The Philadelphia Flyers finished off their disappointing 2016-17 season with a 4-3 shootout loss at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. The loss means the Flyers finish the year with 88 points and a record of 39-33-10. It marks an eight point drop from last season when the orange and black made the playoffs. If the Flyers had equaled last seasons point total, they would have made the playoffs for the second straight season.
There were some highs for the Flyers this season. Wayne Simmonds scored more than 30 goals for the second straight season, finishing off the campaign by scoring his 31st Sunday night against the Hurricanes.
Rookie Ivan Provorov turned into the Flyers top defenseman at the ripe age of 20, averaging over 21 minutes of ice time per game while playing in all key situations.
Rookies Travis Konecney and Jordan Weal (if he is resigned, which he should be), provided a glimpse of what the Flyers need. Speed and offensive creativity.
Second year defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere finally appeared healthy over the last month (even though he would never admit it took time to recover from off season surgery) and showed why he will be anchoring the blue line for years to come along with Provorov.
We’ll Start with the coaching. There were simply too many questionable coaching decisions by Coach Dave Hakstol, who appeared overwhelmed and over his head during his second season. The constant whipping boys Gostisbehere and Konecney were not only being benched for stretches of games, but relegated to the press box for games and weeks at a time. Both players bring something the Flyers sorely lack..offense and speed. Yet it takes 81 games for a player like Chris VandeVelde and his six goals to sit. Hakstol attempted to use sitting Konecney and Gostisbehere as teaching moments because of poor defensive play. Well coach, how do you explain not sitting a number of veteran players for far worse play..and far worse defensive play?! Different rules for different players. Hakstol seemed scared to sit a player like Jake Voracek and his team worst -24 plus minus rating. It makes one wonder if the players contract has anything to do with it.. (we all know it does).
The Flyers became the first team in NHL history to have a ten game winning streak during the regular season and miss the playoffs. The Flyers were a model of inconsistency throughout the season and it ultimately cost them in the end. The team’s defensive zone play was horrendous at times and the one part of this version of the Flyers that was thought to be a strength, turned out to be a glaring weakness…goaltending.
Steve Mason grabbed the number one job, but the Flyers had put themselves in too much of a hole. He was their best player, along with Gostisbehere over the last month of the season. General Manager Ron Hextall’s contract extensions for the oft injured Michal Neuvirth and fourth liner Pierre-Edouard Bellemare are absolutely mind boggling.
Two words describe the Flyers season. Inconsistency and regression. The only part of the Flyers that were consistent this season was their inconsistency. They take two steps forward and three back. When they score, their defense lets them down. When they play strong defensively, they cannot score. The Flyers do have a strong crop of young players on the horizon. Gostisbehere’s Union College teammate Mike Vecchione will benefit from a full NHL training camp and he brings speed and offense to the team. We saw Sam Morin already once this past season and looked very good paired with Gostisbehere. Add in players like Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, Phil Myers, Carter Hart and Anthony Stolarz and the future looks bright. They may have taken a step or two back in 2016-17, but hopefully they take three forward come 2017-18.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports