The calendar year of 2021 was one of the most chaotic and disappointing seasons in Flyers history. A collapse in March plagued them for the rest of the 2020-21 season and a fast start to 2021-22 was offset by a 10-game losing streak that ultimately cost Alain Vigneault his job. Even through all the turbulence that the team experienced, there have been some bright spots that have shone through the bit of seemingly never ending darkness that is the Philadelphia Flyers.
Even as his 34th birthday nears, Claude Giroux still carries the team on his back on a nightly basis. He just worked his way into second place in points in Flyers history with his 600th assist and 884th point. The whispers have started that his time as a Flyer may potentially be coming to a close, but if that ends up being the case, the Flyers are going to get a rude awakening at just how lackluster they are without their captain.
Leaving the abyss known as Buffalo, the only NHL team he had ever known, has done wonders for 27-year-old Rasmus Ristolainen. Despite a few hiccups, he has played very well for most of the season and has developed some good chemistry with defensive partner Travis Sanheim. He’s outplayed pretty much everyone’s expectations which is great to see.
When Chuck Fletcher hired Mike Yeo when he first came to Philadelphia, it should’ve been obvious to everyone that Yeo would eventually be the next head coach of the Flyers, whether it took two years or 10. It only took him a little over two before the reins were all his and now controlling this rolling turd is his responsibility. Godspeed, Mike Yeo.
It’s a little too early to start seeing results, but Frost has finally seemed to claim an NHL spot that was open because of injuries elsewhere in the lineup. His overall game has improved and he’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance, so if he can continue to make the most of this opportunity and rack up a few more points in the process, he may never see AHL time again.
After ditching the 6’5 210’b anchor he was attached to last season, Sanheim, who is about to turn 26 and is five years and almost 300 games into his career, finally is showing signs of being a semi-competent defenseman. It’s a small sample size, but it’s finally a step in the right direction.
Even though Farabee has been rough out of the gate in the 2021-22 season, he did manage to lead the Flyers in goals whilst recording his first 20-goal season of his career during the 2020-21 campaign. He’s just 22 years old and seemingly has the brightest future among Flyers forwards so the sky is still the limit for Farabee.
After guiding the Flyers to a playoff spot, securing that all important number one seed in the 2020 playoff bubble, and taking the team the furthest they’ve been since 2012, things seemed to be going well for head coach Alain Vigneault. Then March of 2021 rolled around and he managed to squeeze just a 22-29-6 record out of the group before he was fired on December 6.
TK once seemed like a star ready to break out, then the 2020 playoff bubble hit and he’s never been the same player since. He’s got just 16 goals in the 98 games since the puck dropped for game one against the Canadiens during the 2020 playoff bubble. His regression has been a big reason the Flyers can’t break the offensive funk they’ve been in. But at least he makes funny faces.
James Van Riemsdyk
2021 has been a rough year for JVR, but it didn’t start that way. He started the 2021 season with an eye-popping nine goals and 16 assists in the Flyers’ first 19 games, but followed that up with 13 goals and 16 assists in the last 66 games. As his 33rd birthday rolls around, it’s hard to expect much more from him at this point in his career, but considering he’s still cashing a $7 million paycheck for another season, it’s more than fair to be displeased with the lackluster hockey he’s been playing.
Laczynski’s first NHL recall came late last season before it come to a premature end thanks to a hip problem that required surgery. He returned for the 2021 preseason before being sidelined once again with a hip injury that required surgery. His promising college career set the bar for his expectations pretty high, but the guy just can’t seem to catch a break from the injury bug, limiting any real chance he’ll have at being successful a the NHL level.
The talented youngster isn’t here because of his play. He’s actually looked pretty good as an underaged player in the AHL during 2021. He’s here because he’s sustained three injuries during his time with the Phantoms, the most recent being a shoulder injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Some unfortunate luck for a kid that seems to have all the confidence in the world.
It was too little too late for Therrien, who quite frankly should’ve been fired last season. He came back for the first few months of the 2021-22 season, and despite changing up his approach and trying new things, the powerplay was still abysmal and it cost him his job.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: thestar.com / crossingbroad.com / minnesota.cbslocal.com / nbcsports.com