Philadelphia Flyers: A Season on the Brink

Wayne Simmonds & Brayden Schenn have been two of the Flyers strongest players so far this season.The Philadelphia Flyers have dug themselves a bit of a hole early on in this abbreviated NHL season. Although certainly Saturday’s win clearly is better than a loss to a team which most of us believe has inferior talent, the game itself contained a lot of what has been wrong with the Flyers this season. Along with some of the pleasant surprises we have seen in the 1st 20 games of the year here are some of the positives from Saturday’s victory.

The Flyers are getting excellent production from three players who before the season would not have been considered among their top 3 offensive threats. The trade of Mike Richards to the Kings cannot be criticized by any objective fan. Both Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn were outstanding, continuing a recent trend. Simmonds in particular has shown the toughness which Flyers fans love but which is also integral to any NHL team’s success  However, the Flyers’ best offensive player in recent games has been Jakub Voracek. It is not a stretch to say that if there were an All Star game this season Voracek would be the one Flyer who would most deserve to be on the East team. It wasn’t surprising when after typing those last few sentences I checked on who were the 3 stars of Saturday’s game it turned out they were Schenn, Voracek and Simmonds.

Unfortunately the 1st half of the Jets game also reflected some disturbing trends. As against Pittsburgh and Florida earlier in the week the Flyers came out sluggish and flat, falling behind once again. This continued with a poor start to the 2nd period against the Jets. In addition, the defense continued to leave too many opponents open in the offensive zone resulting in good scoring chances for the Jets. Sure it would have been nice to get Shea Weber or Ryan Suter but that does not excuse the continuing defensive problems the Flyers have had.

As of the time I am writing this the Flyers are 8th in the East. Of course that is deceiving as they have played more games than any other team in the league. Before the season I thought that it would be a struggle to make the playoffs. Nothing that has transpired has changed my opinion. This is truly a season which will in all probability remain on the brink until the last full week of April. There is only one goal though-finish 8th or better. If a team just sneaks into the playoffs all bets can then be off. For example look at the Kings last season and the Flyers in 2010. Had Saturday’s game been a loss I am sure there would be calls to fire the coach and/or make a big trade.

However, this is not November 2009 when there was still over 50 games in which to turn things around. As for a trade again look at the goal-just finish 8th. It is not worth trading a couple of good young players for an established star when that won’t guarantee a playoff berth and may also weaken the team in the future.

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Chuck Reynolds

Chuck has followed PSU football and Philly sports since coming to Philly for law school in the late summer of 1981. In fact he went to his 1st live Philly sports event-a Phillies game at the Vet against Cincinnati-before attending any law school classes. Chuck currently practices civil trial law in New Jersey which unfortunately results in a lot of contact with New York sports fans. You can follow Chuck on Twitter @SportsChatChuck, a handle invented by his wife Mary Kay, a PSU alum and diehard Phillies fan.