Better With Popcorn

Another move now seems a question of when, not if

For the large majority of the season, much of the focus for the Philadelphia Flyers has fallen on the team’s vaunted defensive unit. With injuries to Chris Pronger and a platoon of capable, yet not-so-ready rookie call-ups, the mantra of this season was plain-and-simple:

Get a defenseman and get him now.

The organization may not have responded as quickly as some would have liked but they answered the call none-the-less by bringing in not one, but two NHL battle tested defensemen and in the process added a collective total of around 500 lbs to their backend.

With only four days remaining before the February 27 trade deadline, the focus now shifts to the front end.

With 198 total ‘goals for’ this season, the Flyers are the second highest scoring team in the NHL, one goal back of the league leading Vancouver Canucks. In addition, the Flyers are the only team in the league with six players with 16 or more goals and have a total of ten players with double-digit goals.

With that kind of goal production you would have to be crazy to want to make alterations to the group.

However, it’s not as crazy as you might think.

On last week’s Flyers Corner, Dustin Leed made a point of questioning what the identity of this forward group is.

Leed certainly isn’t off base in his reasoning.

The most praised dynamic of the group is the fact that all four lines can score goals.

With gritty guys and finesse guys rippling the twine on any given night, it allows the lines to blur between bottom-six and top. Just think back to how often the lines have been juggled for proof enough of that.

While it may speak to the versatility of the players or the indecisiveness of the coach, it also displays that there is a logjam of players in the middle of lineup who are capable of doing the same thing.

This is an indication of ambiguity as well as areas of need.

When thinking about this season’s Flyers, the team doesn’t have a shutdown forward or a goal scorer.

Before you get up in arms about all the goal scoring listed above, realize that there is a difference between a goal scorer and a guy who scores goals.

Last season, Daniel Briere was one of the team’s goal scorers; Jeff Carter was a goal scorer. This season, Wayne Simmonds, Max Talbot and Scott Hartnell are guys who have scored goals (a lot of them at that), but by no stretches of the imagination are they goal scorers.

With Briere struggling to score this season, it leaves room for the team to add another player capable of consistent goal production.

In terms of the shutdown guy, the team has a lot of gritty forwards but don’t necessarily have a player they can put out there in the waning moments of periods to win faceoffs in their own zone or muscle around opposing team’s top units.

Talbot is probably the closest fit to that role, but the team has used him more in a utility sense than shutdown.Even guys like Hartnell, Simmonds or Jakub Voracek could fit that role, but all three of them have gone up and down the lineup even playing on the first unit.

It proves Leed's point about a lack of identity.

Considering that it is the Flyers intention every season to contend for a championship, they will undoubtedly be in discussions over the next four days with other teams to see how they can improve the unit.

All one has to do is take a look at Darren Dreger’s or Bob McKenzie’s twitter feeds for evidence of that.

While the thought process of ‘breaking up the chemistry’ by making a trade may bring about anxiety for some, remember that the Flyers have 100 goals this season from players who weren’t on the team last year.

Considering all the line juggling and injuries and what not that have occurred this season, there really isn’t much consistent chemistry to be broken up as it is.

With the trade dominoes already beginning to fall, it now seems more like a question of when and not if the Flyers make another move.


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John Russo's picture

See, I tend to fall on the side of the fence that thinks the scoring is fine as is. But at the same time, you are absolutely right.

You can easily win with that mindset though, just look at Boston last year and NYR this year. And yes, I know, the Flyers don't have the goaltending and defense that either of the teams I named does.

But they need an established threat on both the offensive and defensive side. Detroit has exactly that in guys like Hank Z, Datsyuk and Franzen as well as one of the greatest blue-liners to play the sport, a solid defensive unit and an All-Star goalie. The Flyers can be just like that with one more good move. We'll see when they make it.

Is Dustin Brown on their radar? That sure as hell would be a solid pick up. And would you trade JvR straight up for him?

Matthew Brigidi's picture

Probably wouldn't be straight up. If JvR is involved then the Flyers are getting a significant return. I believe it would take more than Brown from the Kings to get him, honestly. A lot of teams value JvR which makes him a valuable piece for the Flyers

John Russo's picture

Good, give us Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown then hahaha