Maybe it's like this every offseason, or maybe it's just my perception given that we're two years removed from another of these extremely disappointing playoff runs, but we've been getting a lot of email and a lot of feedback since the season ended for not being harsh enough. You know, we're not holding people accountable. Not calling people out. At worst, we've been called out for "making excuses" for certain players.
I'm not sure I really understand the criticism.
Have we called out a bunch of individual players and made a big stink over the way the Flyers season ended? No, I'm not sure we have. But have we placed some blame? We most certainly have.
Since the day after the final playoff game against Boston, we've placed our fair share of blame where we feel it belongs: on Peter Laviolette's mishandling of the goaltenders, and collectively on every single player on the roster. Beyond that, we've set out to figure out exactly who screwed up the most in the playoffs.
Instead of being reactionary about it and instead of making rash judgments ("the goalies suck!" for example), we've broken down entire games and the scoring chances in those games in an attempt to place blame properly. That's an ongoing series of posts that will continue over the next few weeks until we analyze every playoff game (the analysis does take a while to put together).
Would we probably get more page views if we called out Brian Boucher for playing like a sieve (despite having a better save percentage at even strength than Ryan Miller in Round 1) or Mike Richards for not being able to win a face off (despite having a broken wrist for the entire year) or Matt Carle for looking like a confused puppy (despite missing Chris Pronger) or Pronger for not manning up and not earning his contract (which some people have actually done)?
Sure, we probably would. We'd probably have as many readers as WIP has listeners.
But that's BS. You know it, I know it. Howard Eskin knows it and has made a career of it, and there seems to be an umcomfortably strong shift in that direction in the general Philly sports media these days.
Philadelphia is an extremely negative sports city, especially when things go wrong. Shit, look at Phillies coverage these days. You'd think it was the apocalypse. You'd think the Mets played at Citizens Bank Park, not the best team in the National League.
The Flyers won't win the Stanley Cup this year, and that f*cking sucks. But not everything has to have a scapegoat. Sure, they lost because they played like shit, and when we notice something that stands out, we'll always mention it.
But an overall team failure doesn't have to be the fault of one or two players. Sometimes, things just don't fall your way. You don't get a bounce or 12, you lose your best player to injury, you run into a hot goaltender.
It doesn't mean Paul Holmgren needs to be fired. It doesn't mean the captain needs to be traded. It doesn't mean the uber-talented 2010-11 Philadelphia Flyers are suddenly a bunch of worthless bums. It's not easy to make the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row. The Flyers didn't do it, and that sucks.
But it's not the end of the world, and it's not going to turn us into WIP.