The Flyers, have been having a rough time with their defensive breakdowns. Currently out of a playoff spot, many are hoping that they will make a move for a power defenseman to jump into the top pairing. Many thought that Phil Myers would’ve stepped up to the plate after showing promise in the 2019-20 season.
However, he has now been a healthy scratch for the second time in the last eight games and no longer has the top pair role with Ivan Provorov.
Having lost top-pair defenseman Matt Niskanen to retirement, Myers was an obvious choice to play opposite Provorov and take on top line responsibilities. Moving him to the top line, his play was expected to compliment Provorov’s and really help the Flyers get the strength they need on the blue line.
That did not happen as expected and he has since been moved to the second line. The 6’5 skater definitely has the size to be a tough player and I think that was ultimately what head coach Alain Vigneault thought he would bring to the defensive line.
The Flyers were just four games into the season when Myers sustained a rib injury during a game against the Sabres. It didn’t take long, though, for him to return to the lineup and was quick to get three assists in eight games. In total, Myers only has 5 points this season, all of which are assists. Last season in 50 games, he had 16 points, 4 goals and 12 assists.
While his stats might not be too off track, it is clear that his playing is. Alain Vigneault commented on Myers’ play when he decided to bench him instead of Erik Gustafsson. Saying he was not meeting the team’s expectations, especially in areas that he was told he needed to improve on multiple times.
It is clear that Myers has the potential, that’s not the problem. The problem is that he isn’t capitalizing on his size and needs to work on being the first one on the puck and take a hit. It’s obvious that everyone was expecting more from him this season and the coaching staff are making it loud and clear with him being a healthy scratch, not once, but twice. Myers has been good on the blue line but he is lacking the consistency that the Flyers defense needs right now.
Although he is still young and has room to improve, we have seen from his skating ability and from some of his plays that he can be a powerful defenseman and penalty killer.
I hope to eventually see Myers find his place (maybe back in the top with Provorov?) and start to use his body to his advantage to become a power packing d-man. He is still a heck of a defenseman, but like a lot of the Flyers defense, has a ways to go. From a Myers to a fellow Myers, I can’t wait to see him find his groove and really start being a key player for the Flyers.