by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine
So, last weekend was great for fans of the orange and black.
Two wins over the New Jersey Devils, on back-to-back nights, no less. The
first two wins of the season after six in the tank.
I bet you think they've turned the corner. That enough heat has come off John
Stevens and that his job is suddenly secure.
It was inevitable, the wins. Whether it happened on Friday in New Jersey or
Tuesday against perennial punching-bag Atlanta or next Sunday against
Edmonton, there would be a 'W' posted, maybe several in a row. That's
just the nature of a bloated 30-team league. Ebb and flow at unexpected times.
I have to laugh at the suggestion that two victories over the Devils,
including one that snapped an oh-for-four-year streak on the road, is any
positive referendum on John Stevens' ability.
Remember, last year's club was just as deceptively streaky. The only
difference thus far is that this year's model chose to start the year with six
in the loss column rather than waiting until just before Christmas to hit the
Sure, there's a better than average chance that win number three is going to
happen at Philips Arena tonight.
After 10 consecutive wins over the Thrashers, no reason to believe that the
11th isn't forthcoming. That would create the deceptively egalitarian record
of 3-3-3 for the Flyers with one more game before October concludes.
But the fact remains that the team's "star" forward is gone for a month. Two
of the defenseman counted on to carry some significant minutes are out long
term. And, of course, the coaching staff is the kind which most likely will
not be able to squeeze much blood from a shrinking stone for long.
We've already seen the first couple chapters of "Coaching for Dummies" cracked
open. There have been demotions to the minors and radical line switching.
Any further losses and then the benchings follow. After that? Nothing. Paul
Holmgren steps in to do what his hires cannot.
Isn't that a clear indictment of the coaches, that the general manager has to
step in before the first month is over?
The threat was there as of Thursday night, that if a win was not forthcoming
changes would be made. Now two wins in succession are enough to call off the
Moreso than the numbers, is the club's repeated inability to play a full
contest. Sleepwalking through last Tuesday's first period cost them the San
Jose game. On Friday, at least they got the bad period out of the way in the
first, and turned a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 result.
Jersey came back and controlled the game for long stretches in the second and
third period after Philly went up by one. Had it not been for a fluke
deflection, we'd most likely be talking about one point on Saturday for a
It's clear by now that the M.O. of the club will not change as long as
Stevens, Craig Berube, Joe Mullen and Jack McIlhargey are in charge. You can't
try to solve your problems by simply working harder within the system.
Want proof? Ask Bill Barber.
All that's left is to take each win as it comes, whenever it comes, and hope
that Holmgren is allowed to make the right choices at the right time.