Another chapter closes in the Flyers ongoing rebuild as they were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Islanders in seven games. Even though they didn’t win the big one this year, a failed attempt is a crucial part of the learning process.
The average age of the Philadelphia Flyers is 26.8, which is the 12th youngest team in the league. With youth comes inexperience. Five players made their playoff debut, four more only experienced the disaster that was the 2018 series against the Penguins, and some longer standing vets like Raffl, Laughton, and Gostisbehere who have made the playoffs multiple times in the Flyers career never got passed the first round. In fact, Giroux, Couturier, Voracek, and Van Riemsdyk were the only players on the team during the 2012 playoffs, the last time the Flyers made it past the first round.
Even though the Flyers went out early this year, getting the key young players, who they will count on for the next decade, playoff experience is a good place to start.
This was Carter Hart’s first taste on NHL playoff action and he did everything in his power to give the Flyers a chance to win every night. He pitched back-to-back shutouts in games three and four of their first round series against Montreal and, despite allowing at least three goals in every game against the Islanders, kept the rest of the team in the game by making crucial saves when the moment called for it. All this when coming off a season where Hart struggled mightily on the road.
Unfortunately for Hart, the rest of the team really didn’t show up. Sean Couturier and James Van Riemsdyk only had two goals, Claude Giroux had one, and Travis Konecny had zero. The Flyers’ leading scorer was Kevin Hayes who had four goals and 13 points in 16 games followed by second place Scott Laughton and Jake Voracek, who had nine points respectively.
The injury bug may have played a role for the Flyers, who lost Raffl for seven games throughout the playoffs after a nasty collision into the boards during the round robin. Farabee missed the last few games against the Islanders with a presumed concussion, Couturier missed a game with a sprained MCL, Aube-Kubel also missed three games with an undisclosed injury during the Montreal series.
Even though there were seemingly few bright spots on an individual level, the team adapted to the Toronto bubble as best they could given the circumstances. As we talked about on the game 7 postgame show, even though the Flyers didn’t go out at the top of their game, they put up a good fight. They made the second round of the playoffs for the first time in eight years, they fought back from a 3-1 series deficit, and a vast majority of the team will be back next year and they are still able to flaunt their youth as an asset and should remain competitive for years to come.
The ball is now in Chuck Fletcher’s court to make whatever moves he can in the offseason to take the Flyers to the next level. That won’t be easy, however, as the salary cap will remain flat and cap space is not in abundance, though if he plays his cards right, there are ways around the tight money situation.
Time will tell what happens this summer, but for now, hold your heads high. This is the beginning of something special for the Flyers. With some minor tweaks and better circumstances, there’s a good chance the Flyers will return next season better than this year and hopefully bring the Cup back to Philadelphia.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: actionnetwork.com