BOSTON, MA - MAY The Philadelphia Flyers try to capture a ball that was tossed on the ice in the third period against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 6, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 5-1 to sweep the series 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
On the morning after getting swept out of the playoffs in the second round, there is both an increased clarity and an increased frustration. The immediate anger at another uninspiring performance in Game 4 is gone, replaced with a broader frustration at a lengthy display of mediocrity. But with that comes a clearer picture of all that went wrong this year.
Obviously, it is still too soon to properly diagnose the Flyers' fatal downfall, but one can begin to step back and look at the broader picture. The problem is, after that miserable four-game sweep at the hands of the Bruins, seeing what went wrong is not easy to do. There was so much that went wrong, it is difficult to figure them all out.
In over 250 minutes of play, the Flyers led for only a little more than 14 minutes. The quick start to Game Two was the only time the Flyers held a lead in the series, and it took the Bruins less than a period to erase a two-goal lead. And even then, the Flyers only held the two-goal lead for three minutes and nineteen seconds. In other words, the Bruins thoroughly dominated the Flyers on the scoreboard.
Oh, and the Flyers scored as many goals in four games as the Bruins did in Game One. Scoring seven goals across four-plus games just isn't going to cut it. That is an average of 1.65 goals per game. Entering the season and entering the series, the prevailing wisdom was that the Flyers had superior depth up front. Yes, Jeff Carter was injured, but that doesn't explain why only four forwards scored a goal against Boston. James van Riemsdyk had three while Danny Briere, Mike Richards, and Kris Versteeg had one.
Where was the depth? Quite simply, it wasn't there. As a team, the Flyers only scored on 4.7% of their shots. Some of that is the result of bad luck, some the result of a great Bruins defense, and some the Flyers failing to create opportunities. Whatever the reason, the Flyers' offense just didn't get it done.
But it wasn't just the offense. The team gave up 20 goals in four games. Two were empty net goals in Game Four, and two were power play goals. But at even-strength, the Flyers gave up 16 goals. Some of that is on the goalies, some of that is on the forwards, and some of that is on the defense. But Brian Boucher played well in Games 2 and 3 and Sergei Bobrovsky played well in Games 3 and 4. The problem was not goaltending.
The Flyers top-4 defensemen (Coburn, Timonen, Meszaros, and Carle) all were on the ice for 6 or 7 goals against. In Chris Pronger's only game, he was on the ice for 3 goals against. It didn't matter who was on the ice, the Flyers were giving up goals. And they weren't scoring them.
No matter where you look, there is plenty of blame to spread around. The coaching was dreadful, the offense was putrid, the defense was nonexistent, and the goaltending was porous. So in the coming days and weeks, there will surely be plenty of stories singling out individuals for blame. While they probably deserve it, there isn't anybody on this Flyers team who should escape blame.
But the important thing to remember is that this team was built with clear roles in mind, and a clear blueprint to win. That blueprint was defense first, two-way depth up front, utilizing matchups to let the Briere line loose, and getting competent goaltending. None of that happened. So this offseason, Paul Holmgren will have a difficult time fixing his team, because there isn't a clear hole that needs to be plugged.
And to think, this was the first of a two-year "win now" window.