Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, Danny Briere, Jeff Carter are the biggest names, and that’s just down the middle. However, they aren’t used separately. Each one of them has seen time on the wing this season. And each one has been effective in the pivot, and on the outside. Scott Hartnell, James vanRiemsdyk, Nik Zherdev, and Ville Leino are the other offensive minded wingers on the club. A few other guys add some grit, and might chip a goal here or there as well. The Flyers, when they are on their game, come at you in waves. Despite the late season slump, they were still 3rd in offense. A lot of their chances are generated from a very quick counter rush. The D will hit someone with a breakout pass near the blueline, they’ll move it to someone in motion towards the red line, and pretty soon there are 3-4 guys entering your zone. Your best bet in stopping that is by trying to get our defense to move the puck before they are ready. We’ve seen the Flyers get in trouble when the breakout pass is too long. When we’re forced to stretch the passing game, that’s how we get bogged down.
However, we’ve caught teams napping with the long pass plenty of times, especially during line changes. You can find a few highlights of our D sending passes from our zone to guys on the other blueline, giving them some breakaways. The other thing you need to deal with is cycling. We’ve got some bigger guys that use their strength to shield the puck. And the little guys all know how to use their balance as well. I don’t have to tell you that this comes down to heart. Who wants it more is the one that wins thee battles. Down the stretch, we had problems in the dump and chase department because the first man in either got there too late, or didn’t get enough support. If that trend continues, then you won’t really have a problem getting out of your zone. But if we do fix our mistakes, then you’re in trouble.
The Flyers live and die by generating pressure. They don’t like to sit back and let the game come to them. They were built to keep attacking, and not letting teams sit in their own zone too long. Last season’s big playoff run came mostly because we didn’t let up on teams. We got the puck in their zone, we hit them, and we just took away their will power. Every time they’d come at us, we’d get the puck back quickly and send it the other way. Their heads were spinning. When we finally came across a team that could skate and wanted it as badly as we did, and had the depth to compete, that’s when we finally lost. That, and Michael Leighton blows. Much has been made in the media about how we’ve been losing games lately. I can assure you that it’s not specifically of anything that other teams did. The Flyers simply did not come to play. If they don’t wake up, then the Sabres have a great chance at an upset. But if the real Flyers come to the rink, well, at least you have the Bills to look forward to.
Here is Tim’s preview on how the Flyers can attack the Sabres.
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