PUCK BUDDY: Flyers Fans React – pt. 9
Today we’re joined by Jon ‘JP’ Phillips. JP has been a Flyers’ fan since the days of Pelle Lindbergh, who was his idol playing goalie as a kid. Although he grew up in Minnesota, he has avidly followed the team since the early 90′s and now authors the FlyingP blog.
DL – What are your thoughts on the Flyers standing pat on Trade Deadline?
It’s not surprising to me at all that the Flyers did nothing at the trade deadline. The current cap situation and lack of production from the guys who would get the return the team needs (not to mention the inane NTCs that have been handed out) made is essentially impossible for Homer to make a significant move to improve the team. As Homer said, he made his big trade back at the draft.
One thing I’m happy about is that Homer didn’t succumb to the pressure of making a move and end up making a bad one. I like the fact that moving JVR and Giroux was non-negotiable. It would have been nice to see a move involving Coburn or a similar piece, but I don’t think the Flyers would have gotten a fair return. In the end, no deal was the best deal in this case.
Having said that, I’ve been comfortable with the team and will continue to be comfortable with the team. When it’s playing as a unit and with desire, this team has the talent to beat anyone in the league. The problem has been and continues to be that they just don’t do that. This most recent stretch shows that they’re just as inconsistent now as they’ve been all season. Their pre-Olympic stretched showed how good they can play, and they need to rediscover that chemistry that had them flying high for the better part of January and February.
If we see that team again, then I like our chances for the playoffs.
DL – How confident are you as Michael Leighton as the starting goaltender?
Of course, I had to rework my response after Leighton’s high ankle sprain.
Prior to his injury I would have to say that, in brief, I’m not. But, the team seems to play well for him and that means something. He has a tendency to let soft goals in and in bunches, and they tend to be momentum killers when he flakes out like that.
The reality is, there are a lot of goalies – some better, some worse – that have never won a Cup. The problem with being a Cup-caliber goalie is that you have to win one to gain that title. Look at Roberto Luongo, he’s never won a Cup so the questions still hover around him about whether he’s just a great regular season goalie that can’t get it done in the playoffs. Heck, even with how great Ryan Miller played in the Olympics, people still wonder if he’s got the stuff to win a Cup. The same would be the case if Emery was still between the pipes.
So, assuming the Flyers don’t tank before season’s end, we’ve got Leighton as our go-to guy in net for the playoffs. As we’ve seen so far this season, Leighton’s success will greatly depend on how well the team plays defense in front of him… same with Boosh, Backlund or whoever else Laviolette throws in there. Since the Flyers don’t have a lights-out tender, then the best we can hope for is that the team plays uber-responsibly in front of him and that whoever the goalie is just plays well enough for the team to win.
DL – What are your expectations of the Philadelphia Flyers this season, from here on out – what must they do to lock a playoff spot?
There is just one thing, in my opinion, the Flyers need to do to secure a playoff seed and hopefully go far into the post-season. They need to start playing for each other. Since the Olympic break, they seem to have lost what cohesion they had developed during their January-February tear. They seem to be playing more selfishly and unconsciously… and the results have been evident. You can’t lay eggs like the games against Boston and New York at this time of the season. Even if you lose, you need to be able to take positives away from it. Those loses were a result of lack of effort and teamwork, plain and simple.
The Flyers need to find that intangible element of playing for each other. Yes, we fans think we matter a whole lot in the success of the team, but ultimately we’re along for the ride. We revel in the glory and agonize at the defeats, but we play a very small role in the team’s overall success. The current Flyers need to be willing to pay the price for each other… to do whatever it takes to be there for a pass or shot, or to cover for a defense laps, or just throw a big check and defend their teammate. Whether they win the Cup or not, at least you can walk off the ice and feel proud of how you played.
That’s what we need to see.
DL – What’s the best part of being a Flyers fan?
The passion. Many of you know I grew up in Minnesota and was a North Stars fan for the first part of my life. It’s an old story that I won’t go into. But when the Flyers supplanted them as ‘my’ team, it was more than just the type of hockey played in Philly that drew me in. It was the passion that surrounds the team… the complete and utter dedication to supporting them no matter what. Sure, we’ll give the players, coaches and front office a good roughing up if we don’t like the way things are going, but it’s only because we love the Orange and Black so much. Win or lose, love us or hate us… everyone knows that Philadelphia Flyers fans are as passionate as they come. Players want to play for us, other fans want to be us.
DL – Who is your favorite Flyer and why?
Honestly, I don’t have a bona fide favorite Flyers right now. I usually gauge my favorite off of who’s name I’d get on the back of a jersey and I haven’t done that yet. In the end, it’s probably a toss-up between Mike Richards and Claude Giroux, with the G-man getting a slight edge. Giroux is smooth as butter and there’s just an electricity in the air when he’s got the puck on his stick. You’re just constantly waiting to see what he will do and how the puck will end up in the back of the net. I’m certainly glad that Homer refused to trade him and I hope that doesn’t change. As for Richards, no one’s better or more fun to watch that Richie when he’s playing all-out. No one.