Even if the Philadelphia Flyers are sitting on the outside looking into the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we can still take a couple neat reminders of what this team was this season and could be in the future.
Whether it is a return to an offensive powerhouse that they were able to tease us with last season, or a complete pumpkin of a team that rolls around the regular season wanting someone to blame — depending on some players to drag them to competency, the Flyers and this fanbase can learn what it takes to be in this specific postseason.
Maybe it will be totally different next year, but these are the trends that are extremely noticeable and what it means for this Flyers team.
Goaltending Can Kill You
This is a fairly obvious one that has been made evident by the Flyers’ having some of the worst goaltending in the history of the modern NHL. Like seriously.
Tristan Jarry (lol), Jordan Binnington, Mike Smith, the Washington Capitals tandem — whatever path you decide to go down and look into, there were a handful of goaltenders that straight up kicked themselves out of the playoffs. It is an incredibly important position that can either carry you or bury you.
That’s the easy part, but determining whether Carter Hart is going to be the one that can carry this team (he did last year at points, so) is hard to predict. The Flyers at least have some stability and are not trying to contend with a giant question mark in between the pipes. History is there and there is no way they are this bad again.
Forward Depth Is Good
Not to be too positive about the Flyers’ season, but they at least had this. Theoretically a full four-line deep forward group that can provide both defense and offense whenever they needed it, this is the type of lineup that can win you a series.
If your stars are being suffocated at the blue line a la Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, you can depend on the other lines scoring some damn goals once in a while. Beyond Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee and the like, the Flyers theoretically have stable forwards that can keep them in some of those games on The Big Stage. James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konency, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes — there’s loads of just absolute dudes that have historically proven that they can lead the offense at points throughout a tough game.
It’s simply not enough to have a top-heavy lineup that has the spotlight upon your first line and a bunch of scum trickling down the ice behind them. The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t earn a championship solely off the shoulders of Nikita Kucherov, and the Washington Capitals didn’t get their first ever Stanley Cup just depending on Ovechkin to do everything. It was their depth that they either added after getting those stars, or building through a steady process.
Philadelphia has the depth up front that most teams salivate for, they just have to get the rest figured out. A larger task than is really possible to fix in one offseason. God bless Cameron York.
If Not, There’s Coaching
Beyond anything — and the dreadful New York Islanders have taught us this — there is always a head coach to depend on. Barry Trotz isn’t certainly the only reason the Islanders are currently in the second round, but it’s a major factor considering what they’ve done to their roster.
Just letting Devon Toews walk to Colorado for a couple of mediocre draft picks, keeping around bums like Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, or Cal Clutterbuck, it’s not the most savvy of managerial moves. Trotz works his ass off hard-matching lines and changing up strategies in the middle of games to keep up with any offense he faces. We all know what he did last season.
If nothing is clicking and the team is just sitting like a quiescent duck, a head coach can change those tactics. Load up their top line, shuffle around the blue line, change the powerplay strategy — there are loads of things one can do if nothing is working and we know that is something the Flyers currently do not have.
Endless nights of frustration, Alain Vigneault was making questionable decisions and saying questionable things after the eventual loss. With what he has done with this roster so far, it’s hard to see him being behind the bench the next time the Flyers win a playoff series.
But hockey is weird and we are fans of the weirdest, most unpredictable team in the league, so we can just roll with it and see what happens. All we can know is that there are things that make teams click and better in the postseason and the Flyers at least have some of them already.