I've been an avid reader of this site for quite some time but until now have never posted anything. After this years elimination from the playoffs though and reading the many, many articles putting most of the blame on the Flyers goaltending, I felt I needed to vent a bit and post my thoughts. This is my opinion based on what I've seen and what I know of hockey as a fan and a player. Feel free to agree or disagree.
I fall into the group of people who don't think the goaltender situation was the biggest reason the Flyers were eliminated. While the goalies could have played better, the Flyers skaters certainly did them no favors with their play on defense. Being out of position and not successfully backchecking combined with bad attempts to clear the zone and bad turnovers routinely left the goalies out-to-dry. Then add in significant injuries to star players, the mental and physical wear of two long seasons in a row (yes, contrary to what some may think this does take a toll), an ill-timed offensive slump, bad line-matching by the coaches, strong play by the opposition, and bad luck in general and you have the recipe for this years elimination.
The Sabres played a tough series and have one of the best goalies in the league. Yet some would have the Flyers essentially go the route of the Sabres...lesser talent on offense and defense with a "top-notch" goalie. Seems that has yet to work out for Buffalo. Miller posted 2 shutouts and stole games for the Sabres but they were unable to advance past the first round and haven't had much playoff success in recent years.
The Bruins played a great series and to take away from their play by putting all blame on Flyers goaltending is ridiculous. They came out playing with an edge and out-worked, out-muscled, and out-played the Flyers for much of the series. Everything the Flyers were in last year's playoffs, the Bruins were in this series. On top of that, the Flyers ran into a goalie in Tim Thomas who was on fire, something that can happen anytime.
Many are saying the Flyers won't be able to succeed without picking up a "top-notch" goalie. Typically this year the list thrown around includes mainly Vokoun, Bryzgalov, Quick, and Nabakov and I've even seen Kipprusoff or Roloson's names. The Flyers would have to clear space on the cap by getting rid of players through waivers or traides and I've seen people arguing for getting rid of just about everybody on the team. Mostly though it's been Carter, Richards, Coburn, Carle, Briere, or JVR.
All of these players make up what I feel is the core of this team and a fairly young core at that. Carter, while often streaky, still is a top-level goal scorer and someone this team needs to keep. Richards is the leader of this team and how he goes typically the team goes. None of the fans are actually in the Flyers locker room during games and practices. So nobody is really qualified to make any comments on the effectiveness of Richards' leadership abilities. Briere, while expensive, has proven to be a clutch goal-scorer and JVR showed the talent this year that made him the #2 overall pick. He will only get better. With Kimmo and Pronger getting older, the defense needs Coburn and Carle, who put in good, solid seasons on the blue-line. Coburn has really stepped up the physical side of his game and is great on the penalty kill. And Carle, while he did have a rough postseason, is still a top-4 defenseman and needs to stay.
Why would you consider trading talent like some of those players to pick up an aging goalie who would likely only be in town 1 or 2 years. The Flyers need to stick with Bob and a decent veteran backup, not go looking for another John Vanbiesbruk. Now is not the time to become a Florida, Buffalo, or Nashville...mediocre teams playing in front of good goalies. While the goalie may steal you a game or two, ultimately your season will fall flat when your team goes up against a more balanced, skilled team.
With players like Giroux, JVR, Richards, Carter, Leino, Briere, Coburn, Carle, and Mezaros, the Flyers have a great core of young players and years of success ahead. The Flyers need to make a few roster tweaks, not major overhauls. Players like Sean O'Donnell, Jody Shelley, Darrol Powe, and Carcillo should be gone in my opinion. I would only keep Carcillo if he took a lesser deal. Bring up Wellwood and bring in a cap-friendly free agent winger. The Flyers unlike many other teams always seem to find a way to stay in the hunt for the cup year after year, so I'm confident that whatever they do I will be cheering them on in the playoffs next year. I just hope they don't buy into the sell-the-farm for a "great" goalie idea. Yes it's frustrating to see them lose but I love being a fan of a team that knows how to consistently put together a good roster.
Ok...long-winded rant over. Feel free to comment!