It’s that point of the offseason again. Usually saved for the time of year that involves sun, barbecues, and hobbling around like an idiot through a crowded beach, the write-ups and season previews of each team are running through their various outlets.
Steeped in the recency bias of what transactions the clubs have made after the Stanley Cup has been awarded, these powerful rankings are still generally correct when it comes to public consensus. But this year is obviously different. We’re huddling around the fire, wrapped up in ugly blankets and preparing for the various holidays while reading the offseason content, yelling why our team isn’t anywhere to be found.
Like seriously, the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t considered to be one of the top teams in the NHL.
The TOP 10 teams in the NHL RIGHT NOW according to the @ProHockeyTalk writers.— #ThankYouDoc (@NHLonNBCSports) November 10, 2020
More HERE: https://t.co/8RQx6OMkSa pic.twitter.com/D93fIwKRWo
After a season that almost mirrored their 2010-11 campaign in terms of points percentage and saw them reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012, the Flyers are apparently still worse than the Pittsburgh “Get Knocked Out By The Terrible Canadiens” Penguins and the Edmonton “Good For The First Time In Forever” Oilers.
This has already been covered enough, but it demonstrates a remarkable absence of knowledge about this team. It might simply be GM Chuck Fletcher’s lack of impact moves over the offseason, which would increase conversation around the team, but that shouldn’t be the sole reason why the Flyers have just simply not been talked about on a more national stage.
Philadelphia is suffering from one of the worst things you could have in modern professional sports — just being there. With no national superstar to put on the front cover (sorry Claude) and not looking completely dominant the entire season, the Flyers are just simply stuck in this “oh yeah, maybe they can win” loop going into next season.
It certainly didn’t help that their season ended by gruesome suffocation at the hands of the ugly and boring New York Islanders — getting lost in the pile of defensive hockey’s victims. At times they were incredibly fun to watch and quite possible were the most entertaining team at one point during the season, but the last several games of their season, with the spotlight on them, were clouded with limited shots on goal and scoring chances.
This terrible and forgetful ending only left the Flyers in a worse spot heading out of the playoffs. With a core already in tact and just some small cap-friendly adjustments made, they are going into their next campaign with basically the same team with a few tweaks. Matt Niskanen is not here anymore, but he has been replaced by Erik Gustafsson, and that has been the only real switch compared to last season’s roster. There was no need to fix what was broken by some team that wanted to kill everything fun about the sport, but that only left them more mysterious according to some national hockey minds.
The Flyers were the first team mentioned in The Athletic’s Sean McIndoe’s article about teams that “have him stumped” during this offseason. McIndoe even mentions that Philadelphia should still be a very good team, but plays devil’s advocate and makes the argument that they were just hot for a couple months and rode Carter Hart to a postseason bye.
Goalie rides aside, Philadelphia is just simply lost in their own division. The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins hog the spotlight because of a couple of generational talents, and unfortunately for all of us, the New York Rangers are getting an exciting young crop of forwards that has the casual fan salivating. Even the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders were able to make some noise — the former much more deserving. This just leaves the Flyers lost in the national conversation when it comes to their own division.
I’m not pining for this team to be at the forefront of every hockey fan’s mind, but instead just for them to be mentioned every once in a while as championship contenders. Everybody is aware that they have the parts necessary to do it. The Flyers have an actual goaltender, not someone that barely can qualify as one for Halloween. They have forwards that are able to score goals and create offense while being responsible defensively, and a blue line that is young enough to invest your hope into.
This can all change once the season gets underway in a couple months. We can be witness to a hot streak like none other and get all riled up for the long awaited return of the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia, or the Flyers will suck to start their season and we’ll all go “Oh right, nevermind we don’t want that attention.”
All I want is someone to yell from the mountaintop of the national media that the Flyers were damn good last year and still are. Now all we have to do is suffer through the holidays to restart the discussion.