Twenty (Not So) Bold Flyers Predictions: Year in Review

My Annual Flyers Predictions And Invitation for Fun and Mockery, 60 Days Late.

Every year, on July 20th, I come up with predictions about the Flyers and they’re upcoming season.  Some are goofy, some are serious, some are just wrong….so, very, very wrong, like Jori Lehtera leading the KHL in scoring.  The “Year of COVID” continues.

I try to be topical with my predictions, but I had two huge misses last season. First,  Oskar Lindblom’s cancer. This story was the low and the high of the season. The impact on the team could not be overstated. Oscar is back and looked pretty good in his two games back, for a guy who has not played in half a year and just beat cancer.

The second storyline was Covid-19. I did not see this coming, I am not sure any of us did.  Maybe we should have?  Not in the details, like a bowl of bad bat soup, set the world on tilt, but in a more general sense of what is going on in the world.  Hopefully, lessons were learned and we can avoid this type of crazy in 2021.  I have never been happier for the calendar to flip.

Looking back, was interesting to see how I went after the question of playoffs.  It was buried in the Hayes prediction, played rather than an outright prediction.  Hart and Hayes were the keys to this great season.

Review of last Season!!!

2017 Season 6-10-4

2018 Season 12-8

2019 Season 14-6…Covid Adjusted (16-4)  Cancer, COVID Adjusted (17-3) THE KID IS HOT

Total 32-24-4 56%

 

Hartman will not play 50 games for the Flyers (WIN!)

It was gimme, I had predicted it at the end of last season, and the trade ensured it.

The Triple Lindy Parlay  (LOSS)

You won’t hate Chuck Fletcher completely (WIN)

UNTIL Chuck trades Ghost. And you now hate him (Loss)

BECAUSE….  He did not get a good return on Ghost (Loss)

I don’t like Fletch, I worry about the farm system and development. I worry about his evaluation of players and his ability to determine their worth. I worry about him getting fleeced in every trade he makes.  I worry about his need for RHD from Minnesota.  Fletch has a history of such things.  That said, he seems to have a great idea of how the pieces he likes fit together.  Fletch should get the credit for the vision, and how well the team pulled together. Now, even I don’t completely hate him.

He did not trade Ghost so he can’t be fleeced, but I have a feeling we might see this theme again. One out of three.  Stay tuned.

The Flyers PK will be better. (WIN)

The Flyers have gone from 29th to 26th to 11th this past season.  If you look at the numbers Hayes and Couturier lead all forwards in PK minutes by a large number, Better still Giroux only had 66 minutes on the PK, placing him right behind Tyler Pitlick!

Was it the addition of Hayes and Pitlick, the development of Laughton?  Was it the fact that Lappy is no longer the coach.  Was it Vigneault?  In any case, a great improvement took a weakness and turned it into a strength.

The Flyers PP will be better.  (WIN)

Remember when coach Knob was going to be the savior to fix the PP and then take Hak’s place in the big chair.  I never thought that, but many of us did. Therrien and the team jumped from 26th to 14th this season.  And that was after a rough first few months.  Kudos to coaches and to JVR.  His PP play has been the best aspect of his play this season and is a key difference.

Vigneault will make this team look like the Rangers, not the Canucks. (Loss)

While it was not at video game levels, like the Canucks were, the Flyers were more like them than the Rangers teams that Vigneault coached. The Flyers were 7th in scoring, 4th in differential, and 8th in goal against. Vigneault’s Ranger teams could not score but did not give up much in their own end. With this style, I think the Flyers had more blowout wins, which allowed them to rest the top guys and use the depth lines more.

Frost and Farabee do not start with the big club out of camp. (WIN)

Neither Frost nor Farabee made the roster for opening night.  Farabee eventually became a key contributor to the team. Frost is still looking to break into the lineup on a regular basis.

TK Will Set New Career High in Goals (LOSS)

This is the first of the COVID related casualties to my predictions. Konecny tied his career-high mark in goals and likely would have surpassed it if the season had continued.  Even with the stoppage, he set a new high in points and looked really dangerous all season long.

Scott Laughton Will Set New Career High in points (LOSS)

Between Laughton’s injury and the season interruption, my prediction was derailed, but this was Laughton’s finest season as a pro.  In his abbreviated effort, he set a new high in goals.  I am very pleased that Laughon’s game is really coming together. We have watched him go from a 4c to a plus 3c.  I could not be happier for him.  I hope there is a Couturier like jump next year!

Nolan Patrick Regresses Initially and Plays less than Seventy games (WIN)

I really wanted to be wrong on this, but after two seasons I was pretty sure I knew what we would get. His unfortunate migraine disorder derailed his entire season. It may also explain the level of play over the last year.  If he was only able to give 70% and was still an NHL low-end 3c, that could bode well for when he is healthy.

Oskar Lindblom Will Score at Least 20 Goals (LOSS)

Cancer was what ultimately robbed this one and at poor Lindblom’s expense. With 11 goals in 30 games, he was pacing to streak far beyond 20 goals. I think he may be a top-line winger, let us hope he heals up and can get back to hockey!

Phillipe Myers will score less than 10 goals and have under 35 points (WIN)

This was practically a gimme as the way the season turned out.  Despite low point numbers, Myers was impressive to watch on both ends of the ice and I think this kid may be a number one defenseman in a few years.

The fourth line will be a mess for the first half of the season (WIN)

Rubstov – 3 games in December

Twarnyski – 15 Games through December

Kase  – 5 Games through December

Chris Stewart  – 15 games through December

Andy Andreoff  – 12 Games through December

Voro  – 17 games through December

Bunnaman  – 4 Games through December

NAK  – 8 Games through December

This does not include the down line changes that occurred when Frost or Farabee were brought into the lineup.  One could say that the Flyers’ play picked up once they started to get useful minutes from the fourth line.

.G will have a down year, does not clear 70 points (WIN)

If COVID created a headwind in the Laughton and Konecny predictions, it aided me in my Giroux prediction. He has been known to pick up 25 points in 10 games when he gets going, and the way the Flyers power play was humming, he may have gotten supernova hot.  But the fact remains he had 53 points in 69 games, less than a point a game.  He would have needed over a point a game over the remaining schedule to make it to seventy.  But I don’t think I care.  His TOI was down 2:30 minutes a game and he was dangerous when he was out there.  I like the concept of keeping Giroux fresh and taking some of the burdens off of him.

Hagg will not be the 7th defensemen (WIN)

Coaches would rather be outshot than outscored.  That is why Hagg was not the 7th defenseman. He played the 6th most games for defensemen. Hagg did a decent job. He played the Justin Braun role better than Justin Braun. He also saw more time in the playoffs then Gostisbehere.

It is still a mystery that a certain part of the fan base hates this guy with as much as they do. It is irrational, shouldn’t we want him to do well as part as the team doing well overall?  See the late-season win streak.  He does his job adequately at a reasonable price.  Championship teams need players like that.

Players starting the season with less than 80 NHL games experience will play more than 130 games this season (WIN)

Here is the game count of young players

Farabee – 52

Frost – 20

Nak – 36

Myers – 50

Rubtsov – 4

Hart – 43

Bunnaman – 21

Twarynski – 15

Kase – 6

Vorobyov – 20

Morin – 1

Friedman – 6

Lyon – 3

I included the goalies in the count but did not mean to include them in the calculation, as Hart I would have expected to play 40 to 60 games.  In all players with under 80 games of NHL experience played 277 games. Without the goalies’ games, they played 231 games. Farabee, 52, and NAK, 36, led the forwards and Myers led the defense with 50. Out of a possible 1252 man games played this season (18*69) their 231 games accounted for 18.6% of possible dress slots.  The future looks bright and the future is now.

The Flyers Make the Playoffs (WIN)

The boys really put it together and finished in the top four of the conference.  If we look for reasons, the limited number of goalies, Kevin Hayes play, and his own roster impacts and coach Vigneault.

The Flyers will play less than 5 goalies this season (WIN)

Probably a gimme with any other team, however; last season we played 8 keepers, and this is the Flyers after all.

New Leadership and Jake Traded or left Unprotected in Expansion (LOSS)

Jake did not get traded, and given how well he played this season I think this carry over prediction is probably going to be wrong.  In 2019 I would have dared an expansion team to take Jake and his cap hit.  Now I think that if Jake is left unprotected he would be scooped up.  I think the Flyers get creative and protect him.

Kevin Hayes Will Be the Key to the Flyers Season. And he scores 20 goals (WIN)

Sometimes you hit it right on the nose, and I nailed this one.  First the easy part, Hayes scored 23 goals this season. Past that my prediction was that Hayes needed to fill the 3c role that was such a mess with Nolan Patrick playing it last season. Hayes did this, and in fact, was able to take the 2c role and finished second on the team with his 23 goals.  Hayes played as a plus 2c and it could be argued he was a low end 1c as Hayes finished 31st in goals for centers without the benefit of massive PP time and sucking down a ton of minutes on the PK.

Hayes playing the 2C allowed Laughton to take the 3C, as a plus 3C.  It allowed Giroux to give up some of the hard PK minutes.  Everything I hoped Hayes would do, he did, and did it better than I thought he would. Kudos to Fletcher for signing him