet Connolly is a good young player, but Mez has gotta have that coverage down low

John Russo's picture


Adam Pardes's picture

Game really was boring as hell to watch. Funny but dreadfully boring.

George Prax's picture

I didn't see the game, but they way you're describing it sounds like it already is against the rules. It happened last week in a different circumstance I think with the Flames, where they refused to play the puck on a delayed call so they can kill time off the clock, and they were penalized. I'm guessing the same thing happened here? That's pretty clearly against the rules.

Whatever it is it's a pretty douchey thing to do lol

Mark Trible's picture

Tampa's front forechecker would wait at the blue line so the Flyerrs dmen held the puck and waited for him to, um, forecheck! lol

George Prax's picture

There's no rule against not forechecking. There are definitely rules against not actively playing the puck.

Matt Cefalu's picture

Rule just states that the puck has to be kept in motion - which, after the first standoff, was the case. D-men just kept passing it back and forth, so technically puck was in play. Either way, Mark is spot on. Boring as hell to watch and bad for the NHL's major network.

Kim Pollock's picture

Hey, Flyers: keep trollin', trollin', trollin', trollin....

I'm with Adam. This game was pretty boring to watch, though highly entertaining. I missed the very beginning, but I'm glad that the Flyers continued to troll the Lightning for a while so that I was able to actually see it.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Well really, if you're going to just sit there and do nothing, aren't you kind of admitting you can't beat the system? Tampa is just going to keep doing it, so why not try something else and not just stand there. I found that pretty stupid, there are some pretty easy ways to beat Tampa's system.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

Gotta do, what you gotta do to win the game. Flyers had possession of the puck and Tampa Bay set-up to try and regain the puck. I'm gonna puke if "shot-clock" kind of things start being discussed

George Prax's picture

Except that they lost the game...

Matthew Brigidi's picture

Tampa Bay didn't lose the game.

Wasn't talking about the Flyers. I was talking about strategy in general.

I suppose you didn't understand what my last post said: I have no problem with what either team did last night. Gotta do, what you gotta do to win the game.

George Prax's picture

Nowhere in the comment I replied to did you say "I have no problem with what either team did last night." So forgive me for assuming you were simply talking about the Flyers. The trap is a documented and proven strategy for winning, even in Today's NHL, and while it may be boring, it doesn't bring the game to a standstill. The Flyers strategy of "Come at me, bro" didn't work and wouldn't have ever worked. It's just the Flyers and Laviolette stirring the shit pot.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

I don't think thats the case at all. Just because Philadelphia has the puck doesn't mean they have to make the first move. Just because that is what is expected doesn't mean it's neccessary. What's rule number one of attacking an opponent? Make the other guy make the first move. While it may not entertain, the Flyers decided to see if they could wait out Tampa's defensive structure.

And realistically, it did work. How many odd man breaks did the Flyers give up? The reason the Flyers lost last night was because they took seven penalties and Tampa Bay tied the game on a power play goal.

George Prax's picture

"Just because Philadelphia has the puck doesn't mean they have to make the first move."

Yes it does, there's a rule against not playing the puck.

They weren't strategizing in order to win a game, they were trolling. This is made obvious by the fact that they were taunting and screaming insults at the Bolts from across the bench and from what Pronger said after the game.

The Flyers were bullying the Bolts last night, it's as simple as that. It's like the schoolyard bully who takes your lunch money, and then makes fun of you when you're not eating anything at 12 o'clock.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

The officials called Toronto and they ruled that there was no rule in the book that said what Philly did was illegal.

as per Puck Daddy:

"Referee Rob Martell blew the whistle twice for defensive zone draws. It's all he could do. There's nothing in the rulebook that prevents the Flyers from doing what they did last night."

George Prax's picture

Rule 72.5. It only discusses delayed penalties but it's essentially in the same spirit. Flyers got around it I guess but it doesn't make it right. What really gets me is that they had the gall to mock the Bolts afterwards.

Matt Cefalu's picture

Personally, I don't think teams mocking other teams is anything new. I feel like that happens all the time. Maybe I'm wrong though.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

I respect your opinion on that, Prax. I'm a big sportsmanship guy myself.

George Prax's picture

It's not the fact that they mocked them, it's the fact that that they made a spectacle of a nationally televised hockey game to prove a point and THEN mocked them as if they were at fault for it happening.

Matt Cefalu's picture

Valid. Certainly doesnt make them look good at all.

Mark Trible's picture

Once the Flyers scored on Hartnell's PPG, the trap obviously stopped. The game's decision wasn't related to the stalling tactic whatsoever.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Tampa has been running this system for over a year now and it obviously doesn't work. They allow 3 goals a game this season and were just under 3 last season. The trap doesn't work and it is terrible hockey to watch.
Both teams were wrong. The flyers were wrong for just passing the puck back and forth between D-men, it came off as whiny, but at the same time who in their right mind still runs a 1-2-2. It has to be some of the laziest play in all of hockey and its kind of pathetic.
Then again, you guys could have had another 8-7 debactle like last season, that was also bad hockey.