Let’s face it, a grilled cheese sandwich has more heart than the Philadelphia Flyers, and even that analogy may be giving them too much credit. At a disappointing 2-7-1 record so far this season, Flyers fans are forced to shove a paper bag over their heads to cover the embarrassment of only two wins; and we’re entering November.
A team that looks like a playoff contender on paper has been all but a success on the ice. With several off season acquisitions, including the addition of Kyle Calder and Geoff Sanderson, the Philadelphia Flyers are in no better position than they were during the second half of the 2005/2006 season. After being plagued with injuries throughout last season, it was a guarantee that this year’s squad would be different. Rookies would step up in their sophomore seasons, providing secondary scoring. Our defense had shaped up. It was going to be better. ANYTHING was better than the end of last season. But just how wrong were these assumptions?
After several humiliating losses throughout October, none of which need reminders, we are still in same spot we were a month ago. It’s very hard to forget the “LET’S GET 10” chants echoing throughout HSBC Arena. As much as we despise many of these teams, we can’t discount what they have become. I never thought I would see the day the Buffalo Sabres became Stanley Cup contenders. But clearly, they are doing something right in their organization. They know how to win in the “new NHL.” We tried to copy teams such as Buffalo in the offseason, and look at just how well it has panned out.
Blame Hitchcock. Blame Peter Forsberg. Heck, even blame the Zamboni driver. Philadelphia is notorious for targeting someone as the current “whipping boy.” It’s our job. We are missing a crucial message here, though: this team’s problems can’t be pinned on one person, you must blame the whole team.
We thought the firing of Ken Hitchcock would be the shakeup needed. Go one step further; Bobby Clarke is now just a shadow. John Stevens was the light at the end of the tunnel. He seemed like a savior to many. How long will it be before he is burned at the stake like his predecessors?
I am a Stevens supporter, as are many. He has coached 11 of the current Flyers while they were developing on their farm team, the Phantoms. Nine of the 11 have given him a Calder Cup Championship. He knows the conditions in which these players will succeed. How could it get any worse? Johnny had a six-day break to work with his team, and it seemed like the perfect remedy. Thursday versus Atlanta came and went, and he snagged his first victory as head coach. An actual team was skating around the ice. More creative playmaking was occurring. There was camaraderie on the bench. Unfortunately, this energy would not transcend to Saturday night versus Pittsburgh, where the Flyers suffered an 8-2 loss, handing Sidney Crosby his first career hat trick.
Now, we are heading into the third game of this home stand, against the Chicago Blackhawks. Already the Hawks have encountered their own injury bug, with several players scratched, including their starting goaltender. Tonight’s game is huge for the Philadelphia Flyers. It is time they prove they have spirit, a spark, and can play like a team. Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if someone only paid $9.99 on eBay to see you showcase your abilities?