In the late 1980s/early 1990s, rival fans of the Rangers used to hauntingly chant “Nineteen-Forty,” mocking the fact that the Blueshirts hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1940. Mark Messier put an end to that when he led the Rangers to the championship in 1994, ending a 54-season drought.
The Flyers just finished their 45th season since last bringing Lord Stanley’s chalice to Broad Street. Some fans are angry, some are defeated, and some pledge never to spend another nickel on a ticket.
Indignation is one thing. Apathy is poisonous. General manager Chuck Fletcher needs a big summer.
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— Ed Barkowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MVP, LVP and other awards from a lost season
The Flyers announced their awards last night before a comeback win over the Devils in Game No. 56. Their MVP was the same as ours, but that’s the only overlap. Here are some salutations and shrugs from the Inquirer’s Flyers newsletter staff.
Team MVP: He wasn’t perfect, but Sean Couturier was the Flyers’ best player on most nights.
Team LVP: Kevin Hayes. Coach Alain Vigneault hinted that Hayes was banged up when he benched him for a game on April 29. Hayes had five points in his last 20 games and was -5 before Monday’s season finale. Gotta get more from your third-highest-paid player, and he’d be the first to tell you.
Biggest surprise: None of the Flyers’ young defensemen got better. Even Ivan Provorov, who never takes off a shift much less a night, had too many misadventures. It’s going to be an interesting position to watch over the summer. Whom to protect in the expansion draft? Do Cam York and Egor Zamula get a crack at joining the roster to start next season? Will they bring in a top-2 to pair with Provorov?
Biggest disappointment: The defense in general, including the goaltending and forwards. Everybody except Lou Nolan had a hand in the Flyers’ ranking last in goals against at 3.52 per game. That number was 2.77 last year, seventh best in the league.
Most ominous harbinger: The normally cool Carter Hart broke his stick in smithereens after a 6-1 loss to Boston on Jan. 23. It was just the sixth game of the season and way out of character for the young goalie.
Worst trip: Lake Tahoe in February. Got hammered by the Bruins as Hart’s confidence took another blow. Had to play without Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Jakub Voracek and defenseman Justin Braun because of COVID-19 protocols.
Best mirage: Started 7-2-1 despite opponents’ taking 101 more shots. The ice was tilted, and eventually it caught up to the Flyers.
Worst acquisition: Erik Gustafsson. Chuck Fletcher’s only notable free agent was scratched 22 times before he was dealt for a seventh-round pick.
Best stat: The Flyers were 14-0-2 when leading after two periods. Now, about those horrendous starts ...
Worst stat: The Flyers’ .880 team save percentage was the NHL’s worst in more than 20 years, when the goalies for Tampa Bay (.876) and Atlanta (.877) staggered around in 1999-2000.
Second-worst stat: Nolan Patrick was -30 in 52 games. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the only worse ratings in team history belong to Kyle Calder (-31 in 59 games) and R.J. Umberger (-32 in 81 games). Both were in 2006-07.
Dried up Inq: Your four favorite Inquirer sports writers all projected the Flyers to make the playoffs, with Marcus Hayes (66 points), Sam Carchidi (70) and Mike Sielski (70) predicting they’d finish third in the division and Ed Barkowitz (66) penciling them in at fourth. The Flyers finished sixth with 58 points. Vegas also overrated the Flyers, putting their point total at 66.5 before the season. Hope you had the under.
Best youngster: Joel Farabee, 21, is the second-youngest player to lead the Flyers in goals, with 20 (see below). He also took a step up in leadership by occasionally defending teammates during skirmishes.
Biggest enemies: The Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad (18 points in 7 games), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (8 goals in 6 games) and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (8 goals in 8 games) feasted on the Flyers this season. All three guys had five of their goals against the meager penalty-kill units.
Best tweet by a legend: Bernie Parent’s reaction to the bundled-up Bernie Sanders meme from the inauguration being superimposed onto one of his hockey cards from the ‘70s.
Notable quote: “As far as TK, it’s like a mother or father sometimes making tough decisions with their children. It’s not that they don’t love their children; they’re trying to get them to do the right things. That is what I am doing with TK.” — Flyers coach Alain Vigneault after he scratched Travis Konecny on Jan. 30
Favorite quote: “Not too many times you score your first goal.” — Wade Allison, perhaps the most refreshing of all the Flyers youngsters
Things to know
“I don’t think anyone saw us being in this position,” captain Claude Giroux said. “It’s very frustrating and confusing. We took some steps forward [last season], and this year that wasn’t the case.”
Couturier skates away with his third consecutive team MVP award, something that hadn’t been done since Eric Lindros was in his glory years.
What will the Flyers do with Shayne Gostisbehere, who had a resurgence at the end of the season. Sam Carchidi examines the options.
Yong Kim’s photo gallery from the trip to Lake Tahoe has some spectacular shots
Giroux was in Washington still quarantined by COVID-19 when his wife tweeted that the couple was expecting their second child. He was among the Flyers players who shared how the virus affected them.
It’s gettin’ ugly between Jack Eichel and Buffalo.
Ottawa kids get creative in celebrating Tim Stutzle’s first career hat trick. If this doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, it will at least make you smile for 30 seconds.
A glimmer of hope
Players younger than 25 to lead the Flyers in goals scored in a season (ages listed are on the final day of the regular season):
21 years, 45 days: Eric Lindros, 1993-94 (44)
21 years, 74 days: Joel Farabee, 2020-21 (20)
21 years, 235 days: Bobby Clarke, 1970-71 (27)
21 years, 251 days: Rod Brind’Amour, 1991-92 (33)
22 years: Clarke, Simon Gagne, Lindros, Rick MacLeish.
23 years: Travis Konecny, Andre Lacroix, Rick Tocchet, Jake Voracek.
24 years: Jeff Carter, Clarke, Tim Kerr, Reggie Leach.
Saturday: Playoffs begin (Boston at Washington, 7:15 p.m., NBC)
May 21-June 6: IIHF World Championships (Latvia)
TBD: Draft lottery determined
July 17: Deadline for clubs to submit protection lists for expansion draft, 5 p.m.
July 21: Seattle expansion draft
July 23: NHL draft, Round 1
July 24: NHL draft, Rounds 2-7
July 28: Unrestricted/Restricted Free Agent signings permitted, noon
Best of the mailbag
Bundy/Sam, thank you for a profound article. I have shared it with my daughter who completed a 2-month rehab program and is so far doing well with her sobriety. It is a lifetime work in progress and I am so proud of her!
Without any major moves in the offseason, you have almost the same roster, with a great coaching staff. They squeezed blood out of stone last year. Right now, the well is dry. They simply lack the combo of skill, size, and snarl to compete.
Isn’t the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is the strong argument that the Flyers are the softest team in their division?
One would have thought the Flyers would be cognizant of this weakness after being roughed up and physically pushed around by the Islanders in the playoff loss to them. In the playoffs, soft teams get exposed. Other fans I speak to tend to agree. Am I off base here?
— Gil Dick via email