By: Will Cunningham
The Philadelphia Flyers are a strange team that I don’t know what to make of. They have young, promising talents that can lead a team deep into the playoffs, but they also struggle with consistency and competing on a consistent basis. If I were to describe them with an analogy, I would compare them to Zime. They feature a fun atmosphere with some quality products on the ice, yet they always leave a desire in fans for more.
The Flyers came into this season initially with a rather gloomy outlook. After Stanley Cup ambitions were high in 2020, they have missed the playoffs each of the past two years. This past season saw the worst of it, as the Flyers suffered multiple 10 game losing streaks en route to the third worst record in the NHL.
To add insult to injury, longtime captain Claude Giroux was traded in the middle of the season to seemingly set a rebuild into place. That’s on top of handing hefty deals to Sean Couturier, who is now injured, and Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s been quite ineffective during his time in Philadelphia.
On top of that, the Flyers made a head coaching change to shake things up. They are now led by John Tortorella, who most recently coached the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets, both division rivals of the Flyers. He led them to a combined eight playoff appearances in the span of 13 years, yet never made it to a Stanley Cup with them. Despite this, the Flyers hired him for his regular season success history in the hopes of returning to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Surprisingly enough, the Flyers have not continued this trend so far this season, as they hold a 4-2-0 record through their first six games of action. This is due to a combination of the emergence of young talents and the resurgence of older players.
For the youth, right wing Travis Konecny has returned to dominant form, scoring four goals to aid the Flyers’ attack. Fellow defender Ivan Provorov has proven to be an excellent and consistent playmaker, already assisting five Flyers tallies to start the year. As for the veterans, James van Riemsdyk scored two goals on the man-advantage, while center Kevin Hayes added a goal along with a whopping seven assists through those six games.
In net sits fan-favorite Carter Hart, who’s now entering the second year of a three-year extension he signed in the light of him being dubbed as the Flyers goalie of the future. In his fifth year as a pro, Hart has been playing shutdown hockey, securing wins each of his four starts, as well as stopping 95% of shots that came his way.
At just 24 years old, he’s proven to be the best goalie the Flyers have had in net since their Stanley Cup run in 2010, and with the support of the fanbase, he appears to have a long and bright future in the city of Brotherly Love ahead of him.
This is a prove it year for the Flyers, who are looking to shake the narrative of a fluke from 2020. They have young pieces and proven veterans to win games, but can they all perform well at once? The answer to that question will determine whether the Flyers keep up the play from their strong start or fall back down to the bottom of the standings again.