By Mary Cunningham
Okay, the Flyers suck.
They have 35 points, and they’re in last place in the Metro Division.
Only one team in the NHL is worse, the St. Louis Blues.
While Carter Hart has shown some promise, he’s not the answer.
Philly is third last in goals against in the entire National Hockey League.
As the Flyers endure their second four-game losing streak since Dec. 9, their offense has severely underachieved.
An attack consisting of players like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, James Van Riemsdyk, and Wayne Simmonds sounds like something that should cause opposing teams fits.
However, since Dec. 20, that combination of five players has teamed up for just 20 points. Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning has piled on 15 points in that same stretch by himself.
The team’s deficiencies also extend to their special teams. Philly bottoms out in power play, while their penalty kill hasn’t been much better. In its last 45 power play opportunities, the PP units have scored just three times.
Things are about to get worse.
To this point of the season, they have had the 12th easiest strength of schedule, according to Power Rankings Guru. From this point on, they’re slated to have the second most difficult list of opponents in the NHL. In their remaining 43 games, they play 22 against teams currently in the playoffs. So things may even get worse for the black and orange.
This season, the club has made major changes everywhere except on the ice. By canning both general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol, they have shown they want to go in a different direction. With GM Chuck Fletcher inheriting a team of players in which he has no real attachment to, he may be a little more willing to move a big name veteran than his predecessor.
On a fairly talented team that was in the playoffs just one season ago, the roster has not reacted well to major shake-ups. While it is easy to look at Philly and say goaltending is the problem, that is not the entire truth. Really, from top to bottom, it has been a very poor effort. This is a club capable of much more than being one point ahead of the NHL’s basement. But with an increasingly challenging schedule on the loom, it may be too late to claw their way out of it.