Wednesday night, a travesty occurred at the St Pete Times Forum, and it had nothing to do with the 1-3-1, or the trap, or any other system. There was one person responsible for that mess of a hockey game, and one person only, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. Laviolette was the mastermind of this plan to basically neutralize the highest scoring team in the NHL, against a team missing two of its top four defenseman and a top six forward. Makes perfect sense, right?
Lets flash back to last season. The Tampa Bay Lightning checked in with a 3-0-1 record against the Flyers, including a game that saw the Flyers score seven goals. They had no issue beating the dreaded 1-3-1 that night, even in defeat.
Back to Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers, the team known as the “broad street bullies,” under the direction of their head coach took their proverbial pucks and went home. Instead of their head coach looking at film of say, any of the five losses the Lightning have suffered this year and formulating a plan to beat the system like any other head coach would have done, he took the easy way out and told his team to do nothing. He systematically changed what made his team successful because he really had no other game plan for what to do.
Here is where the story really gets interesting, the post game comments coming from players both on the Flyers, and around the NHL basically lecturing on the “proper” way to play the game. Chris Pronger in particular, telling ComcastSportsnet.com post game: “Way to showcase the product, with the players they’ve got over there.” Apparently the Philadelphia Flyers feel they can dictate the proper way to play the game, according to, well them. And if you are not playing the game according to their standards, its time to fold up the tent and go home. It has also been suggested that the fans don’t like the system and wont pay to see it. Interesting concept, considering all but one game has been an announced sell out and it sure seemed like the home crowd went home in a pleasant mood after that game ended.
The funniest part of all of this is the idea that any thing was exposed last night or that changed need to be made at a league wide level. The highest scoring team in the league was held to 15 shots on goal, and one goal. Yet somehow, the home team was exposed? To listen to some, the league needs to get involved to outlaw the 1-3-1, which may be up there as one of the outlandish things said about this. The league really has no business outlawing a system because a head coach finds himself in the perilous position of not being able to find a way to beat said system.
What makes this even worse, last seasons games between these two squads were some of the best games of the year. If the fans in attendance were robbed of anything last night, it was what should have been a great game for a full sixty plus minutes. Not the gong show it turned into.
It really is a shame the Philadelphia Flyers decided to waive the white flag before the war even began.