Being a hockey fan is always tough. The nature of the game is so fast-paced that one minute your team is up by a few goals and the next they are embarrassingly dropping that game. Being a Philadelphia Flyers fan is even worse, because I am desperate to see the Stanley Cup again and over the years the team has let me down.
The Flyers have to do a lot of work for that one final push to make the playoffs this year, but watching them completely bow down to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night was not a good omen. As the NHL season heads towards its end, the Flyers need to be better than that.
So what aspects of the game really affected the team Thursday to lead them to this heart-wrenching defeat? The same things that have always afflicted the hockey franchise: defense and goaltending.
I am a constant goaltender defender, and as much as I think Steve Mason is the goaltending the team has been needing, perhaps those three weeks off during the Olympics affected him more than we knew. The goaltending was bad in this game; so bad that they pulled Mason to put in Ray Emery, and then late in the third period pulled Emery to put Mason back in. A lot of fans didn’t know you could do that, because when you see a goaltending switch like that it means that things for the team are going sour.
It was not just the goaltending that needs some work but the defense. The Flyers’ defense has been weak for a very long time, probably since the last Cup win back in the mid 1970s. A better defense would have stopped a few of those Sharks goals. A better defense would not have allowed seven goals to get near their goaltender. The team’s defense was not on point on Thursday, and something needs to be done about it. It’s one of the aspects that they really need to work on and the part of their team that has always been disappointing to fans.
The offense also wasn’t as present in this game, so they are also at fault. But in the grand scheme of the Flyers’ success from here on out, they really need to make key improvements in goal and on the blue-line.