FLYERS HAVE PRIMO GOALIE, TOP COACH: CAN THEY TURN THE CORNER?

By Emily Palladinetti

It’s been nine years since the Flyers were in the thick of the postseason with coach Peter Laviolette leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Since that magical run when the Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to the Boston Bruins in the second round, the team hasn’t even come close to that success.

Although this Flyers season started similarly to the 2009-2010 when Peter Laviolette was hired 25 games in, the team this year was unable to capitalize off of the momentum of a coaching change. Head coach Dave Hakstol was relieved of his duties 31 games into the season after the team had a record of 12-15-4. Interim head coach Scott Gordon took over and helped lead the team to a 25-22-4 record under his coaching. They finished just short of the playoffs something that has become consistent with team since their cup run.

After back to back loses in the Conference Semifinals in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons the Flyers have either missed the playoffs entirely or lost in the first round.

This season many fans expected the Flyers to finish much lower in the standings, however the stellar play of rookie goaltender Carter Hart helped ensure that would not happen. The team finished sixth in the Metropolitan division with a 37-37-8 record.

Much of the team’s success was centred around an eight-game win streak from January 14 to February 4. But other than that, the Flyers had a hard time winning games consistently and ultimately were eliminated from playoff contention on March 30 with a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

They then went on to lose the last four games of the season. The Flyers inability to win games could absolutely be attributed to the fact they had eight different goalies in net this season. The team ranked a dismal 29th of 31 teams for goals against with 281.

The coaching staff and front office underwent changes, and whether that contributed to the on-ice play is something we simply will never know.

The trend among many of the Flyers big guns was either a significant drop in their point total, or no improvement from the previous season. The dip in productivity certainly did not help to bail out the goalies who were clearly struggling.

All-Star center Claude Giroux’s point total saw a significant drop from last year when he notched 102. This season the captain tallied 22 goals, 63 assists–for 85 points and a +9 rating. While playing in two less games Sean Couturier managed to match his point total of 76 from the previous season with 33 goals, 43 assists, and a +2 rating.

Although Jakub Voracek played in four fewer games than he did the previous he saw a downtick in his productivity by 19 points.

Fans were eager for James van Riemsdyk to return to Philly to bring some much-needed offense with him. Unfortunately, due to injuries van Riemsdyk only played 66 games this season. Many began to question if the offseason acquisition was worth it when he was failing to produce what was expected of him, he finished the season with 27 goals and 21 assists for 48 points.

On the blue line Shayne Gostisbehere played 78 games this season just like the previous season but saw a dramatic drop in his point total from 65 in 2017-18 to 37 this season with just 9 goals, 28 assists, and a -20 rating.

Ivan Provorov played his third full season with the Flyers and after a breakout sophomore season with 41 points–17 goals, 24 assists– he saw his lowest point total since entering the league of 7 goals, 19 assists for 26 points, and a -16 rating.

Productivity amongst the key players on the team is off course, a contributing factor to the disappointing season. However, with such a tumultuous season in regard to the front office as well as goaltending inconsistency, it’s hard to imagine any team having success. The Flyers no doubt have

On April 15 the Flyers organization took the necessary steps to try and steer the organization back on track naming Alain Vigneault the 21st head coach in franchise history.

Vigneault has quite the resume, having coached more than 1,200 regular season games with a career win percentage of .588. He has also coached over 139 Stanley Cup Playoff Games and won the Jack Adams Award for NHL Coach of the Year in 2006-07 and was nominated for the award three additional times.

Vigneault has produced eight 100-point seasons, three of which won the President’s trophy, signifying the regular season champion, three times: 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks (54-19-9, 117 pts), 2011-12 Vancouver Canucks (51-22-9, 111 pts), 2014-15 New York Rangers (53-22-7, 113 pts). His teams have won seven division championships and have made the playoffs 11 times, advancing past the first round on eight of those occasions.

The Flyers completed their coaching staff with the additions of Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo as assistant coaches, both former head coaches in the NHL. The team also announced that Ian Laperriere will return next season as an assistant, Kim Dillabaugh as goalie coach, and Adam Patterson as video.

Therrien the former head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins coached 814 regular season games. He will replace Ian Laperriere and run the power play which finished at 17.1%, tied for 22nd in the league this year. Yeo former head coach of the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues has coached 482 regular season games. His hiring was less surprising considering GM Chuck Fletcher was the person to start and end his career as head coach in Minnesota. Yeo is reportedly going to run the penalty kill which ranked 26th in the league at 78.5% this past season.

 

 

 

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