Flyers need more roster changes after Wednesday’s adjustments failed
Philadelphia Flyers lost to Buffalo Sabers on Wednesday 6-1. The training has done the team a disservice.
All the Philadelphia Flyers can hope for is a better April.
With a 6-10-1 record in March, the Flyers remain fifth in the Mass Mutual East Division standings. Currently, Philadelphia is three points behind the Boston Bruins and tied with the New York Rangers.
Following a comeback victory on Monday, Alain Vigneault had to build a roster to stay ahead of the Buffalo Sabers on Wednesday. Between the two games, a multitude of roster changes took place. Shayne Gostisbehere cleared waivers while Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick were in good health.
Replacing Gostisbehere was Erik Gustafsson. Samuel Morin, paired with Gustafsson, posted his worst defensive performance. Without a doubt, Gostisbehere and Morin are the good third pair. Giving up Gostisbehere instead of Gustafsson created more ceiling space.
What about those other alignment moves? Sending Gostisbehere to the taxi team saw Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski appear on the start list. Vigneault felt that Lindblom and Patrick needed a break. With Joel Farabee in the fourth row, Bunnaman and Twarynski were the worst skaters on either team. The Flyers shouldn’t have and didn’t beat the Sabers on Wednesday.
Gustafsson must go
A fortnight ago, Robert Hagg injured his shoulder in the 9-0 loss to Rangers. He’s on the casualty reserve and is expected to miss two to four weeks. Hagg could return relatively soon.
Unfortunately, Hagg plays defense on the left side. Gustafsson offers greater flexibility of position. Philadelphia, on the left, would count on Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Morin. If Vigneault builds his best defensive formation, he shouldn’t involve Gustafsson on the right side. Gostisbehere offers the same flexibility as Gustafsson but with defensive engagement.
Optimally, the right side can feature Philippe Myers, Justin Braun and Gostisbehere. If Ghost can clear overrides, so can Gustafsson (or he doesn’t, which is better.)
Incoming Sandin and Laczynski
When Linus Sandin and Tanner Laczynski signed an entry-level deal, the Flyers indicated they were ready to test and develop new perspectives. Bunnaman and Twarynski were sent to the ghosts of Lehigh Valley while Laczynski and Sandin landed on the taxi team. Before playing for a minute at the NHL level, Laczynski and Sandin signed more profitable contracts than Bunnaman and Twarynski.
Of the last two players to sign an entry-level deal, expect Laczynski to appear first. If he’s called back from the taxi team to the queue in Philadelphia, he shouldn’t be in a one-off role. The development of these perspectives should proceed without interruption. Many of the Taxi Team players could gain more playing time if the Flyers are mathematically not eligible for the playoffs.
Laczynski is under contract for the 2021-2022 season. Sandin, on the other hand, is said to be a restricted free agent after this season.
Lyon replaced Moose
It doesn’t matter who the Philadelphia goalie is; they are not going to look good behind this defense.
Alex Lyon occupying the field was fascinating. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of Brian Elliott’s withdrawal after the second period. Already on the ground, 4-1, Lyon saved 90% of the shots they faced after falling into their net when Tobias Rieder skated, behind the first, on him. Former Sabers head coach Ralph Krueger has reportedly said Rieder intends to hit Lyon.
The Flyers need a plan after Elliott. Putting in the extra time to recalibrate Carter Hart is smart for the long haul. Allowing Lyon to play at NHL level, even behind horrific defense, is necessary.
In 2021-22, Hart will be the starting goaltender. Do Chuck Fletcher and Vigneault consider Lyon as their reinforcement? Whatever the plan, the Philadelphia front office must build a competent defense. The retooling strategy includes Morin’s rediscovery, a handful of entry-level deals and financial decisions, so a defensive free agent arrives. The key word is defense… like a defensive defender.