Another early golfing year for the Orange and Black. It feels weird to say that as I grew up in a time when the Flyers were perennially fighting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But recently, missing the postseason has been all too common.
Though the Flyers eventually missed the playoffs, they did have some memorable parts of the year and also some parts many fans would rather forget.
First and foremost, the Flyers ripped off ten straight wins in the waning days of fall. They came back countless times and found ways to win from November 27-December 14 putting them squarely in playoff position. Ultimately, the win streak was an outlier of the season and not enough to get the Flyers into the playoffs, but the accomplishment was still awesome.
Ivan Provorov. When the Flyers drafted him seventh in the 2015 draft, I was excited. Everything the talking heads said about him made me think the Flyguys had a future top-pairing d-man in their organization. With his play as a 19-year-old, that belief became firmer. He finished his rookie season with 6 goals, 24 assists for 30 points, a -7 while leading the team with an average ice time of 21:58 per game. Provorov proved he has the goods and will be an anchor for Philly for years to come.
Wayne Simmonds. He didn’t lead the team with points, but no player was more crucial to the Flyers than No. 17. Simmonds led the team with 31 goals with 16 of them coming on the power play and four game-winners. His 54 points were the third highest in his career and the 31 goals is one shy of his 2015-16 total and gives him two straight years breaking the 30-goal mark.
The Winter. January and February were not kind to the Flyers as they got outscored 70-47. It was the beginning of the end for the Flyers as the continued to founder at times to finish out the year, despite a respectable 8-6-1 record in March. The Flyers struggled to find any form of consistency following their win-streak, which led to them missing the playoffs for the third time in the last five seasons.
Scoring. Only one player (Connor McDavid) even reached the 100-point mark this season. Even still, Jakub Voracek leading the team with 61 points is not what the Flyers had in mind. 61 points is nothing to scoff at, but both Giroux and Voracek have eclipsed the 90-point mark. 28 and 93 would probably be the first guys to tell you they could have been better. Part of the reason the Flyers finished 20th in goals per game was because their top players were not at their best.
Hearing analysts talk about the Flyers goalies is like listening to commentators bring up the snowballs and Santa story. We know. Move on. But still, it’s part of the conversation as to why the Flyers missed the postseason. Steve Mason will look brilliant at moments and completely befuddled at others while Michael Neuvirth didn’t just take a step back from last season, he took a giant leap into the red. Mason finished with a 2.66 goals against average and .908 save percentage while adding three shutouts. Neuvirth, rewarded with a new two-year contract, was abysmal with a 2.82 GAA and .891 (891!) save percentage. The Flyers have lots of goalie prospects, but they’re still waiting for anyone to pan out.
In all, the season was one of…uh…growth. The Flyers have lots of young defenseman that will most likely make an NHL appearance next year. And with another relatively high draft pick, the Flyers are in good position to continue with Hextall’s plan of building from within. As a fan, it can be tough to endure, but impatience in the past is what has brought the Flyers to the point they are now.