Flyers 2023 Not So Bold Predictions: Year in Review

Oct 13, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella during Opening Night ceremonies against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 13, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella during Opening Night ceremonies against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3

The Flyers were full of surprises this season even if the end result got them right where most people predicited: out of the playoffs. While not everything went to script, many things that seemed like certainties failed to materialize, which is much different from the more recent vintages of Flyers teams. What was most interesting was predictions that were Tortorella related, who is thought of as kind of a wild card, came to pass. It seems we can count on Torts being Torts. On ice performance is tough (but fun) to predict, so variances there are to be expected.

Where I was most wrong was in the front office. I pride myself on having a decent understanding of how GMs operate, their thought process and how various ownership structures can and do impact decision making.  This years results has me wondering if I am really bad at what I do, or if the Flyers are. The proof is in the pudding and the results are in for another year of  repant speculatation, pride and prejudice, Enjoy!

2021: 9 – 11 (45%)     2022: 14 – 6  (70%)     2023: 10-9-1 (52.5%)       Total :65-50-5  56.25%

Kevin Hayes to be First Victim of a Tortorella Public Call Out (PUSH)

Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny were both benched in October. While Tortorella did a pretty good job of starving the media of comments, this was a very public benching. He then benched Hayes in December and scratched him from the lineup the next night. Sitting a player for a period, the team’s leading scorer, sends a public message, and perhaps more than some verbal sparring in the media. But the argument could be made that the benchings were something else. In either case fetching a sixth round pick for the team’s second leading scorer is a pretty good indication that it did not work out.

Flyers Surpass 61 points (Win)

No Ellis, No Atkinson, No Couturier, No problem! The Flyers beat last season’s point total by 14, ending the season with 75 points.  Tortorella can push bad teams into the mediocre category for sure and that is just what he did. There are a lot of deficiencies that can be covered up with effort and the team played hard for Torts.

Flyers Miss Playoffs (Win)

No Ellis, No Atkinson, No Couturier, No Playoffs.  There is no guarantee that even with all of these players healthy the Flyers would have qualified for a playoff spot, but the injuries surely did not help.  Last summer the Flyers were hemming and hawing on return dates for Atkinson and Couturier, with the timeline getting longer with each stutter made to the media.  The team had basically gone radio silent on Ellis’ status, which we now know is a terrible sign. Keep this in mind as the season grows closer while looking at the frequency of updates regarding Couturier and Atkinson, no news seems to be bad news where Flyers injuries are concerend.

Powerplay Improves (Win)

Only the Flyers could take a sure thing and make me sweat. I am lucky there was not an expansion team this year. The team finished dead last, again, with the man advantage. It was their first season in over a decade without Giroux running things from the half boards, but it is statiscally improbable that they would this bad twice in a row. The Flyers finished at 15.56%, a significant improvement from the 12.55% the previous season even if they were still the league’s worst unit.

Penalty Kill Improves (Loss)

The Flyers finished 26th in the league in penalty killing, just like in 2022, killing penalties at a 74.68% rate. In 2022, the Flyers killed at a 75.74% rate.  This was an area I thought Tortorella could turn around immediately because effort can negate talent while short handed. Perhaps the loss of Atkinson and Couturier decimated the PK to the point of ineffectiveness. This result is a surprising development on a Tortorella coached team.

PIM Increase (Win)

Under Alain Vigneault, the Flyers adopted a passive disposition. That was probably a conscious decision given the Flyers’ penalty killing woes under that regime. The team seemed to want to actively avoid the box at the cost of pride, injury or anything else.    The Flyers aggression level was tucked solidly between asleep and comatose. This was not going to work on a Tortorella coached team. Ask Kevin Hayes.

Rather than showing the Jason Kelce “Hungry dogs run faster” speech on loop to fire up the troops, the Flyers signed Nicolas Deslauriers!  For four years!!!   The Flyers spent 10.4  minutes a game in the sin bin, up from 9 the season before. Deslauriers tallied a new career high with 136 PIM, that is an average of 1.7 PIM a game.