As tomorrow night's contest looms, herein is the return of a fun feature- five questions with your opponent's SB Nation blogger. Broad Street Hockey's Geoff Detweiler was willing to answer some questions for me about the Flyers, Dan Hamhuis, and a little more. Many thanks to Geoff for his time, and be sure to check out BSH in the hours leading up to puck drop.
After the jump, is Chris Pronger overpaid, a word on Mike Leighton, and more!
1. The Flyers failed to upgrade their goaltending at the deadline. Do you feel that Michael Leighton can take the team far into the playoffs?
Most people would say quickly and strongly, no. And they wouldn't necessarily be wrong. I'm not one of them though. Yes, I would have loved getting Tomas Vokoun or Dan Ellis, but the Flyers entered the season asking Ray Emery to simply provide competent goaltending. If that was the plan going in, that should be the standard for Leighton too. It'd be nice to have a goalie that could steal a couple games - maybe even a series - but what's more important is for the Flyers to play well defensively. If the team fails in the playoffs, it might be because of Leighton. But I'd personally blame a lot of other things before Leighton.
2. Chris Pronger was signed to a rather lucrative deal this offseason; how has he panned out, and do you think that was overpayment?
He's worked out pretty well. A few weeks back, we looked at Gabriel Desjardins' advanced stats and found that Pronger was facing the 14th toughest competition while allowing the 13th fewest goals against among all NHL defensemen with 20 games played. He's been fantastic at even-strength. Sure, there are a few goals that you could pin on him, but he still isn't on the ice for many goals against.
As far as his salary goes, the $4.9+ mil cap hit is reasonable, if steep. Also, the length might be a bit of a concern (he'll be 42 when the contract is up), but he's only due $1.05 million over the final two years. If he keeps up this level of play, it would be a bargain. But we all know that's unlikely, so it will be worth it depending upon how long he can keep up his excellent play. I think it will still be a good signing.
3. Dan Hamhuis was widely rumored to be headed to Broad Street early this month. Do you really have defensive problems?
We did, but then we signed Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Parent returned from injury, so the Hamhuis rumors were a bit surprising. With that said, I would have gladly swapped Parent for Hamhuis, and would have preferred that the Flyers receive a draft pick coming back or a guarantee Hamhuis would sign. Since neither were going to happen - and Nashville supposedly wanted Parent and Coburn - I'm glad Holmgren didn't overpay.
With Pronger, Carle, Timonen, Krajicek, Coburn, and Parent, I'm happy with the Flyers defense. The way they've been playing, however, could use some improvement. Maybe Hamhuis would have upgraded the team, but not at the cost of trading away the entire 3rd pairing. Now if it was Hamhuis and Ellis for Coburn and Parent - maybe even an AHLer as well - I'd be all for it.
4. Who's the one guy who could do irreparable damage to Nashville tomorrow?
The easy answer is Jeff Carter, since he's the most dangerous scorer on the team. But noone likes an easy answer. So I'm going to go with every single former Predator on the Flyers roster. Timonen will frustrate you with spectacular penalty killing; Parent will punish you in the corners (he's getting better at that); and Hartnell will annoy the crap out of you, and maybe even chip in a goal.
But I'm not sure any of that is "irreparable". So, Dan Carcillo's mustache will haunt your dreams.
5. Peter Laviolette took over before the Winter Classic. What has he changed that the previous coach couldn't make work?
Well, Laviolette has instituted a system that, when it's working, is very easy to see. The aggressive forecheck is a big part to getting this group going. But the biggest thing Laviolette has changed that Stevens was unable to do is rein in Dan Carcillo. Travis wrote a whole piece on Carcillo's maturation, but it's very true. In Laviolette's first game, Carcillo dropped Matt Bradley and was subsequently suspended for 4 games. Since then, he's been remarkably disciplined, something that he wasn't under Stevens.
There's still one thing neither coach has yet been able to solve: The team's inconsistencies. They're so inconsistent, it's becoming common to hear the hated phrase "consistently inconsistent."