“Be a F***ing Flyer”
In his first season as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, Alain Vigneault has brought that new mantra into the locker room.
Throughout his coaching career, AV has picked up two conference championships, one in each the East and West. Just like fellow ex-Rangers coach and team USA icon Herb Brooks, his strong mentality of holding accountability, and not putting up with nonsense has carried him to 10 playoff runs in 16 years as a full-season head coach.
With his first half-season with the Flyers now in the books, let’s look at how his teams have faired through 41 games in the past.
Alain Vigneault may have started his career off in Montreal, but these are his forgotten years. After taking over for a dismal Canadians team prior to the 1997 season, AV did not do much to help. However, in his first season behind the Canadian’s bench was also his best:
|MONTREAL||Record/GF/GA thru 41 games||End of Year Finish:|
|1st Season||20-15-6, 2.80 GF, 2.39 GA||4th in NE division|
|2nd Season||15-19-7, 2.31 GF, 2.63 GA||5th in NE division|
|3rd Season||12-23-5-1, 2.17 GF, 2.71 GA||4th in NE division|
|4th season||12-23-4-2, 2.44 GF, 2.98 GA||5th in NE division|
In short, you can see why AV was used as a plug behind the bench while the Canadians went into rebuild mode entering the new millennium. It can be argued that AV’s coaching helped get Montreal over the hump by developing the younger talent (Saku Koivu and Martin Rucinsky) he had during his tenure. With that said, let’s shift focus to when he actually had a team to work with…
Vigneault spent the most time coaching one team while with the Canucks. Lucky enough to take over with the Sedins and Luongo in their primes, AV took plenty of advantage of the talent he had.
|VAN||Record/GF/GA||End of Year Finish:|
|1st season||22-18-1, 2.44 GF, 2.59 GA||1st in NW, lost conference semi-finals|
|2nd season||23-14-4, 2.63 GF, 2.68 GA||5th in NW Division|
|3rd Season||21-15-5, 2.85 GF, 2.63 GA||1st in NW, lost conference semi-finals|
|4th Season||24-16-1, 3.15 GF, 2.49 GA||1st in NW, lost conference semi-finals|
|5th Season||27-8-6, 3.44 GF, 2.41 GA||1st in NW, Stanley Cup Run (West champs)|
|6th Season||25-13-3, 3.27 GF, 2.41 GA||1st in NW, lost in conf. quarters|
|7th Season||11-7-6 (Lockout), 2.75 GF, 2.79 GA||1st in NW, swept in conf. quarters|
Once he had some experience under his belt, along with some form of talent to work with, Vigneault consistently made the playoffs. As you can see in the charts, AV consistently started seasons off strong. With that said, his success continued, as he made the playoffs in six of those seven seasons.
The Rangers and Canucks soon conducted the rare “swap” of coaches during the 2013 offseason. After being let go from Vancouver following the 2012-2013 season, AV was quickly picked up by the Rangers weeks later, as John Tortorella went to the Canucks.
Vigneault took over for a successful Rangers team, and continued that success. In fact, after one of AV’s slower first-half starts, he brought the Rangers to the promised land, where they nearly got swept by the Kings.
|NYR||Record/GF/GA||End of Year Finish:|
|1st Season||20-19-2, 2.34 GF, 2.66 GA||Stanley Cup Run (East Champs)|
|2nd Season||24-13-4, 3.02 GF, 2.46 GA||1st in Metro, lost in conf. finals|
|3rd Season||22-14-5, 2.95 GF, 2.66 GA||3rd in Metro, lost first round|
|4th Season||27-13-1, 3.44 GF, 2.51 GA||4th in Metro,Wild Card, lost in second round|
|5th Season||22-14-5, 3.10 GF, 2.80 GA||8th in Metro|
Throughout his Rangers tenure, the first half of the season was consistently successful. In all but one season, his teams averaged (basically) three goals per game, while allowing nearly half a goal fewer.
Comparing to Philadelphia
Throughout his coaching career, Vigneault has had strong success starting seasons. This is especially evident during his first season with teams, as shown in the charts above. AV has been able to come onto new teams and implement a system that encourages fast-paced forechecks that are started by playing solid defense. His philosophy of earning the offensive zone based on defensive zone play has been shown in the Flyers’ games this season, especially at home.
Most importantly, in his history as a coach, Vigneault has had so much success due to his ability to develop locker room chemistry. With help from a familiar friend in Kevin Hayes, AV has been able to build a positive locker room, even in light of the Oskar Lindblom news. The Flyers finally seem like a fun-loving family again.
Reflecting on his first season with Philly, AV brought his early season success with him. Despite all of the injuries and such, the Flyers have a 22-14-5 record, with 3.20 goals for compared to allowing 3.01 goals per game.
We all know the deal with Philadelphia so far. The Flyers are unstoppable at home, but can’t seem to get into a groove away from Wells Fargo Center. However, if history does repeat itself, it’s no secret that the Flyers are playoff-bound for the first time since getting bounced by the Penguins to end their 2017-2018 season.
The Flyers have not been able to win a playoff series since beating the Penguins during the 2011-2012 playoffs. As for Alain Vigneault, he has a history of not being able to get over the hump and get past the first round. As this seems like a recipe for disaster, this could at least mean a playoff seed, right?
In a more positive light, the Metropolitan division is so tightly matched. Meanwhile, the Flyers have not yet clicked on all cylinders and still only sit four points back of third place in the division. With Giroux, Voracek, and Couturier trending in a positive direction, Philly will soon find themselves surging during the second half of the season.