As crazy as it sounds, the Flyers should try to avoid a lengthy winning streak this late into the season. The Flyers aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, but in reality they don’t have much of a shot. This team, with everything they’ve been through this year, is not poised for a playoff run. There is also a possible “generational” player available in this year’s draft, his name is Jack Hughes, and as it stands now the Flyers have a 9.5% chance of drafting him. Why drop that number? Especially in a season that has become an evaluation period for new GM Chuck Fletcher.
The Flyers are now a cellar dweller team. After defeating the Boston Bruins Wednesday night the Flyers have played 47 games so far this season. With a little less than half a season left they sit last in the Metropolitan division, 14 points behind 4th place Pittsburgh, and 28th overall in the NHL. As we approach the all-star break that’s not where any team wants to be in the standings, unless they are trying to get the next Connor McDavid in the draft. Life at the bottom of the standings this late into the season usually means no playoffs as well. The Flyers do not seem to be playoff contenders this year due to many factors, including a goalie carousel in which 7 different goalies have suited up for the orange and black, and the mid-season firings of former GM (Ron Hextall) and former head coach (Dave Hakstol). As of now the Flyers are still trying to find an identity.
Any winning streak of more than 5 games is tough to come by for the Flyers. In the past 5 seasons they have six separate winning streaks of five games or more. To compare, Pittsburgh had six separate winning streaks of five or more games in the last two seasons. Furthermore, the Flyers almost always end their winning streaks with losing streaks, going a combined 6-17-7 in the five games following each winning streak. This also highlights how inconsistent the team has been over the last several seasons.
Not all winning streaks are bad, even if they are sometimes pointless, teams gain confidence along with gaining points in the standings. The chemistry and consistency the Flyers are lacking can be gained each night on the ice, and they don’t always have to win the game. They just need to stay consistent with forward and defense line pairings each night so players can really start bonding with each other and create an identity for this team. When healthy this is a dangerous team, if they are managed efficiently.
Every team at some point has to go through the “rebuild” process, a great current example is Vancouver. The Flyers right now are in the middle, leaning more young than old. You have your young guns in Nolan Patrick, T.K., Gostisbehere, and Provorov as well as a veteran core group in Giroux, Voracek, JVR, and Simmonds. They also seem to have established their goalie of the future in Carter Hart. And yet the team still lacks consistency and doesn’t have a true identity. A long winning streak won’t fix these problems, but a generational player will.
Generational players are a rare breed; one can argue there are only a select few in today’s NHL. Not every draft has such a high caliber player available, but this upcoming draft does in Jack Hughes, according to scouts. New GM Chuck Fletcher seems to like the draft saying “there seems to be decent depth right through the first round.” The Flyers could also use a top 4 defensemen, so if they don’t get Hughes they can still greatly improve the team with a high draft pick.
A long winning streak at this point in the season will only hurt the chances of improving this team for the future. They will fall out of a good draft position and most likely still miss the playoffs. Winning games is the goal in every sport, but we can’t lose focus on improving the team going forward, especially when there is a chance to draft a game changing player.
By: Kevin Thaete (@BigKT23)
Photo credit: sporting news