“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.” The end to poet T.S. Eliot’s famous poem Hollow Men doesn’t have much to do with the Flyers’ season ending 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, but it was all I could think of after watching them bow out to the black and gold.
Even if they somehow managed to pull off a win or two, this team did not deserve to win a Stanley Cup. There was very little in the way of “heart” save for a few individual players and the team had too many deficiencies on the back end.
There was a parade to the penalty box throughout the game that allowed the Bruins to put one past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky early in the first period. Kris Versteeg tied the game thanks to a breakout play from Mike Richards during a 4-on-4, but that was the only offense that the Flyers could muster to beat Tim Thomas.
If I could interject here, coach Peter Laviolette elected to sit “all I know how to do is score” forward Nikolay Zherdev and instead dressed “less than three and a half minutes of ice time” Jody Shelley. There have been many, many poor decisions by Laviolette in these playoffs but his continued misuse of Zherdev is disappointing. Who knows if his presence would have made any difference, but Lavi’s persistent dogging of one of the Flyers’ best players is inexcusable.
The Bruins went up 2-1 after Johnny Boychuk fired a slapshot from a distance. It seems that long shots are Bobrovsky’s Achilles heel, based on his performance over the course of the season. Matt Carle turned the puck over late in the third period and Milan Lucic closed the door on any “comeback” talk.
Matt Carle has basically traded himself away after his performance in the 2011 playoffs. I don’t dislike the player, and there are few free agents his age who the Flyers can aim for in the offseason, but his $3.4 million salary would be better put to use on a bonafide goaltender.
If there’s anything that Flyers fans can look forward to, it’s the continued development of James Van Riemsdyk and Sergei Bobrovsky. Bob was the biggest surprise of the regular season while JVR took the NHL playoffs by storm. Unfortunately, the Flyers once again have no worthwhile draft picks and so we have to hope that the recent college signings will pan out better than the previous college signings.
I can’t speak for the rest of Philadelphia, but I am rooting for either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the San Jose Sharks the rest of the way. It’s about time that either Simon Gagne or Antero Niittymaki hoist Lord Stanley.