The startling inconsistency of the Philadelphia Flyers has become common place under Head Coach John Stevens. We are now in the midst of yet another slow and frustrating start by the Orange and Black. And it seems as if Coach Stevens is now feeling the heat.
Many around NHL circles would agree that the Flyers are certainly Stanley Cup contenders this and most every season. However, when speaking of the Flyers there is always a “but” to talk about. The Flyers are Cup contenders but, they have plenty of questions marks.
One question mark that seems to be overlooked time and time again is the man behind the bench, John Stevens. The casual fan would think Stevens has done an above average job since taking over for Ken Hitchcock who was fired along with then GM Bobby Clarke. Though, the inconsistency that has been the definition of this team lately falls squarely on the shoulders of Stevens.
Through his three year tenor as Head Coach Stevens has been on the preverble “hot seat” a few times, and his team has bailed him out. It's early and the Flyers are already showing familiar signs of “Jenkyl and Hyde” syndrome. Stevens trying to weather this storm, has been fiddling with lines like a 12 year old kid playing NHL 10.
This time the “bailout” for Stevens is the injury to Simon Gagne, the dreaded “lower body injury.” So the fiddling of lines can continue. Stevens insists he's tyring to find the right combo, so these players can gel together. One question, when you finally find the right combo's how will you know if you don't stop changing?
I'm sure if you were able to get into the Flyers Skate Zone practice facility late night, you'll find Stevens in his office reading “Coaching in the NHL for Dummies.”
For laughs let's take a look at today's lines during practice:
Van Riemsdyk – Carter – Briere
Hartnell – Richards – Pyorala
Carcillo – Giroux – Asham
Cote – Powe – Laperriere
Ok, I'll wait for you to stop laughing.
Let's start with the first line, see what's wrong with this one? In my opinion I just don't see Jeff Carter as a successful Center, especially if he's playing with Briere. It's a line full of guys who have a nose for the net, with no one to distribute the puck. Carter belongs at wing, plain and simple.
Ok, the second line now. Not a bad line really, but hell if you pick all these players names out of a hat you'll come up with a good line or two. All three work well along the boards. All three have good hands. And all three can set up, or be set up for goals.
Third line, why is Claude Grioux on this line? I'll be the first to say that Dan Carcillo can play in the NHL and that eventually Philly will learn to love him. Also, I love Aaron Asham's game, he's got underrated hands and can surprise with his speed. However, you just wasting Grioux on this line.
The fourth line is fine I guess. Nothing exciting happening here to be completely honest, it is what it is. Injuries are forcing the Flyers to play Cote, who no longer has a place on this team really. In reality, the Flyers have lots of guys that can drop the gloves but offer more on the ice then that, Asham, Carcillo, Richards, Hartnell, and Laperriere.
You just read Exihbit A, John Stevens is tinkering too much. Could GM Paul Holmgren's recent cricitcisms of players be getting to Stevens? Does he think the criticisms will be pointed at him next? We shall see.
About the Author
Written by Mike Santa Barbara
Sports writer covering mostly Philadelphia sports for over 10 years. Work has been featured on RealGM.com, GCobb.com and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia (CSNPhilly.com.)