For the past few seasons of Flyers hockey, they have remained an inconsistent hockey team. One night the orange and black would tally five goals and the next, only one. In addition, the Flyers always appear to be chasing the game. The Flyers trailed 2-0, 32 times out of 82 games last season. Getting behind the 8-ball night after night really takes its toll on a team. They become tired and flat. Let’s not talk about how bad the penalty kill was, as well (see later).
Chuck Fletcher added some key players and hired a brand new coaching staff this offseason to fix these problems, and hopefully make this team a consistent hockey team for the 2019-20 season. There is a reason to believe Flyers fans, and an athlete in Philadelphia should help provide some optimism for Flyers fans:
The time is now and here are some reasons to start believing in the underdog Flyers.
Hiring a Veteran Head Coach in Alain Vigneault should help the Flyers get off to faster starts. This was a great addition to a team that needed some direction, and this should provide some hope for the future. Vigneault knew that slow starts was a problem last season, and he knows how to address it, “The way I prepare my teams, I think that will have a very solid impact,” Vigneault said after he was hired, “Let’s not shy away from the players responsibility in this. It is their responsibility to get themselves in that mental state, that mental zone where you go out on the ice and you execute, you perform and you compete. I’m going to make sure that each and every one of our players understands his part in this. I am and my staff are going to our part as far as giving them the information that they need for the upcoming opponent and what they need to do have success as a team against that opponent.”
The Flyers scored 63 first period goals last season, which was good enough for 22nd in the league. This was followed by 82 goals in period two and 90 goals in period three. To prove this point even further teams scored 94 first period goals against the Flyers, and that leaves a -31 goal differential.
For the last four to five years, maybe longer, the Flyers notoriously have come out flat, and behind the 8-ball in a lot of games. It appears they lack the urgency, and they play uninspired hockey for a period or two. This has resulted in them fighting for their playoff lives towards the tail end of the season. Something has to give to fix the problem. The Flyers can ill afford being gassed at the end of the year next season. They are supposed to take the next step next season, so getting off to a fast start early in the year is critical for this young team. Hopefully, with hiring Vigneault, this young Flyers team can score first, more often next season.
The Penalty Kill
When is enough, enough? For the past few seasons, the Flyers were bottom feeders in terms of their penalty killing. It’s unacceptable for a team that was supposed to take the next step in their rebuild last season. Ian Laperriere was the Assistant Coach for the Penalty Kill Unit since the 2013-14 season. He is a great guy, and “Lappy” gave his all when he donned a Flyers sweater. However, he just didn’t get the job done.
Under the supervision of Laperriere, the Flyers ranked 29th in the NHL with a penalty-killing success rate of 75.8% in 2017-18. In addition, the orange and black ranked 26th in the NHL with a penalty-killing success rate of 78.5% in 2018-19. A new season of Flyers hockey brought no change to the defensive style, which was ironic because the orange and black had the personnel to adopt the attack style system.
This attack system will force their opponents to think on the fly, as opposed to giving space to create. Moreover, it would make their opponents become more predictable with a dump and chase system. It would be like the Flyers teams of years past.
Fletcher fixes this problem with the additions of a Defensive/PK coach in Mike Yeo, and players Kevin Hayes and Justin Braun. Yeo communicates with his players and lets them know where each one stands. Moreover, Hayes and Braun are PK specialists that just know where to be and when. Hayes also provides the orange and black as a scoring threat on that unit, as well.
Hart is the real deal. He is confident in his abilities, and Hart just trains, trains, and trains in the offseason. Hart will have some bad games next year for sure, but they will be few and far between. Having Hart for a full year should provide a boost to this young Flyers team, and hopefully propel them to the playoffs.
Last season, Hart was 16-13-1, with a 2.83 GAA, and a .917 Save Percentage. This season Hart will look to improve upon those numbers, and hopefully make them a legit threat at the goaltending position once and for all.
Mike Scott is talking about Flyers hockey in the dead smack of Summer. Fletcher made some wise decisions this offseason to improve the team. The time is now Flyers fans to get behind this underdog club. They will be better than most people think.
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports