Two big-time nationally televised games this weekend gave us a good measure of how the Philadelphia Flyers are playing right now, and we have to be happy about coming out of it with three points.
The attention paid to these games also made them a nice window into how fans view the team. While Geoff's articles should have me braced for this by now, I was once again struck by how rabidly opposed to Matt Carle many Flyers fans are.
After the jump, let's look closely at how much blame Carle received for the one goal against in his 43:36 of even strength ice time, and how much of it he deserved.
As we pick this play up, Bryzgalov has just sent the puck around the boards to Carle. He does not handle the puck cleanly and Brad Marchand takes it away from him. This is without question a misplay by Carle, but the situation it creates is not especially dangerous: a 3-on-3 with good man coverage and a fourth Flyer just off-screen about to join the play.
As Marchand passes to Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin cuts towards the net, and
Wayne Simmonds Max Talbot picks him up.
Erik Gustafsson comes down to cut off Bergeron and
Simmonds Talbot is covering Seguin. Carle is cheating off of Marchand to close the passing lane, and Matt Read is scanning the crowd for hot chicks in "Kiss me I'm Irish" shirts.
Just as Bergeron releases the pass to Seguin,
Simmonds Talbot peels off towards an open area of the ice, leaving Seguin open. There are now five Flyers skaters and three Bruins in the picture, but somehow none of the Bruins are really covered.
Bergeron's pass gets through Gustafsson and Seguin scores.
The coverage here was really bad, and not one Flyer can be singled out as having done his job well on this play. But if I'm assigning blame,
Simmonds Talbot is my clear number one target. But that's not how the Twitterverse saw things:
Great job Carle— Jim McQuiggan (@JimMcQuiggan) March 17, 2012
Carle lost his man there.— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) March 17, 2012
I blame that retard Carle. #trademattcarle— Ogie Oglethorpe (@yikemoung923) March 17, 2012
Bad clear by Bryz started the sequence. Carle late to cover Seguin in front. 2-0. #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 17, 2012
Another Norris trophy quality play by Matt Carle. #idiot— Anthony Adams (@Aadams90) March 17, 2012
Have now idea who Carle was covering there but entire coverage was lacking.— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) March 17, 2012
Sounds like fans think Carle is either awful or...somehow...Ryan Suter. No gray area with him. It's interesting.— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) March 17, 2012
Carle missed the puck, not Gustafsson.He also failed to pick up Seguin and Talbot missed a chance to backcheck.— John Boruk (@JohnBorukCSN) March 17, 2012
Carle looked really confused on who to cover on the Seguin goal.— Bob Kropiewnicki (@aBOBination_) March 17, 2012
Everyone seems to think Carle should've been covering Seguin there. I only see two ways to come to that conclusion; either a) you only looked at the coverage as the shot was taken and said "Carle's closest; he should've stopped it", or b) you hate Carle and confirmation bias is overcoming rational analysis.
This Carle hate continued all weekend long. Here are the rest of this weekend's tweets from within 100 miles of Philadelphia that mentioned Carle (not including factual tweets like the starting lineup). This is literally every tweet from the Twitter search for local mentions of Carle, excluding replies.
Carle just might have the weakest shot in league from the Blueline— Giroux Tang Clan (@TheRifle27) March 17, 2012
Matt Carle is terrible! #Flyers— Al Bogart (@Bogeybaseball) March 17, 2012
I can't even defend Matt Carle anymore.— Frank Hazlett (@FrankHazlett) March 17, 2012
Hey Carle, have a seat buddy.— Martin Slamon (@digix3) March 17, 2012
Today was evidence that it takes a team to win a game and it takes a team to lose a game. If Carle wasn't so fucking useless it's 2-1 Flyers— Just Manda (@FuckCindyCrosby) March 17, 2012
Hey, look at Matt Carle bumping Crosby off that puck. That guy sucks, man.— Travis Hughes (@BroadStHockey) March 18, 2012
OK, not everyone hates him.
Way to go Matt Carle. If the pens score on this power play I'll hate you even more than I already do— Shane Sullivan (@smsullivan21) March 18, 2012
Seriously flyers have zero defense capabilities... Carle and couborn are pathetic Timmonen old— Sharon Bubis (@sharonpsu321) March 18, 2012
We're talking about a team that's given up 12 goals in the last 9 games, right?
In other news, is Carle the biggest waste of space in the NHL?— John J Meussner (@Lemeuss) March 18, 2012
You need to send Matt Carle in there, he isnt good for anything else.Let Kunitz face wash him, maybe it will help him pass better.— Jason DeAngelo (@Jason_DeAngelo) March 18, 2012
Carle has no clue where he is right now. And he's looking for his pants right now.— Andrew (@AndrewD48) March 18, 2012
Sidney Crosby has owned Matt Carle today— Anthony Sanrocco (@sanrocc0) March 18, 2012
Carle was on the ice for 10 of Sidney Crosby's 13 even strength minutes, and the rest of Carle's ice time was mostly against Evgeni Malkin. The Flyers were outshot 14-11 while Carle was on the ice and 19-11 while he was off the ice. No goals were scored with Carle on the ice.
Carle grab some bench jesus christ that was awful— Scott (@GoFlyersGo) March 18, 2012
And finally, at least there is one fan who has the right idea:
ugh, matt carle marry me already— Sara Groome (@OMGitssarr) March 19, 2012