The one year anniversary of the site has brought one of my favs out of the woodwork… The Tangent Man returns with a piece on Mr. Zherdev!
By Keith Filling
While the Flyers sit atop the Eastern Conference, you’d think there wouldn’t be much about which the fans could complain.
Well, the power play has been a weak spot at 16.6%, 21st in the League. Team defense, not holding leads, and 60 minute efforts have also been frustrating. Oh…and the occasional consecutive losses are a bit bothersome.
The team enters today’s game with the Rangers on the heels of a 3 game losing streak, only the second such occurrence this season (Oct 14, 16 and 21 being the other). They’ve lost two in a row only 3 other times, the last coming at the hands of Florida (12/20) and Vancouver (12/28).
When the Flyers have decided to take games off this year, they’ve done it as a team – it’s not as if a couple guys have an off night; only a couple of guys play their hearts out. Which leads me to one possibility as to what the current issue might be.
GM Paul Holmgren took a shot and signed Zherdev to one year, 2 million dollar deal for this season, knowing full well the player’s reputation as an offensive minded, defensively irresponsible type, rolling the dice that he would be a team-first guy buy into Coach Laviolette’s system and help the team reach its Stanley Cup goal.
Not quite. He showed flashes of the team game, but couldn’t string together more than a few games at a time without reverting to his old, lazy ways. This led to benchings late in games and a number of healthy scratches. Ultimately, at the request of his agent, the Flyers waived Zherdev in the week prior to the trade deadline, but (surprise) there were no takers.
After clearing waivers, and with the flu making the rounds in the Flyers’ dressing room, Zherdev has been in the lineup for these last 3 losses, tallying zero points on 5 shots, while showing a bit more of the two-way play that management and the fans were hoping to see all year. And while that’s all fine and dandy, the fact that he wanted to be waived and play somewhere else has to be in the back of the rest of the teams’ collective minds.
Have they taken a step back in their efforts, even subconsciously, because Zherdev is being given yet another chance on a team he wanted no part of just a week or so ago, or is it just a coincidence and this 3 game skid just an ordinary bump in the road during the course of a season?
The world may never know.