The tank is over, folks
Can’t even lose right...
Well, the one thing that could have made this Flyers season a success is almost definitely not going to happen.
The race to the bottom of the NHL standings that has captivated a third of the league is about to enter its fever pitch. As Connor Bedard reaches 100 points in just 40 Western Hockey League games, the team in pole position for his services plays in the Metropolitan Division, has Jake Voracek on injured reserve, and is led by a noted Eagles fan.
Yet, it’s not the Flyers. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently sit 32 out of 32 in the NHL standings, giving them a 25.5% chance at landing the Regina Pats phenom. Of course this is subject to change with more games played, but the Blue Jackets currently sit at a record of 13-34-4, good for 38 points . The Flyers currently have a record of 22-24-10, which puts them at 54 points, good for a 16 point gap between the Flyers and the basement floor.
Quite honestly, the Blue Jackets being this bad is somewhat surprising, but when you watch teams that trail the Flyers in points, such as the Anaheim Ducks and the Arizona Coyotes, you see that there is a gap. The Flyers are capable of having games where they dominate possession and physical play, mostly against other teams in the bottom third, but regardless, this is not an ability that many of the other teams below them have.
The results of the late December/early January West Coast road trip kind of epitomized what this team has become. They played four games against some of the worst of the Western Conference, the aforementioned Ducks and Coyotes, the equally awful San Jose Sharks — who hold the 4th best odds for Bedard, and an LA Kings team who has been much better this season. They won all four, sweeping a section of the season that even in the best of years is a difficult stretch for most teams.
But that is what the Flyers do, they beat up on the really bad teams. Against the Blackhawks, Ducks, Sharks, and Blue Jackets, the Flyers’ record is 6-4-2. These are the games that, in this context, matter the most. Everybody in the league loses to the good teams, that is why they’re good, when you beat the bad teams, you’re just okay.
But this was expected right? The front office has been adamant in the belief that they have the talent to compete, and I think John Tortorella’s head would explode if the team was languishing among the true bottom-feeders. Even when Tortorella’s teams are bad, they rarely ever dip too far below .500, and if they do, he is usually out the door.
Over the last 20 years, Torts has been under .500 twice: 2007-08, when he was fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and 2020-21, when he was fired by Columbus. Say what you will about John Tortorella, his teams by and large make the playoffs, or at least come close.
That ability is not infinite, and there isn’t a coach out there that could make the Flyers a viable playoff team in their current state; there just simply isn’t enough talent. However, there is still enough for Tortorella to take a team that, on paper, should almost definitely be deep in the lottery, and make them almost perfectly mediocre.
So mourn the tank and what it could have been. Put your 98 Flyers jerseys away, close photoshop, it just isn’t gonna happen. 57 games in, and unless another 10-game losing streak is in the cards, a generational talent will elude the Flyers once again. They’re simply not good enough at being bad.