Flyers Prolonging the Inevitable?

It’s been a wild ride this season for the Philadelphia Flyers. At one point, they were near the top of the league in the standings and in several offensive categories, those were the glory days.

Just a few months later, all had gone downhill. The team couldn’t score, they found themselves on the outside looking in, and there were several questions looming about the future of the team.

Some of that has settled, but a lot of fans have been left frustrated by the fact that they’ve turned the jets on when it’s too late. The Flyers have won four out of their last five games, but will it be enough to make the playoffs? Or are the Flyers just prolonging being eliminated?

An Uphill Battle

If the Flyers want any shot of making the playoffs, they’re going to have to get a lot of help from other teams in the league. Right now, the Flyers sit six points out of a playoff spot with just five games remaining. All of their games are against the Metropolitan Division. Now, first things first, to even have the slightest chance of making the post-season, the Flyers would need to win all of their remaining games, no questions asked.

Four of the five remaining games are against teams who are ahead of them in the standings. What’s even more of a problem is that the Flyers are a combined 3-9-1 against those teams this season. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Wayne Simmonds
Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers need a miracle. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But once again, the Flyers have no control over their own destiny. They would essentially need either the Bruins of Leafs to suffer a complete collapse.

If the Flyers win out, they can only finish with 92 points. Currently, the Bruins sit at 88 points with five games remaining and the Leafs occupy the third spot in the Atlantic Division with 89 points and six games remaining. Now you can really see how bleak the picture is.

Another factor to take into account here is that the Flyers cannot finish tied with any team for a playoff spot. The Flyers only have 30 regulation/overtime wins. That won’t bode well when fighting for a playoff spot. The Bruins, the team they’re chasing, have 38 regulation/overtime wins. That means if the Flyers were to somehow finish tied with the Bruins, they would lose the tie-breaker.

A Missed Opportunity

I sat here about four months ago, and I was astonished at how well the Flyers were playing. Their ten-game winning streak had already ended, but they were still beating teams like the Capitals and scoring a lot of goals in the process. I wrote about how the Flyers just had to be consistent and they would easily nab one of the divisional spots in the playoffs.

Those days have since passed and the Flyers subsequently played one of the worst second halves I have seen from them. Consistent winning was what set them up for success, and inconsistency is why they won’t be playing deep into April and May this season.

Steve Mason has been consistent in the second half. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When January came around, it was almost like the Flyers flipped a switch and stopped scoring goals. It was a tradeoff. Their defensive stats improved, and they were giving up fewer goals, but their offense suffered dearly. In fact, the Flyers were 27th in goals per game from January through the beginning of March.

Whether that is a product of a coaching staff that tweaked things at the wrong time or players that just cooled off, one thing is for sure, this Flyers team doesn’t lack talent.

This inconsistency can even be broken down game by game. I was in shock during the first period the Flyers played against the Islanders. Five goals, two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, and a team that looked like it was shot out of a cannon. They outshot the Islanders 19-10. Then, after the first period, it was like a switch was flipped, the Flyers sat back.

The Isles went on to outshoot the Flyers 31-11 in the final two periods and had it not been for the outstanding play of Steve Mason, the Isles could have come back and tied the game. Somehow a 6-3 win felt more like a deflating 2-0 loss.

That right there is a microcosm of the Flyers’ season. One step in the right direction followed by two steps in the wrong direction.

The Flyers aren’t a team that’s lacking talent, they’re a team that’s severely lacking chemistry and a team that has been mismanaged throughout the latter half of the season. That’s why it’s too little, too late in Philadelphia.