Flyers 2010-2011 year in review

May 9th, 2011 by Scott Dargis | Filed under Flyers, General, Hockey, TalkSportsPhilly.

To begin I just want to apologize to the readers out there, I haven’t wrote a column in a couple of  days. I’m a senior at Rutgers University and have been loaded with work during finals, but  thankfully they are over

There was so much optimism going into this season. In the 2009-10 playoffs the Flyers gelled  together and made one of the most historic runs to the Stanley Cup finals in the history of the  NHL. The regular season was a big improvement from last year. This team looked prime to make  the run all the way back to the finals and obtain the elusive championship that has haunted this  franchise for decades. That’s when things began to turn south. The Flyers took their foot off of the  pedal, not because they got tired of going 100 mph, it was because the bus ran out of gas.  Remember it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

First it seemed as if the team was just bored. They took the lead in the Eastern conference on January 4th and had it all the way until the beginning of April. The Capitals swooped in and took the number 1 seed in the east. Then it happened. In game three against the Sabres it was a realization that this team was going to have to play much better than they had to even beat an up and coming Buffalo team, much less to make a run to the finals. It was understandable to get shut out in one game against Ryan Miller, he is an all world goaltender, but there is no excuse to get shut out twice by him.

The savior then returned, he also goes by the name Chris Pronger. Once he returned the power play got back up to speed and the Flyers ended that series with a dramatic game 6 comeback and a beat down in game 7. It was then that it seemed that the Flyers were back on track. Then it happened.

Boston had been waiting all year for another shot at the Flyers. In every sport that has a playoff system with series there was the graphic that was shown for teams that have come back from a 3-0 deficit, for a year the Bruin players had to stare at the screen and see the 2010 Flyers underneath the NHL column. They played such inspired hockey that the Flyers did not have a chance to catch their breath. The series was over when David Krejci blasted that one timer by Boucher in the overtime of game 2. They desperatly needed that win, but the Bruins were determined to destroy the Flyers championship hopes.  You can play the what if game with Chris Pronger. If he was in that series may have been completely different, but I don’t think that Boston would have been beat. Whatever the case it sends the Flyers into the off season with many more question marks.

And yes I didn’t even want to dive into the goalie situation, no reason to beat a dead horse.

What to do with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards?

It is unlikely that both will return next season. I don’t think Jeff Carter will be back next year. The Flyers have to make cap room for a big name goaltender. Mike Richards did have a quiet end of the season and playoffs, but who didn’t besides JVR? Richards is too good of a playmaker to trade away and Carter had a fantastic year scoring wise, which makes his value at the highest point possible. James van Riemsdyk looks like he will be the player of the future for this team, if he plays at the same level next season as he did in the playoffs, he has a good chance to top Carter’s 36 goals from this season.

Goaltender situation

Brian Boucher has likely played his last game as a Philadelphia Flyer. He had a solid season going 18-10 with 2.42 GAA and a .916 save percentage. The Flyers just will not have the roster spot for him. After the sparkling play of Sergei Bobrovsky, 28-13-8 with 2.52 GAA and a .915 save percentage, he deserves to be on this team. The Flyers could elect to go out and another big named defenseman, but they need to just suck it up and find a big time goalie. Out of the early rumors Ilya Bryzgalov seems like the best bet, not only because he is a top notch goaltender, 36-20-10, 2.48 GAA and a .921 save percentage, but he can help Bobrovsky with the transition from Russia to the United States. Having Bobrovsky would be a nice second option for the Flyers and could give Bryzgalov some much needed rest during the regular season. Like the Flyers he ran out of gas against the Red Wings.

Other options in the off season – Tomas Vokoun, Steve Mason, Long shot – Niklas Backstrom

Players possibly on the move

It maybe time for Scott Hartnell to go, he is that rough player that plays with a ton of energy, however that play did not translate well this post season. Teams seemed to figure out that if you get him away from the front of the net, he becomes less frightening. He needs to work on his puck control in the off season. Until he does that he is just a goal scorer and can’t do much else. I was very unimpressed with Kimmo Timonen’s play with the absence of Chris Pronger. He could not lead the power play at all, however he is one of the oldest players in the league so he will likely play the last 2 years of his contract here in Philly. Kris Versteeg never seemed to get a grip of how to play Laviolette’s system, he is facing abdominal surgery in the off season, don’t be surprised if he is involved with a Jeff Carter trade.

Laviolette’s future

His stay in Philadelphia maybe shorter than everyone anticipated. The roulette table of goaltenders brought his value in Philadelphia down much quicker than it took for the Spectrum to be demolished. His time outs were no longer effective in the playoffs and he just couldn’t find a line paring that could score in the last month of the season. I’m not saying he has a short leash, but the higher ups will not accept another exit like the one we saw this year. A slow start to next season will only make things worse.

The next couple of moves the Flyers make will be key to their short term success. They could try the same strategy they did off season when they wanted to trade for Dan Hamhuis and beef up the defense. If this does happen we will see another year of Bobrovsky in net, but it is time to go out and cure the one problem the Flyers have been trying to solve since Bernie Parent retired.

This will be my last Flyers column until they make a trade or there is breaking news. I’ll be covering the NBA playoffs from here on out and then make the transition to the MLB. I enjoyed covering the Flyers playoff run and hoped everyone enjoyed reading. Follow me on Twitter @airdare18

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