It’s the worst time of year. The post-Stanley Cup depression, where you come to the realization that there won’t be another minute of NHL hockey played for another three months. That being said, Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers can take away a valuable lesson from this year’s Stanley Cup Finalists.
Get rid of the dead weight.
If you were closely following the Stanley Cup Final, you probably heard names like Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Teraveinen, Andrew Shaw, and even Marcus Kruger a good bit. Why do I mention these guys? Because they were a part of Chicago’s third and fourth lines that put up nearly fifty points during these playoffs. Say all you want about Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but without that type of production from the lower lines, Chicago doesn’t win their third cup, let alone make it out of the Conference Final.
As I said in the title, take note, Philadelphia.
Depth Wins Cups
The Flyers are severely lacking in this department right now. Sean Couturier, who was a third line center, did an outstanding job this year.
He, along with Ryan White, were the main contributors, accounting for over 30% of the points scored by the bottom two lines. That may not seem significant, but it really is, considering Ryan White only played 34 games and Couturier had 37 of those points.
Rewind back to 2010 when the Flyers found themselves in the Cup Final and I’m sure you can recall they were solid from first to fourth line. Richards, Briere, Giroux, Hartnell, etc. were the big names upfront, but guys like Darrol Powe, Ian Laperriere, Aaron Asham, and Blair Betts did a phenomenal job while they were on the ice. They had depth.
That brings me to my most important point. That Flyers team, along with this Blackhawk team, did not feature any ‘tough guy’. Sure that Flyers team had Daniel Carcillo, but his ice time was limited and he even contributed an overtime winner. Not to mention, Peter Laviolette knew how to use him, and how to keep him in check.
Back to recently, the Flyers have gone back to the system that doesn’t work anymore. Zac Rinaldo sees plenty of playing time, despite having absolutely no positive effect on the Flyers. Teams that win Cups don’t have guys like that, because that role is quickly becoming obsolete, and will hurt you in today’s NHL. Really, no recent Cup winner has had a guy like Zac Rinaldo, not to mention even remotely needed a guy like that.
Think back to this season. When Giroux’s line was on the ice, you were expecting a goal. They were the bread and butter. When the third and fourth lines were on the ice, you would consider it a success if they didn’t get scored on.
The Flyers were missing depth, and aside from two guys on the third and fourth line, what they have now isn’t good enough. Take note, Philadelphia, because to compete for a Cup, you need depth.