This time last year, the Philadelphia Flyers were not looking anything close to promising. Under former head coach, Dave Hakstol, the Flyers began 2019 sitting tied for 30th place in the entire National Hockey League. Fast forward a year later; it is a new season, a new coach, and even a new decade. The Flyers found a way to cut their league standings from second to last to the upper-middle of the pack, currently holding 12th place in the NHL.
Last year, the Flyers held less than impressive record through their first 41 games of the season. Through the first half of the 2018-2019 season, the Flyers were 15-20-6, earning only 36 points. The only two teams with equally poor records were the struggling Ottawa Senators and the St. Louis Blues – and clearly, the Blues figured out how to overcome their early struggles by the end of the Playoffs.
However, going into 2020 and still through 41 games, the Flyers have put up a rather impressive record when compared to their former early-season performances. Sitting at 22-14-5 with 49 points, the difference in 13 points is astounding. Although only holding the second wild-card position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs right now, the Flyers are now a more skilled team in the most talented Metropolitan Division in the NHL.
Another interesting statistic with a stark contrast from this year to last, is the Flyers Goals For/Goals Allowed numbers. This season, the Flyers are a plus-8 differential, meaning they have scored 8 more goals than they have allowed – not a bad average. Last season at this time, they were a minus-34 differential, having allowed 148 goals and scoring 114.
To attribute to this vast improvement in the Goals For/Goals Against, it is easiest to look at the Flyers’ growing offense this season. One of the biggest standouts is Travis Konecny. Last year, Konecny played the full season of 82 games and finished with 49 points (24 G, 25 A). Through only 38 games played so far this season, Konecny has tallied 36 points (12 G, 24 A). With the pace that he is on, there is no doubt that he will surpass his former numbers in the second half of this season.
Goaltending has also taken on a giant transformation between the two seasons, which has definitely contributed to the Flyers’ newfound success. Last season, the Flyers had found themselves going through 8 different goaltenders due to injuries, poor performance, and desperation. However, this season, goaltenders Brian Elliott and Carter Hart have been the only two men between the pipes, both with winning records themselves.
For these reasons, the Flyers were able to finally start the season with a winning record, and a promising team. Going from 30th in the entire league to 12th is no easy feat, and while it’s no Stanley Cup yet, it is a step in the right directions. With help from offensive youth, new faces, and stellar goaltending, the Flyers are on the rise. If I were the rest of the NHL, I would keep an eye on the Orange and Black.
Mandatory Credit – Alex McIntyre