Mercifully, the Philadelphia Flyers 2021-2022 campaign is complete. Unable to finish with a victory on home ice, the Ottawa Senators earned the win, 4-2.
Not all was awful. For a change, the powerplay converted more than it didn’t. James van Riemsdyk and Owen Tippett kept the Flyers close with their powerplay markers.
“The last couple of games, I feel like I had the chances. It felt nice to get one and breakthrough.”Owen Tippett; 4/29/2022
Brady Tkachuk logged the game-winner. To that point, Philadelphia was perfect on the penalty kill. From the faceoff circle, Tkachuk sniped the puck past Martin Jones. Tkachuk had a hand in tying the game, taking the puck away from Ivan Provorov in the defensive zone and setting up Joshua Norris, allowing his team to gather momentum.
“It’s obviously something that’s got to be corrected. Winning hockey and understanding every play makes a difference in a hockey game. Two of the goals they scored tonight come from offensive zone situations. We have to learn and recognize how critical those areas are. You look at a number of the goals we’ve given up this year, a lot of them we have the puck on our stick at that particular time. A sense of awareness, game management, also taking what the other team is giving you; you have to have the urgency in those situations to not lose the puck.”Mike Yeo; 4/29/2022
It is more valuable down the final stretch of a lost season for a team to compete. The Flyers kept honest, and against the teams they still should have beaten, they weren’t good enough. Staying honest provides an accurate assessment of the state of this team after the trade deadline. A silver lining could be that there is a better idea about the system depth at the NHL level. Securing top four odds at the first overall pick ahead of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft helps the youth movement as Philadelphia searches for an identity.
Let’s all collectively hit the reset button.
Break Up Day 2022
Following the end of the season, the Philadelphia Flyers met with the media for the Break Up Day. It’s the final day the team meets with the media. Here’s a brief rundown of each player from the podium.
“I thought I played pretty well in the fifteen or so games I played here. It doesn’t really matter. They’re trying to put the best team on the ice. I just want to be a part of that and turning this thing around. A good summer will give me the best chance to do that.”Noah Cates; 4/30/2022
His pace of scoring shows that he can contribute at the NHL level. In sixteen games, he scored nine points (5G, 4A.) It’ll be interesting to see where he fits next season. Cates, a fifth-round pick from 2017, passed the eye test. Good teams have a bottom-six who contribute, and Cates could help the Philadelphia Flyers trend in that direction.
“It’s going to be a competitive environment once September comes around. I’m going to have to have a big summer; work on my strength, speed, and be ready to win a job next fall.”Ronnie Attard; 4/30/2022
These are hungry prospects with ambition. They’re putting the clamps down on the veterans. Attard shows the ability to enter the offensive zone with poise, similar to Travis Sanheim. Additionally, Attard shows that he can play a physical brand while protecting the puck. The Philadelphia Flyers need to become more inexpensive, and Attard, in fifteen games, proved he can hang with the pace in the NHL.
“I’m going home for the month of May. Then, I’ll be back here training all summer, from June to September.”Cam York; 4/30/2022
York recovered from a hairline fracture in his foot after he blocked a shot by Alexander Ovechkin. He finished that game, too! His vision is refreshing to an otherwise stale method of transitioning into the offensive zone. A note to the next head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers: let York and Sanheim work the powerplay. A balanced defense has shakers and movers; York is a mover.
“I think it definitely helps me, that I can be versatile in that sense and play both. I’m open to whatever will help me play here. As a center, compared to the start of the year, I think I drastically improved in that area; playing defensively, even faceoffs I’ve felt a lot better towards the end of the year. Wherever I can play here, I’m happy.”Morgan Frost; 4/30/2022
In the current scheme, Frost is a third-line center. On a line with Cates and Tippett, he found the most consistency since Claude Giroux became a Florida Panther. Frost, similar to Scott Laughton, has thrived as a center and left-wing. His game is growing, and despite a lost season, he paced better than in 2019-2020. It makes sense to remain with Cates and Tippett; a balance of youth, neutral zone stability, and offensive zone attack assembled by Mike Yeo.
“There was that stretch there where I wasn’t scoring, maybe gripping the stick, I don’t know how long it was. My mindset was ‘if I’m not scoring, I need to find a way to still help the team and be somewhat useful while I’m out there if I’m not doing part of my job.’ So, that’s when I started going more towards finding areas to get the puck and make plays passing.”Travis Konecny; 4/30/2022
He evolved his game. Sure, 2019-2020 is still the best of his career, but he maintains a two-hundred-foot game while creating new ripples in his overall production. This season, he was snakebitten. He took the most amount of shots he ever did in an NHL season and trailed his career-high in assists by one. His shot quality was nearly on par with 2019-2020, but the result wasn’t.
“I’ll be the first to say I know I can be better. For me, my season was unacceptable, and I want to come back better next year. We want to be a playoff team. I want to be a playoff player.”Travis Konecny; 4/30/2022
“For me, coming here from Vancouver, not really know what to expect and to be welcomed in that manner; it’s something I don’t take lightly. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the fans here.”Zack MacEwen; 4/30/2022
A waiver acquisition, MacEwen became a fan favorite. He is a player who could help the Philadelphia Flyers become tougher to face with his physicality, tenacity, and willingness to go toe-to-toe with everyone. He’s the player the franchise needs to maintain. MacEwen is the latest recipient of the Gene Hart Memorial Award. Without a doubt, MacEwen deserves an extension.
“Something I want to work on during the offseason was putting those guys in better spots. I think it allowed me to create more offensively because of those plays that I was making, extending plays, and allowing guys to have more space and time to do something with the puck. Defensively, I thought I was harder to play against. Part of that was because I was playing with Risto. The physicality he brings, he kind of drags you into the fight a little bit. I credit him with helping me on that end.”Travis Sanheim; 4/30/2022
There were times throughout the season when Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen clicked. Without a doubt, Ristolainen makes a defensive pair more physical. It’s great to see that rub onto Sanheim, but defensive positioning needs to rub off on Ristolainen. Together, this summer, there needs to be a commitment to keep these two together. Earning the Barry Ashbee Trophy and the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy is evidence that Sanheim is becoming the premier left-defenseman on the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I just tried to focus on my two-way game, hopefully letting the scoring come to me. I’m definitely not happy with struggling the way I did, but I think there’s a lot to learn from this year. Playing center was a good test for me to see where I was at in that sense.”Joel Farabee; 4/30/2022
The best ability can be availability. Farabee is already a quality forward, but he showed the Philadelphia Flyers that if there is a lack of depth at center, then he could fill in. Naturally, he should play the wing. Having the awareness to work on his two-way game, making offense out of defense, should contribute to a breakout season. Getting in a good camp and finding ways to preserve his body during the offseason will go a long way in keeping Farabee healthy and available for a true breakout season.
“I need to go back this summer. Work on my quickness. I feel way better than last year. I need to push this summer to be one of the lead guys on this team.”Oskar Lindblom; 4/30/2022
Last season was his first since he returned from his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma. He says he feels much better than in 2020-2021. Lindblom continues to be one of the craftier playmakers on the roster. He ranks top ten on the team in assists, working well with Sanheim, Konecny, Ivan Provorov, and Scott Laughton. Heading into a contract year, Lindblom has to have the rebound season I predicted for this season before the complete team fallout.
“No matter what I say, you guys are going to give me your own grades. It doesn’t matter, you’re all experts in hockey, so you’re going to give me all your super experienced grades. I don’t think my opinion really matters to you guys.”Ivan Provorov; 4/30/2022
Everyone should be frustrated with the season. Nothing went as expected. I’ve penned my observations on Provorov throughout the season, including the good and the bad. Earlier this season, the microphone picked up Provorov complaining about the postgame press conference being a waste of time because he answered one question (cut from the broadcast feed.) Hopefully, this bad taste in his mouth and the praise Sanheim received lights a fire to bring back the Provorov of a few seasons ago, the version that was a top-twenty defenseman.
“I think it always helps when you have a good relationship with your goalie coach, and there’s a certain level of trust there, and you guys are on the same page. Kim and I had that.”Martin Jones; 4/30/2022
A pending free agent, Jones did meet a 90%SV for the first time since 2017-2018. On most nights, Jones played better than advertised against superior competition. A trend we’ve heard from Yeo, or even Vigneault, was that the goaltending gave this team a chance. It kept them competitive. Jones will be one of the more magnified decisions heading into next season concerning what’s next for unrestricted free agents.
“It would be an honor, but it’s not really something I’m focused on. Whether I am or not, I’m still going to be the same person, same player I am; try to lead by example, try to help the younger guys, and share the experience that I have.”Sean Couturier; 4/30/2022
Couturier will likely lead the franchise moving forward. He’s an easy pick as a future captain. Many solid choices fit the mold, but Couturier leads by excellence. A couple of seasons ago, he won the Frank J. Selke Trophy. As the younger players bloom, Couturier seems like the right choice to lead on the ice.
“I was told after a certain amount of time, I would feel better. I wasn’t really feeling better, felt kind of rushed back. Throughout the season, we played against other guys I knew had the same surgery. They all told me it takes a year to feel normal. I feel like at the end of this season I was starting to feel better.”Kevin Hayes; 4/30/2022
It’s poor to rush back Hayes, especially when he earns $7.142mil per season. There isn’t any sense in entertaining the possibility of injuring a player further. Towards the end of the season, Hayes began to find his jump. He looked healthy on the ice and finished 2021-2022 strongly.
“Going into next year, we just have to find a way to have some more grit, some more jam, some more F-you to our game on both sides of the puck in our crease, defending our goalie, and in their crease.”Cam Atkinson; 4/30/2022
Atkinson, towards the beginning of the season, spearheaded the “shoot-first” concept. It worked, but when Provorov spoke as the season progressed into the seventies in terms of games, he mentioned that there needed to be an added focus on shooting. The Philadelphia Flyers are self-aware of what they need to do. Atkinson declared that the team needs to have more of a killer instinct. It’s frustrating when the players know what needs improvement, but the execution doesn’t follow.
“I think every guy’s got to take a hard look in the mirror this summer and see what went wrong in their game individually to try and help the team, and that’s when it really comes together. These last two years, I don’t think we’ve necessairly played good hockey or been a hard hockey team to play against. That’s what we have to get back to, especially in Philly at the Wells Fargo in front of your fans.”Scott Laughton; 4/30/2022
Laughton stressed accountability; a trait that every leader needs. Not everyone held themselves accountable over the last two seasons. It led to woe-is-me energy. It’s why the Philadelphia Flyers weren’t a daunting opponent on Broad Street in 2021-2022. At the core of a winning culture, Laughton makes a lot of sense.
“I definitely felt better this year mentally from last year, but at the end of the day I still need to be a lot better.”Carter Hart; 4/30/2022
Again, Hart and Jones were solid on a poor team. Good goaltending was wasted on a lost season. If you look at where Hart was in 2020-2021, however, his 2021-2022 campaign is even more impressive. I’ve said all season that his record doesn’t reflect his true performance. The Toyota Cup winner was one of a few silver linings in an impressively bad season.
James van Riemsdyk
“I take a lot of pride in how I prepare myself to play, especially now as I get a little bit older.”James van Riemsdyk; 4/29/2022
The only skater to play every game for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2021-2022, van Riemsdyk led the team in goals scored. Following his performance against the Ottawa Senators, scoring the team-leading goal, he was asked about his commitment to staying healthy. Playing net-front on the powerplay, it only takes one awkward bounce from a puck to miss games. He makes his office net-front on the crease of the goaltender.
“It was, more or less, a multi-layered problem. It wasn’t just a one thing fix all. That was the problem, trying to figure out what was going on. It had multiple levels of what the problem was. We have a plan; everyone is very comfortable and happy with the plan. I’m excited, like I said, to be ready for training camp.”Ryan Ellis; 4/30/2022
Certainly, it is not an issue if Ellis wants to be in Philadelphia; he does. He has a plan in place with the organization to ensure he can be ready for training camp. The big news is that the problem was identified, though complicated to fix. Ellis isn’t planning on surgery. Of course, he will be tracked closely to monitor his health ahead of his second season with the Philadelphia Flyers following a first stint that lasted four games.
(Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)