The circus is coming to town, so it's appropriate that the Canes' longest road trip starts in a city where the local hockey team seems to be a perpetual circus - and that can be both a good and a bad thing. In a strange bit of shortened-season scheduling, the Flyers open a four-game homestand tonight against the Hurricanes, which ends next Saturday against...the Hurricanes.
Which is to say that you'll be seeing a lot of Broad Street Hockey in this space over the next week. Travis Hughes, the BSH managing editor and NHL editor for SB Nation, joins us to preview tonight's game. I, for one, welcome our esteemed SBN overlord.
- We remember from his time here that Peter Laviolette, much like Mike Keenan or Pat Burns in years past, has a pretty defined shelf life of 2-3 seasons, after which point his effectiveness dramatically declines. Has he reached that point behind the Flyers' bench yet? How much more time will he get to turn it around?
I don't think Lavi has reached the point where he's ineffective, although I totally understand that critique of him as a coach. I do think that, at least so far this season, he hasn't been able to adapt his up-tempo style to a roster that lacks the personnel to pull that off. How can you have defensemen chipping in offensively and taking risks when they flat out don't have the speed to get back should they screw up? That's already bitten the Flyers many times this season, in particular. Ultimately, I think Lavi is a good coach and I want to see him get more of a chance -- as in, beyond this year if things really go south -- but with Ed Snider in charge, and with the way you could see the pressure in Lavi's eyes last night in Washington, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a move made. Then again, of course, there's time to turn things around still.
- The Flyers sit in last place in the Atlantic, but they've only played two of their eight games at home and start a four-game homestand tonight against the Hurricanes. How many points do they need from this homestand to at least stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot, and is it too early to pour dirt on the Flyers' postseason hopes?
Far too early right now. The Flyers are playing worst-team-in-the-East style hockey, but with the way the rest of the division looks so far, it's too early to throw dirt on the playoffs. It's too early regardless, but especially given the state of the rest of the division. The Rangers aren't playing well, I'm not sold on Pittsburgh in the slightest bit, and the Islanders and Devils are both teams I expect to see outside the postseason this year. So, there's hope -- if for no other reason than everybody else is really bad at hockey too.
- So far, the Flyers' injured list has been a who's who of big names - Hartnell, Rinaldo, Meszaros, now apparently Simmonds too. Will Paul Holmgren need to make a deal to compensate for the team's injuries, or are they confident enough that they'll be able to get contributions from elsewhere in the lineup?
Can't speak for Homer, obviously, but both given the situation and given his M.O., I'd be shocked if he weren't already looking around. I'm shocked he entered the season with the defense in the shape it's in, but I guess that shows how little a market was available to him. Offensively, Hartnell, Simmonds and Matt Read (to name a few) all overachieved last season and were big pieces in the Flyers' offensive success. I'm not confident they can replace the production they've lost to injury. I'm not even confident they could replicate last year's production with everybody healthy when you consider certain guys may have taken steps backward this year regardless, and the loss of Jaromir Jagr.