“I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” This phrase feels terrible. It’s painful to say. It’s painful to hear. Yet here we are 31 games into the 2014-2015 season for the Philadelphia Flyers and that’s where I’m at with this team. They are disappointing. Disappointing for various reasons. In their process. Their character. Top to bottom. Up and down. Inside and out. Just flat-out disappointing.
This team should be better. They are more balanced than last year, with more speed, more puck skill, and are getting MVP-level performances from both Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. Those two will likely finish in the top 10 in scoring in the NHL this year, if they remain healthy. Wayne Simmonds, despite being awfully streaky, has 14 goals in 31 games which should put him at a career-high 37 goals for the year, if he maintains the same pace. Then there’s Steve Mason who had a less than desirable start to the year, but has picked it up as of late and is owner of a .922 save percentage, good enough for 15th in the league. Sure his rebound control is still suspect and he has his flaws, but that kind of improvement should be rewarded with some notches in the win column. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the kind of year it’s going to be for the Orange and Black.
Looking at the defense corps, that’s the easiest place to point fingers when it comes to the roster and how it is assembled. There are no true number one defensemen on this team. Just a lot of decent guys who can play between 17 and 21 minutes a night. But even with this group patrolling the blue line, this team should have won a handful of the games they’ve dropped this year.
Certainly coaching is an issue as well. Maybe with a different coach, a different system, shoot… even just a different approach to roster decisions, the Flyers might have a different looking record. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any coaches available to get even moderately excited about like when Peter Laviolette was brought in to man the helm back in 2009.
Maybe a trade would spark some life, but then the other issues would still remain and even so, the systemic problems this team faces game in and game out won’t just be magically resolved with a player swap. The team doesn’t need a new face in the locker room any more than they need to be shaken up or benched or bag skated or yelled at until their ears are ringing. They don’t seem to have the character to be able to turn things around like last year. They don’t seem to have the resolve to continue to press when the chips are down. While there’s a lot of hockey left to be played this season, teams usually get some sort of identity by this time and the Flyers have no clue who they are other than a below average team with a below average record that has them out of the playoff picture by a full eight points.
What’s most disappointing about this team is the fact that they play in the worst division in hockey and if they did somehow claw their way back into playoff contention this year, they would have as good a shot as any of the other seven teams to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final. There isn’t one team in the East that is miles ahead of any other team. So I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.