“The Eliminated” is a series that looks at a team that has missed out on the playoffs or has lost in them and looks at why they lost and what their future looks like. This is one of the more unexpected teams to be in a playoff contention elimination article. The fact is though, the Philadelphia Flyers have done it to themselves.
Overall, the expectations Philadelphia had this year have been shattered in all the wrong ways. The Flyers went from Metro Division winners in 2020 to completely missing the playoffs in 2021. This is insanely disappointing for Flyers fans considering the team should have been competing for the division title. So what led to the utter failure that was the shortened 2021 season for the Flyers?
Philadelphia Flyers failure #1: Defense
This defense was a colossal mess during this season. In fact, it has been nothing short of a total disaster. Leaving players open in front of the net is not a recipe for success. Needless to say, the saying defense wins championships did not ring home with the Philadelphia Flyers this season. It needs to be a priority for them in the future if they plan to go far. Like any team, they can fix this issue with the draft, trading, or free agency.
Dougie Hamilton is a big name on defense that is a free agent this off-season. The question for the team then will be whether they can get him or not. They could also attempt to go for the depth defensive core forming a decent set overall rather than going for a couple of stars to pair on the first line. It is all down to what they decide, but the status quo is unacceptable. No matter how they address it, it needs to be done first. The second issue may be able to solve itself, especially if there is better defensive play.
Philadelphia Flyers Failure #2: Goaltending
From up-and-coming goalie playing well and potential Vezina candidate to a washed-up mess is certainly a turnaround…just in the wrong direction. This is of course Carter Hart, who was the Philadelphia Flyers answer in net for the past couple of seasons, but this year hasn’t even been of legitimate goaltending caliber. The question does remain though, how much of this is his fault, and how much is the awful play of the defense. A great way to find out is to compare him with the backup goaltender Brian Elliott.
What happens when one measures them up? Well, all three goaltenders that have played for the Flyers this year have had a save percentage of under .900 and are almost all at 3.00 goals-against average or above. In other words, all the goaltenders have sucked statistically. Elliott does have a winning record though which is a positive note. Honestly, this could point to the defense even more considering the starting two goaltenders the Flyers are running with.
The future for this organization is actually extremely bright. In fact, if done right and with the right set of circumstances, the Flyers could be contenders again next season. In other words, this year could be the opposite of a one-year wonder. They should have been a Stanley Cup contender this year and could resume that soon to come.
Once again, the defense needs to be the top priority. The Flyers season was a wreck, but their future is not. The Buffalo Sabres cannot say the same as was covered in their eliminated article. In addition, the Flyers division could see a bit of a shake-up next year if the New York Rangers take hold and the Boston Bruins fall off, but that remains to be seen.
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