The Flyers are a painfully average team this year. The offense is under-performing, the team has been flat, and injuries have bitten early on.
The team as a whole wasn’t expected to be good, but this season has exposed flaws in places where there shouldn’t have been flaws. Most notably, the biggest problem facing the Flyers this season has been their lack of scoring, which is ranked 29th in the NHL at 1.96 goals per game.
There has been a few bright spots this season, mainly with some of the younger players, but those have been largely overshadowed by the bigger problems facing the club.
With just a 11-11-5 record more than a quarter of the way through the season, the Flyers have a lot they need to improve on and a lot they have to wish for.
So what should Dave Hakstol and the Flyers put on their wishlist this Christmas? Let’s take a look.
This runs through every level of the team. Fans, coaches, and players. I’ve seen the Flyers play in many different atmospheres through many years, including the abysmal 2006-07 season, and it has never been so lifeless at Philadelphia Flyers games.
The Flyers are still 5th in the NHL in terms of attendance (19,141 per game) but walk into Wells Fargo Center and you will find yourself surrounded by empty seats, people on their phone, and arena bars that have become a more desirable destination than sitting and watching the game from a seat. That’s something that is far from the norm in Philadelphia, especially for hockey.
The team is still averaging under two goals per game and that provides nearly no entertainment. Granted, scoring is down as a whole, but the Flyers are not a hot ticket right now.
Any Flyers fan will tell you that they would love to have Wells Fargo Center back to its normal, rambunctious and crazy atmosphere, but fans can only do so much. They feed off the play on the ice, give them something to get up and cheer about and they will. Right now, other than a few ‘Let’s Go Flyers’ chants, their isn’t much to cheer about in Philadelphia.
This is far and away the most crucial thing on the list.
To say Jakub Voracek has been almost non-existent this season would be an understatement. 15 points and 1 goal is all Voracek has to show through his first 27 games of this season. That’s concerning and certainly a far cry from the 9 goals and 33 points he had at the same point in the season last year.
In fact, it gets even more worrisome the deeper you dig.
At the beginning of the season, Voracek was getting dirty, throwing pucks at the net, and getting chances. During the month of October, he had four or more shots in 7 of his 10 games, including 3 games where he managed six shots. In the 17 games since then? Voracek has had just three in which he registered four shots, he’s also had 3 in which he registered no shots at all.
Voracek also leads Flyer forwards in turnovers and has the lowest shooting percentage of any Flyer forward at 1.3%.
Getting Voracek back to his normal production level would be a godsend for the Flyers and would vastly improve their scoring woes, but is it going to happen anytime soon?
As I already mentioned, we’re already more than a quarter of the way through this season, it isn’t a slump anymore, it’s turning into a trend. What’s even more intriguing is that since Voracek and Claude Giroux have been split up, Giroux has still continued to produce more than ever, while Voracek is mainly getting his points off of power play assists on goals Giroux scores. It isn’t a good situation for him to be in, but the Flyers can only hope to get him back to where he needs to be soon.
The Power Play
The number three ranked power play in the NHL last year, has found itself buried at number 25 this season.
The fact that the power play is even ranked 25th is largely due to the call up of young phenom Shayne Gostisbehere, who has provided somewhat of a boost to the Flyers man advantage, quite literally by himself.
The young Flyer defenseman is now 6th on the team in scoring, despite playing in 11 of the 27 games so far. His impact extends past there. Gostisbehere has had a hand in 5 of the 7 power play goals the Flyers have in the time period since he’s been in the NHL. Aside from that, the Flyers powerplay is operating at 4.8% over that time period. What’s even worse? Right before Gostisbehere was called up, the Flyers went a string of seven games without scoring a power play goal.
Without him it’s very plausible the Flyers would’ve had another scoreless power play streak.
It’s no secret, the Flyers need to find scoring on the man advantage. Giroux is the only player on the Flyers with more than 10 power play points, and no Flyer has more than 5 power play goals. This is the same team, who a year ago, had three players in the top 10 in the NHL in power play points(Giroux, Voracek, and Mark Streit).
That right there is one of the main reasons the Flyers are struggling so bad this season, and if it doesn’t get fixed, this team will continue to struggle.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.