Posted: November 17, 2011 in Hockey

The Philadelphia Flyers stopped playing the game.  Twice.  First, they had a defenseman stand stationary for 20-30 seconds before a referee blew play dead.  Just a couple of minutes later they had a defenseman skate in small circles with the puck for 20-30 seconds before again the refs stopped play.  The Flyers didn’t like what they saw in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defensive strategy so they refused to attempt moving the puck down ice.  That’s right, they refused – for all intense and purposes – to play the game.  It’s been the talk of the hockey world for a week now with everyone laying down blame.  On Tampa Bay.

Wait, what?  The Flyers literally stopped playing and the so-called “experts” are ripping the Lightning?  It is beyond the most absurd thing I have ever heard.  Since when is giving up and quitting on the game a defendable act?  Actions speak louder than words and what Philadelphia displayed was a protest.  It was a non-verbal bitching and moaning session about how the other team was playing.  Or, in the argument of the Flyers and “experts”, not playing.

The good ol’ 1-3-1 defensive strategy: one forward forechecking, the other two forwards and one D-man along the red-line/far blue-line, the second D-man in the defensive zone.  In this particular scenario, the forechecker wasn’t entering the zone.  He was playing essentially man-to-man defense.  Well, guess what Philly?  You know what you do when you are shown by the defense their strategy?  You play around it.  Plain and simple.  In every sport known to man, to succeed you have to work around your opposition.  The Flyers didn’t attempt to do squat.

When you point your finger at someone else, there are three more pointing back at you.  Flyers want to complain about Tampa standing around?  Well, so were the Flyers.  The forwards in the neutral zone did nothing to combat the Lightning defense.  When you have control of the puck, you have control of the game.  The opposing team has to respond to you.  Yet the Flyers did next to nothing in that regard.  Move your skaters around; come back and overwhelm the lone forechecker.  Do something.  But don’t quit playing.

It’s not as though Tampa Bay is undefeated and cheating the system, either.  They are one game over the .500-mark.  If you take away the OTL/SO column and toss those two tallies in with straight up losses, they are one game under the even plateau.  No team has played 20-games yet so it’s not very meaningful at this time, but the Lightning are four spots out of a playoff position.  Like I said though, it’s still super early.

So, the 1-3-1.  Who gives a crap?  Each team has their own strategic identity.  Some follow very elaborate systems.  Some allow players to have more creativity during play.  It’s all part of what makes the game interesting.  How are two different strategies going to match-up against one another?  Are both teams going to stick to theirs?  If so, how will they adjust just enough to out-smart the other team while sticking to their own game?  Well, as we found out Philadelphia doesn’t like that part of the game.

They would rather give up.  They would rather quit on the game.  That’s a slap in the face to this great sport.  That and also the “experts” condoning such actions.  Last time I checked you can’t succeed when you quit trying.



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