4. Year Two of Tortorella
Starting a new season with a new coach always brings questions marks. How will a team, used to playing one way, respond. Most guys responded well, but there were others that didn’t. Those players are gone now.
The returning vets know what to expect from John Tortorella. They know what he wants. They’ve had a year to work in his system. They can expand and build on what they’ve learned in year one. Being familiar with your system helps to create a routine. Good routines help to build trust and comfort.
The guys know how to survive in Tortorella’s system. They know what will be expected of that. There will be no excuses or surprises in year two. Because of that, the Flyers should improve all across the board.
5. A LOT of Help
The biggest thing that can help the Flyers are those intangibles that you can’t plan on. It’s how the other teams will be doing. If a team loses a key player for a long period of time due to injuries (Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, etc), the Flyers could capitalize on that and jump ahead.
Injuries happen. Good teams can overcome them while bubble teams can’t. Columbus got hit with the double whammy of losing Jakub Voracek and Zack Werenski before Thanksgiving last year. They never recovered.
Last year the Flyers jumped out to a hot start before fading fast. Injuries were part of that. If they can get off to a hot start and continue staying, at the very least, competitive, that will help. They got really hot after Christmas just before the All-Star Break. We know this team has some fire in it. They just have to stay consistent with it. Streaks happen, but you gotta lessen the bad streaks while stoking the coals of the good ones.
The Metropolitan Division is shaping up to be super competitive again this year. The rest of the Eastern Conference isn’t far behind. The Flyers will not be able to lose close games to rival teams and expect to reach the playoffs. Instead, if the rest of the division wails on each other, Philly could have an opportunity to stay in the playoff hunt. And if the Flyers play well against teams like Carolina or New Jersey, they can’t roll over to teams like Columbus (2-2 last year). They need to beat the bad teams and play well against the good teams if they want any chance of succeeding.
It’s a longshot for Philadelphia to make the playoffs this year. The rest of the Metro is still fairly tough. Many Eastern Conference teams have beefed up as well. That’s also leaving out the fact that Boston and Tampa are still good and Florida represented the conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Most likely, Philly won’t make it. However, there is no reason they can’t claw and fight their way to almost making it. That could give the young players something to aim for. That confidence could spill over into the 2024-25 season. Likewise, a team that is on the verge of making the playoffs with a bevy on young stars that have yet to reach their prime, might finally be able to make a play for an upper-tier free agent.