The first and second half of 2021 told two very different stories for the Philadelphia Flyers. The first half of represented the lowest time in both our fandom and the team’s history. Some of the worst, most lifeless hockey was played on the Wells Fargo Center ice. But the back half of the year and the start of the 2021-22 campaign brought out a brand new side of the Flyers. They overhauled the team during the offseason and got off to one of their best starts in recent history, albeit falling off the horse for a bit during November. There are plenty of things that didn’t suck during this otherwise horrendous year.
Number 5- Carter Hart
Hands down one of the biggest disappointments of the 2021 shortened season was the play of Carter Hart. He finished the year with just nine wins in 27 games with a 3.67 goals against average and .877 save percentage. After such a sour note, most were dropping their expectations for Hart, but he so far proved the doubters wrong in the 2021-22 season. He opened the season with a 2.25 goals against average and .932 save percentage through the team’s first 11 games and was playing some of the best hockey of his young career. Seeing the best of Carter Hart really renewed everyone’s faith that started to shake earlier in the year.
Number 4- Chuck Fletcher
After surviving years of Ron Hextall and the assorted bullshit that came with him, having a general manager that has been as open and honest as Fletcher is a breath of fresh air. Even though his lack of action caused the chaos that was the 2021 season, he was open to admitting his mistakes and put his money where his moth is during the offseason when he made sweeping changes to the roster. Is he perfect? No, but he’s trying his best to build a competitive hockey team in Philadelphia, something his predecessor couldn’t say.
Number 3- Oskar Lindblom’s Return
Oskar Lindblom returned to the ice during the 2020 playoff bubble after his battle with ewing’s sarcoma had come to an end and the story of his return to form has been a great storyline to follow since. This may not be the superstar season everyone expected when it was announced the Lindblom was back to his pre-cancer strength tests, but following him on his journey has been a special honor and he’ll always be a fan favorite in Philly because of it.
Number 2- Claude Giroux
Even as his 34th birthday appears on the horizon, Claude Giroux is still going strong. He may not be the force to be reckoned with on a nightly basis he once was, but he’s still more than capable of putting the team on his back and leading them to victory single-handedly every couple weeks. He tied for the team lead in points in 2020-21 and leads the team in points during the 2021-22 season. He is cementing himself as one of, if not the, greatest Flyer of all time and it’s been an honor to watch him still do his thing this late in his career.
Number 1- Gritty
Gritty was the saving grace during the abysmal 2020-21 season with his antics. He did all kinds of crazy stuff when the pandemic forced the Wells Fargo Center to be empty. He installed a ball pit, he installed a perch where he often took in games, he travelled with the team to Lake Tahoe, and much, much more. He may be a marketing tool designed specifically to take your attention away from the on-ice product, but in some cases, that’s a good thing.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Photo credit: whyy.org