A young defenseman for the Flyers, Myers has plenty of time to grow from his uneven playoff performance.
Phil Myers is on his way to becoming a top-pair defensemen for the Flyers and in the NHL, but he’s still in the first act of a long journey and is not yet close to a finished product. The 2020 playoffs showed the talent and technique as well as the faults and failures of Myers.
Myers uneven playoffs was frustrating to watch. The mixture of good and bad play offsetting each other. At times, Myers looked like a dominating player on the blueline, and then would do something so egregious and thoughtless it seemed like it was a completely different player. Sadly these swings negatively impacted the team’s efforts and the overall rating for Myers.
By the numbers, Myers had a good playoffs. Paired almost exclusively with Travis Sanheim, he allowed only 10 even strength goals against, while in the same period he racked up 12 goals for, three of them coming from his own stick. His four points placed him third among the team’s defensemen.
Myers advanced metrics were not stellar in a vacuum, but when compared to his peers they looked much better. Myers had the highest corsi percentage of the regular defensemen at just over 48 percent. There was a lot to like, especially when he was out of his defensive zone. Myers made small plays that led to sustained pressure and huge plays in high pressure situations, such as scoring overtime goals.
Unfortunately, for all the good that he did, Myers would undermine the team in the defensive end of the rink. The most devastating item was Myers’ decisions with the puck. Myers committed numerous turnovers that led to high danger chances and four goals against. These numbers should have been far worse, but Myers was often bailed out by Hart and Sanheim.
Most maddening, many of the turnovers were unforced, born of bad decisions or bad execution, meaning they were completely of Myers own doing and absolutely avoidable. The senseless nature of the turnovers made the goals allowed that much more painful and would often negate and outweigh an otherwise strong efforts.
It is the accumulation of brainless plays that lose series, and in my estimation, Myers committed enough of them on his own to be one of the primary reasons the team could not overcome the Islanders.
Myers also struggled mightily with the Islanders’ forechecking efforts. The Flyers had played a very patient game all season and into the playoffs where the team would slowly and carefully ease their way out from their defensive zone. It was unrushed, and meticulous, much like a chess match where the Flyers were able to counter any type of coverage they encountered. The Islanders turned the chess match into a mugging. As the series continued, the patience of the Flyers turned into a negative instead of a positive.
The Islanders effort was consistent and systemic, it was a strategy. While it is tempting to heap fault solely on Myers, the coaching staff must shoulder the majority of the blame. There was little, if any, alteration to the chess match pace Myers was using and it predictably ended in a mugging. The coaches needed to help Myers address the pressure and it never seemed to happen.
The coaching staff’s in ability to give Myers alternatives or adjustments cost the team and made Myers look especially bad. You don’t play chess while being mugged.
PHIL MYERSD, Philadelphia Flyers
Myers played a lot of really good minutes for the team, but also committed silly mistakes that led to goals. Myers did not get as much help from the coaches as he needed and it showed. His play was a net positive, but the mistakes severely diminished all the excellent work he put in. It had all the flavor of a Desean Jackson punt return where he spikes the ball too early, taking what was excellent and turning it into a negative.
Had Myers limited the needless turnovers his grade would much higher and the Flyers could have had a better chance at winning the series.