After the disaster of a season 2021-22 was, I think it's fair to say our expectations our pretty low, from the constant injuries plaguing this team, to the absolute trainwreck of Chuck Fletcher this offseason, I think it's fair to say it has been a rough couple of years for Flyer Fans.
A Team Lacking Direction
Honestly, 2 seasons ago, if you asked me where the Flyers would be, I would have expected us to be a solid playoff contender, at the time we were all excited to see Ryan Ellis, Fletcher got us Cam Atkinson for Voracek, but then also had some headscratchers, trading a first and a second round pick for a historically poor performing defense man? Let's just say there were still decent expectations coming into the season, however nobody could have predicted all the injuries that occurred.
After last season (25-46-11), there was expectations going into the offseason for major change, especially considering the "agressive retool" we were all expecting, instead Fletcher brought back in some minor pieces and a replacement for Ghost. A pretty disappointing haul especially considering Johnny Gaudreau wanted to come to Philly (perhaps even at a lower price), but Fletcher didn't even extend an offer out, you're not gonna bring fans back by bringing in mediocre depth players, even if we had gaudreau, i don't think we would be competetive, but considering we traded Giroux this team has no high end talent (except Couturier, but he's been injured for a majority of the last season). This team needs high end talent, the fans have no interest in paying $150 tickets+ to see a second NHL Line and AHL Players against the rest of the league. At least with Chicago it is clear, they are shooting for Bedard, what are we trying to do, end up vaguely 10 spots from the bottom?
A Firey New Coach
Say what you want about Tortorella, but on a team that lacks any discernible structure, I believe him to be a key to our future success. If the Flyers play well this year, great, but as a coach, you can only do so much with the limited talent, and while most of us have written this season off already, I don't think it would be fair to blame coaching. We're Philly, when our teams suck, the players will all know, but excited to see how Torts handles it, if you didn't already see, for a substantial portion of training camp, he did have them doing bag skates. At the end of the day, success or not, he will at least add a much needed accountability factor to this team (Remember the PLD Situation).
My Expectations for Tortorella
1. Holding players accountable, as seen previously he is not afraid to bench poor performing players, we've also seen him get the best out if the players he has, remember under Torts, Cam did have a 41 Goal Season.
2. Better Structure on the Special Teams
3. Tighter Defense
4. Cleaner Breakouts
The Injury Bug
Looking back at the 2021-22 season, there were a ton of issues on this team, from lack of leadership, to poor performances by almost everyone, but none greater than the Injuries that plagued this team, let's take a look
Kevin Hayes - played 48/82 games (although i'll give him a break here, the situation with his brother was tragic)
Sean Couturier - played 29/82 games (Think a consistent Selke nominee out for over half our season?)
Ryan Ellis - played 4/82 games (we knew he was injury prone coming in, but this is insane, losing a potentially top tier defenseman)
Joel Farabee - played 63/82 games (Losing 19 games from one of your top 5 scorers is pretty substantial)
Ryan Ellis - Out Indefinitely
Sean Couturier - (Unknown status, various articles have mentioned he may play this season, but that herniated disc seems to be a recurring issue unfortunately)
Bobby Brink - (Not expected back until December)
Joel Farabee - (Neck Injury expected to return Mid-October)
Gained/Extended: Justin Braun (FA), Tony Deangelo (TR), Nick Seeler (EXT),
Moved/Retired: Keith Yandle (R), Sam Morin (R)
Defensively, as with the rest, this year has been rough, Philadelphia let in the 6th most goals in the NHL at 294, 7th from the bottom on the PK at 75.74%, tied for 3rd for most shorthanded goals against at 11, and 6th in goals against per game at 3.59 AVG. The stats speak for themselves, while the defense has been lackluster, it also seems Carter Hart has lost his confidence, there were times were he seemed uncomfortable in his own net, we can look at another statistic, Philadelphia was 4th in most shots against in the 2021-22 season at 2785, too many shots are getting through, with Torts, I expect more players to block more shots and be more solid defensively.
Remember the days when "THE FLYERS ARE GOING ONNN THE PEEECOOOO POWER PLAY" meant something, over the past decade, we may have been inconsistent, but the powerplay was always something we never seemed to have to worry about too much, you look back even to 2014-15 we were 3rd in the league on the powerplay, this past season, we were dead last and had the 3rd most shorthanded goals scored against us. absolutely disappointing, when on a powerplay we're more concerned about getting scored on than excited to see Giroux blast it in from the dot. I'd chop it up to the Simmonds trade to be frank, Simmer was always that netfront presence, picking up goals from the crease, this team struggles to even stay in the zone, let alone score goals. With Deangelo, that will give us a decent quarterback on the PP, something we lost after trading ghost, however, there still needs to be more offense from the forwards if the Powerplay is to improve.
The PK is another issue, it's covered pretty nicely in this article by Colin Newby
This is just what i'm expecting to see, although under Torts, who knows?
1st Line: Atkinson-Hayes-Farabee
2nd Line: Konecny-Laughton-JVR
3rd Line: N. Cates-Frost-Tippett (hot take, I think Noah is poised for a breakout season, it may be worth seeing how he handles the NHL level, Tippett may be moved up a line depending on injuries, if Couturier is out i expect Hayes to move up, TK Center, and Tippett Wing)
4th Line: Deslauriers-Laczynski-Macewen
Forwards are going to be interesting to watch this season, I'd like to see Laughton in a more elevated role, i think last season as disappointing as the whole team was, there was a higher level from Scott and I'd be curious to see if he could handle a 2nd line C. The 3rd Line i expect to Shuffle a bit, depending on injuries especially, there are a handful of young forwards that are borderline. it's tough to say with injuries, but I'm looking forward to seeing Bobby Brink this season and Noah Cates, What are your thoughts?
1st Line Provorov-Deangelo (Should balance out if Provy can bounce back, Nice to have a good mix of offense and D)
2nd Line Sanheim-Braun? (Braun may be 35, but still I'd trust defensively more than Risto, Statistically)
3rd Line York-Risto (That 3rd Line D Spot is up for grabs right now, curious to see who takes advantage during training camp)
Defensively i would say we have improved (addition by subtraction), without Yandle, it opens up a spot for some of our younger defensive prospects to get a shot such as York, Zamula, Attard. the whole situation with Keith Yandle, you can see it from both sides, Realistically, a streak that has no merit is no achievement, if he was putting up points and Defending, fine, but there wasn't any major production. On the other side of the coin, we were already out of the playoffs, the last few games didn't matter, so do with that what you will.
2022-23 Season what should we expect?
As obvious at it sounds, I don't expect us in the playoffs unless this team can show some heart, beyond that, I think we all want to see us go after Bedard, but I'm not gonna rest my hopes on it, realistically if they want the fans to come back, they need to rehaul completely, bring in some star talent, remember 2010, we had Pronger, Richards, Carter, Timonen, Briere, Gagne, Giroux, Hartnell, looking at us now, Provorov (if he can pick it back up), Atkinson, Coots (but he seems to be getting injured more frequently), Carter Hart? (I'd say it still may be too early to say if I'm honest), Realistically nobody wants to pay $100+ for tickets, $22 for parking, for a team that can't even make it past the first period. People aren't interested in going for a subpar product, attendance was down to the lowest it's been since 1972, I suspect the number to actually be lower, just going to games, over half the seats are empty, Philly fans have had enough. let's keep our fingers crossed though, the future looks bright with guys like Ratcliffe, Cates, Gauthier, and Foerster, Only time will tell.