Monday, May 19, 2008

Flyers Flop: Impostors Outed

Vengeance futile:

The Philadelphia Flyers and their ridiculous playoff marketing are out of the playoff

Flyers reporter Chuck Gormley, who forgot to revise his playoff report after the victory vs. the Habs, had this to say this morning:

In the process, the Flyers found a natural-born leader in Mike Richards, who justified his 12-year, $69 million contract by playing every shift in the playoffs as if it was his last.

In Marty Biron, they found a goaltender in his prime who could raise his level of play in the postseason.

In Jeff Carter and R.J. Umberger, they found two budding stars capable of producing clutch goals when the spotlight was at its hottest.

Having ousted the Canadiens on the backs of two or three solid performers and a bit of fortune, the Flyers earned Gormley's accolades. But then they proceeded to turn around and throw up a brick against the favourite Penguins.

Hugely satisfying (and dissatisfying at once) to the Canadiens fan is to watch the very players who played playoff heroes two weeks ago outed for the impostors they are. I wouldn't say it brings me much comfort that Biron started letting in goals again or that Umberger returned to 13-goal form, but for posterity have a look at what we could have seen:

Umberger 0.20 goals per game vs. the Penguins
A return to close to his 0.18 goals per game of the regular season. The anomalous 1.60 goals per game against the Habs was just fortuitous timing after all.

Biron .876 save percentage
No more breakaway game savers here. He let in good goals, bad goals, powerplay goals even. It wasn't a return to normal (far worse), but anyone who purported he was a playoff calibre starter is seeing Cloutiers.

While the Flyers fans should be and are happy about going from 15th to runner-up in the East, the players, managers and reporters need to have a think about what happened in the last 5 games. There was this:
It was a harsh reality for a close-knit group of guys that was only seven wins away from bringing Philadelphia its first championship since 1983.

And this:
They just ran into a hot team. Pittsburgh hasn’t lost in regulation at Mellon Arena since February, around the same time when they last lost back-to-back games.

And then the pot calling the kettle black:
“I think we really had a chance to beat these guys,” Scott Hartnell said. “The chances they had were because of our mistakes.”

Pretty rich for a team that made the second round on a non-goal, scored on every meaningful shot they took in the second round and then faced a far superior opponent and proved just how superior they were. All quotes neglect to recognise that the Flyers are out because the Penguins are so so much better than their competition. This was not a bad luck semi-final. You don't lose a playoff round in 5 games on a 6-0 rout if you're unlucky. This was a mismatch through and through.

Canadiens management should take note as well. While our fans and management can take consolation in the fact that our team at least played as well if not better than their opponents before they went out – the same feeling would not pervade had the opponent been the Penguins.

However, Flyers fans should not take offence. Sure they were impostors for the Eastern conference championship, but I have a feeling 13 other teams would have looked the same this spring.

Hossa a Penguin or not, the teams in the East will need to do better to make the finals in upcoming seasons.

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