Lack of an Elite Player May Be Key to Flyers Success

Travis Konecny is a star player, but he has not reached the level of elite status. For the Flyers, that is okay for now.
Travis Konecny is a star player, but he has not reached the level of elite status. For the Flyers, that is okay for now. / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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The Flyers, barring a crazy collapse, are most likely playoff-bound. If they keep playing the way they have been, they should be able to command a respectable third through sixth spot. After that, it depends on who they will face off against to know how far they will go.

Their rise is a fairly surprising one. They weren't expected to be here. Many 'experts' expected them to be at the bottom of the division, if not the NHL. Still, this team has been competitive since day one. Interestingly enough, if you look at this team, there is a distinct lack of star power.

Sure, Sean Couturier is a good player. Travis Konecny is the scoring leader of this team. Cam Atkinson is older but a wily veteran. Owen Tippett is a rising star. Many of them are on pace to have career years, statistically speaking. But are they stars? Let's look at the numbers.

Konecny leads the Flyers with 54 points, over half of NHL-leading Nikita Kucherov and his 94 points. That would have him tied for 21st in the league. Likewise, Konecny's team-leading 27 goals are tied for 11th. His 27 assists place him at 24th. Keep in mind, the way I am counting this, if two or more players have the same number of goals, points, or assists, I'm counting that as one place.

Now, all of this isn't to trash on Konecny. Instead, it is to prove a point. Auston Matthews, who scored two hat tricks last week, leads the NHL with 51 goals. He is a scoring machine. And yet, Toronto is just three points ahead of Philadelphia. The Leafs have been inconsistent all year. The trick is that if you can stop Matthews, you stop the Leafs. And we all know is that Toronto is likely to fall apart somewhere early in the playoffs. It's a spring tradition like Spring Break, Easter Egg Hunts, and migrating birds.

Toronto has Matthews. Edmonton has Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Washington has Alexander Ovechkin. If you stop those guys, you win. Or, as with the case of Edmonton, you let those guys score but nobody else.

The Flyers could be a dangerous opponent come playoff time. Who do you guard against? You would load up your best players against Nathan McKinnon or David Pastrňák. You try to shut those guys down and limit what they can do. What do you do with Philly? Who do you focus all of your attention on? There isn't anyone in particular.

Yes, of course, you would try to contain Konency. However, this Flyers team is deep. They are not a deep team like Boston. However, just about any line John Tortorella throws at you can score. Six players have more than 10 goals. Konecny and Tippett have over 20. Joel Farabee is just one goal shy of 10. Ten players have at least 20 points. While their power play has been stagnant for most of the season, this team leads the NHL in shorthanded goals.

I think I can speak for every single Flyers fan out there when I say I wish this team had a bona fide McDavid, Matthews, or Pastrňák. But fun fact, none of those guys have their name etched on the Stanley Cup yet. Maybe the fact that the Flyers don't have a legit superstar is what helps make them a good team. Because with this team, it's not about the player, it's about the whole team. If Tortorella has his way, he could carry this team through the rest of this season and beyond.