Opinion: Some Flyers therapy after a baffling season

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with teammates after the Capitals won an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Alright, everyone, circle up; this is a safe environment to say how we really feel at the end of another season for the Philadelphia Flyers. After sleeping on my emotions, I have come to the following conclusion:

The Flyers let me down

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen lays on the ice past Travis Sanheim (6) after giving up a goal to Boston Bruins’ Charlie Coyle during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

I know it’s a bit extreme to write 12 hours after a team with virtually no expectations when the season started played a meaningful game 82, in which they had a puncher’s chance at the playoffs.

I don’t care.

Was the ride fun? For the most part, yes. The Flyers shocked us by getting out to a pretty hot start and kept it rolling all the way up to March 23, culminating with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, where they were firmly in the driver’s seat for a spot in the playoffs.

Flyers' Travis Konecny
Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Konecny reacts after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

They showed they could hang with the big dogs. They drug tough teams out to deep waters and withstood everything their opponents had. Then all hell broke loose, and they lost eight straight, ultimately crushing their chances at their first playoff berth since the Covid bubble.

Now, if you told me back in October how the Flyers season would end, hardly missing the playoffs and overcoming countless injuries, losing their franchise goaltender, the Cutter Gauthier situation, etc. I would have considered the season a success.

But it’s not that simple. The Flyers weren’t a good enough team down the line, and it showed during the eight-game losing streak. If they found a way to beat the Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks, or the Canadiens, it would be a different story. If John Tortorella plays his best players in the OT losses to the Rangers and Islanders the story could have been different.

Flyers' John Tortorella
Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella, left, yells at referee Brad Meier (34) after being kicked out the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

But here we are, again, on the outside looking in, having squandered an opportunity to make the playoffs in a season where no one expected them to be as good as they were. I’m not saying the Flyers didn’t try or that the coach lost the locker room or any of that stuff.

I believe in my heart of hearts the Flyers gave it their all, and as a team, they were better than the sum of their parts separately. They overachieved and could have given this city something cool but ultimately fell short at the end. And I’m sure the team feels the same way I do – they know they had a golden opportunity and let it slip through their fingers.

Flyers' Felix Sandstrom
Florida Panthers’ Vladimir Tarasenko, left, skates to the bench after scoring a goal past Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

And frankly, that sucks. I won’t sit here and do the moral victory thing. Me, personally, I can’t do it. And I’m not saying you, the reader, should or shouldn’t. You’re entitled to feel how you want, but for me, this team failed at the end where it mattered the most, and that, to me, is disappointing.

It would be unfair to call this season a failure because it wasn’t – there is a ton to build on, and the expectations for next year should be high. Playoffs or bust, if you’re asking me in mid-April after the team hardly missed the cut, the wound is still fresh, and the offseason hasn’t yet begun.

But that’s a story for another time. For now, I end my therapy session with this statement followed by a question: I’m not quite ready to find the silver lining in the clouds; this season left a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t be alone in this, can I?