Blog Entry

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

Posted on: June 15, 2010 2:57 pm

Peter Laviolette isn’t really big on extreme makeovers, so there is no reason for doubt when he says he’d be happy starting next season with essentially the same Flyers lineup he has now. The one he tactfully kept reminding everyone that came within two wins of a Stanley Cup.

Whether that meant having the same goaltender is something Philadelphia’s coach left hanging in a wide ranging season post mortem this week. The subject has developed a life of its own in Philadelphia over the years and it’s been on everyone’s mind since the Stanley Cup Final when Michael Leighton allowed several soft goals, including the overtime winner in the clinching game that will remain the lasting image of his season.

Thing is Leighton actually did play very well for the most part after the Flyers picked him up on waivers last December,  so Laviolette wouldn’t or couldn’t dismiss the idea of bringing him back. “Certainly Michael has given himself every opportunity to be considered a No. 1,” Laviolette said on his conference call.

Okay so it’s exactly a ringing endorsement, but then neither was the break-up day comment from Paul Holmgren when he noted that Leighton “didn’t play as good as he needed to play in order for us to win.”

In other words, the Flyers are trying to figure out if they can get better between the pipes and at what cost. And they’re trying to do it fast, before next weekend’s draft in Los Angeles, which is expected to produce some heavy trading as teams look to recalibrate their budget liabilities. Philadelphia came very close to pulling the trigger on a deal at the March trade deadline – Florida’s Tomas Vokoun was thought to be in the Flyers sights – and there are some pretty good options at the teams disposal, particularly at center where there is an excess of skill with Mike Richards, Danny Briere, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux.

Carter, the team’s top goal scorer, would be the most moveable asset because he has only one year remaining on a $5.25 million deal. And because of a broken foot, Carter had little post-season impact on the Flyers. But Laviolette said a lot of centers not a bad problem to have.

“If we move forward and we return with those skilled center men, it’s a positive” Laviolette said. “Injuries happen during the course of the year all the time, but when you’re heavy on centers, skilled centers, I don’t think that’s much of an issue. I think that you can move it around and juggle it, so you can get by when everybody’s healthy.”

What Laviolette seems more concerned about is upgrading his team’s conditioning. There was a lot of scuttlebutt about Philadelphia’s players being in less than ideal shape when Laviolette replaced John Stevens behind the bench in early December. But none of the players were huffing and puffing by the time the playoffs arrived, and most of the Flyers were raving about the return from being pushed harder.
Laviolette did say on his conference call that said he was “satisfied” with his team’s conditioning level. He suggested the players got stronger as games went on and won a lot of games in the third period during the playoffs, but made it clear the conditioning factor will be a lot better when he will be there from the outset of training camp

“Training camp is an opportunity to get everyone on the same page, work through some things, maybe even try things and certainly you get to push the pace for conditioning,” Laviolette said . ”But I think how the players come back into camp is going to be equally as important.  Conditioning for me is going to be a big thing coming back in, making sure the guys are in shape and are ready to play. I think if we can be in really good skating shape and we can understand exactly what we’re supposed to be doing, stay healthy, and enter that first game of the year, that’s really my goal.”

That’s one of the goals anyway. Another is cutting Chris Pronger’s minutes down to around 24 for about 30 per night, something Laviolette said would be possible if the Flyers start better and avoid putting themselves in essentially a must-win situation every night of the second half. Essentially, Laviolette hopes  Philadelphia doesn't get the hangover other teams who have lost recent Finals did.

“A lot of it has to do with the parity, not necessarily a Cup hangover,” he said. “I think our guys will be pretty motivated just because we got pretty close. We’re a young group. We have a good hockey team. I think if we come into camp in good shape, we have a good training camp, there’s no reason can’t come out and find success through the course of the regular season.”


Category: NHL

Since: Oct 7, 2007
Posted on: June 18, 2010 1:56 pm

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

While goalie has been a soft spot for the Flyers since Hextall ( Rounbd 1) the real rebuilding needs to concentrate on finding another set of defsemen.
As one could see as the series with the Hawks moved on, the Flyers 4 defensemen simply wore down in the latter games, vs the Hawks roatating 6 players in and out. The same can be said for the lines. Philly basically played two and the Hawks 3.
If the Flyers are going to be competative, not only do they need to find a tender, they also need depth.
Speed was another factor which decided the cup with a large advantage to the Hawks.

Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: June 18, 2010 1:38 pm

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

ambiguous....Wow..Nice word!

Since: Jun 6, 2008
Posted on: June 18, 2010 11:32 am

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

My apologies Jimmygrazz.  How uncharacteristically of me to use bad grammar.  I also apologize for my ambiguous comments.  What I most certainly was trying to get at was that I think Big Buff is better clutch performer than Hartnell.  He had 4 winning goals in this playoff series. 

Since: Jun 6, 2008
Posted on: June 18, 2010 11:06 am

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

Come on guys. escpecially the Hawks fan that responded.  I love upsetting the Flyers fans.  I think it is funny.  So I say stuff like 'it was easy' and so on because they get so angry.  I have never had a winner and love show boating it because this might be my only win in my life so I am def. talking it up. We all know the series was tough and the Flyers are good but still they got whoopped by the number one team the blackhawks.  Leighton's 5 hole protection is was what killed him.  

Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: June 18, 2010 9:07 am

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

DoubleD22, can't you just be happy with your win? I hope your grammar doesn't show the intelligence of all Chicago fans. Let's examine...

Incorrect = "I think you the Flyers should sign Circillo to like a 10 year deal because he is really great"
Correct = " I would like for the Flyers to sign Carcillo to a 10 year deal because I think he is a really great player"

We all know what Carcillo does you d-bag. He is a fighter, nothing more.

Incorrect = "And personally I think you had players playing above there usual playing ability (cough Hartnell) as the blackhawks did in Big Buff (13 goals in the regular season 10 in the playoffs) so you have to get that but I wouldnt consider him just for the playoffs like Buff could be looked at."

Correct = I really have no idea what the hell you are saying here. Are you trying to say that you think "Big Muff" is better than Hartnell?? Hartnell did have 30 goals in 08-09 and 30 assists. Before you have to go get the calculator that's 60 pts. "Big Muff" hasn't even came close to 30 goals or 60 pts in a season. Oh and by the way, Hartnell had more pts in these playoffs, so I'm not really sure how much weight your argument carries.

Like I have said many times to the intelligent Blackhawk fans, I congratulate the Blackhawks on beating the Flyers. But I wouldn't get used to it. The salary cap is an evil thing. You will witness it's affects this offseason.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: June 18, 2010 1:22 am

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

Don't they speak English in Chicago?

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: June 17, 2010 6:01 pm

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

you are right, it probably favors Caps but it does do job for Philly to get goalie with great skills.  Richars Semin could be a powerful match.  I think part of semin's problem Ovie got all the attention and when not him it was Backstrom.  Semin did well when Ovie was out.  Very well.  He and Richards could be very interesting.

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: June 17, 2010 5:56 pm

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

Theodore isn't being offered a contract.  Varly had excellent season until hurt and then Olympics.  He is a winner in NHL for sure.  Agree about Neuwirth.  WOuld like him as trade bait if we got a 2nd teal (Boucher or Leighton are perfect as second tier) in return.  Caps hae room with Theo gone.

Green is here to stay.  He had terrible playoff but he is so critical to PP.  Carlson will be great but not offensive defenseman.  Green needed at point. 

Fleishman is gone, not official but almost.  They do need good 2-way center for 2nd and 3rd line.  Carter fits.  They get both and with ALzme coming as well they will be fine.  WOuld lov a Pronger/Gill/Chara guy but not out there available.

Since: May 26, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2010 5:31 pm

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

Okay...I'm a Hawks fan but let me clarify a few things:

1 The opinion expressed by the idiot poster is not representative of Hawks fans.  We all know that the Flyers gave the Hawks one heck of a fight, showed a way lot more than we expected and yes, a fortuitous bounce here or there or a timely save could have changed the entire series.  So, just discount one stupid moronic post and lets move on from there.

2 Regardless of how Michael Leighton played in the regular season or late vs the Bruins and Canadiens, let's all face it...he sucked in the Finals.  He was the single most reason the Flyers lost the series.  Sure, there are other reasons and Leighton shouldn't shoulder the entire blame.  After all, if the Flyers just happen to hit the net with some of their shots instead of shooting wide, it's a different series too.

That being said, I am pretty sure ALL fans can agree that Michael Leighton didn't do the Flyers any favors in the Finals.  Getting pulled in two of six games is just plain bad...and I already lost track of how many soft goals he let in during the series.  And the two bad goals in Game Six...Patrick Sharp's "ice hugger" and Patrick Kane's series winner were just pathetic and cost the Flyers that game, plain and simple.

Now, I'm not gonna toot Antti Niemi's horn.  He pretty much had the same path during the first three playoff series.  He played great save one or two games and stole several games.  During the Finals he bordered on really good (see the 2-1 Hawks win in Game 2) to average to below average.  But one thing Niemi did do was come up with the big save when it mattered.  At least he didn't lose us any games.

Leighton is an above average backup goalie.  But Flyers fans, if anyone expects him to be your number one guy, I think you could be in for a more  disappointing season than this last season.  

BTW, what is the cap situation with the Flyers?  Any problems there?

The Hawks have a mess on their hands and we have no idea who will remain from the championship team.  The core will stay intact, but we keep hearing all sorts of rumors about Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp...and Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel.  Several of those could be gone.

The Hawks will try and trade Cristobal Huet...or hide him in the minors where his $5.625 million salary will get buried.  Not so lucky with Brian Campbell's $7+ million plus for the next SIX years.


Since: Nov 23, 2007
Posted on: June 17, 2010 4:29 pm

Flyers still have to figure out goaltending

what kind of drugs are u on if you think that the cup win looked easy.  every game in that series was tuff and a bounce here or there and the Flyers win the whole thing.  then again you are a cubs fan. just goes to show what u know.

now onto the real deal.  the Flyers need to get themselves a true number one goalie.  they havent figured it out since Ron Hextall left the first time.  while they are always good at getting wingers and centermen, they always seem to push the goalie issues to the back burner.  even in the begining of the season when they signed Ray Emery i thought that was a long shot.  I say dangle Jeff Carter out there get yourself a good young goalie and not a waiver claim and you will be set.  cause all these stop gaps in net arent going to win it.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or