Better With Popcorn

Flyers need physicality in front of their net

With much of this season coming as a pleasant surprise, there is still one topic that is able to sour even the most positive of discussions.

Defense.

If you are a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, the majority of your conversations this season have been about the team’s less than stellar defense.

Allowing the seventh most goals against in the entire the league, the team has a glaring issue that many feel needs to be addressed at the trade deadline that is quickly approaching on February 28.

While there is still plenty of speculation as to what the Flyers will do before the figurative clock strikes 12 on the last opportunity to improve their team (the literal deadline ends at 3 p.m., for those of you wondering), there is one thing they will have to do no matter what moves they do or do not make.

Clear out the front of their net.

This was made abundantly clear on Thursday night in the team’s 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Several times throughout the night, Toronto’s attacking forwards were able to attack the Philadelphia goal without much of a fight by the Flyers defenders.

Much of the time, the majority of the Flyers defensive issues fall onto the heads of the team’s six man d-corps.

However, the issue was much broader than that and included the defensive play of their forwards as well.

Toronto players were able to attempt extended attacks far too easily because Philadelphia players were not tying up opponents in front of the net.

On the other end of the ice, the Maple Leafs made sure to make the Flyers work for every chance they got knocking players over at will.

During the second period, the Flyers were making an offensive push on a power play.

Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds all attacked the goal in tight.

With the puck around the goalmouth, the Maple Leafs knocked over all three forwards, including Schenn on two separate instances during the sequence. The effort allowed Leafs goaltender James Reimer enough time to freeze the puck to force a faceoff.

It was an example of how Toronto imposed their physicality in front of the net.

Those instances were few and far between when speaking about the Flyers, as it was fairly rare to see Maple Leaf attackers sprawling on the ice in the offensive zone.

In fact, their final two goals were the result of loose pucks that they were able to battle for in front of the net.

Ultimately, the team is going to have to play better in front of their goal. They need to push bodies around, knock attackers over and tie up camping players.

When scrums happen in front of the net with the Flyers on offense, the puck gets tangled up in traffic.

When scrums happen in front of the net with the Flyers on defense, the puck gets deflected off of a player (whether friend or foe), and turns into a goal.

While a trade may be necessary, it will be just as important for the Flyers to solve this problem for the team to succeed.

The Flyers are a versatile team who is capable of aggressively attacking the other team’s goal by throwing the body.

They need to start throwing the body in front of their own goal as well.

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2 Comments

John Russo's picture

Timonen and Carle are not as physical as the Flyers need them to be. They're more finesse guys, which works for Kimmo and not so much for Carle. Meszaros, Coburn and Bourdon are the physical guys and they have done a poor job at doing it.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

Well, Coburn did a really nice job of taking Bob out last night at least.

But seriously, I think the responsibility falls on the whole team, not just the six defensemen. On Bozak's second goal (Toronto's third), he was able to skate with the puck across the slot without a single body getting in his way. Voracek was on him and called to tie him up.

That kind of stuff can't happen.

The team as a collective has to do a better job