After a disappointing loss to the New York Islanders in game seven of round two, many Flyers fans immediately shifted their focus to next year. Now that next year is here and we’re about halfway through the season with Philadelphia sitting at 5th place in the division, it’s time to start questioning if we expected too much from this team.
Last year was the first time the team had won a playoff series since 2012, so, naturally, every fan got hyped just to even make the second round. Thus, after the game seven loss, fans immediately started to think of 2021 with hope.
A lot of fans, not just in Philly, thought the Flyers were going to be Stanley Cup contenders this season. They really only lost two players in the offseason, Tyler Pitlick, and Matt Niskanen.
The loss of Matt Niskanen obviously hurt and many people blame Niskanen for the Flyers’ pathetic defense this season. They are currently allowing the second-most goals per game at 3.55. Look, Hart has been a problem, and we’ll talk more about that later, but the defense just looks lost.
Overall, multiple young defensemen are having down years, something fans didn’t expect when they thought it was Stanley Cup or bust at the beginning of the year.
Another Flyer having a down year is goaltender Carter Hart. He has a .875 save percentage this year compared to his .914 save percentage last year.
During the playoffs, it routinely seemed like Hart bailed Philly out with big save after big save. Rightfully so, fans got even more excited. This team hasn’t had a great goalie since Ron Hextall and now he’s working with the enemy.
Fans certainly overhyped this team, not just because they were a really good group, but because outside media told them they were a great group. If Philadelphia doesn’t make the playoffs this year, it will continue their weird streak of missing the playoffs and then making it the year after. It’s time to start playing for something more than points.
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The downfall began early last month when the team started having issues with COVID-19. Including their game against the Bruins at Lake Tahoe, the Flyers have gone 7-8 since their games were delayed. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders have rattled off a huge winning streak.
The Flyers can beat anyone in this division, but when will it start to happen?
Entering the trade deadline, you’ll start to see players playing harder, so that could make a difference. However, the real difference is going to be whatever Chuck Fletcher decides to do. It’s on Fletcher to bring the Flyers help on defense and make some moves that can light a spark.
Despite the struggles, Flyers fans should keep their expectations high. Why?
Because that’s what will force the players, coaches, front office, and even Gritty to be better than they were the day before.