So much went haywire in the second quarter of the Flyers’ season, it’s difficult to give anyone a flattering grade on the mid-term/mid-season report card.
Things went so badly, the Flyers parted ways with general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol.
Enter new GM Chuck Fletcher and interim head coach Scott Gordon.
No matter. The Flyers continued their losing ways, sending them all the way to the basement of the Metropolitan Division.
The Flyers finished the first quarter of the season with a 9-9-2 mark.
Twenty games later, they had plummeted to 15-20-5.
That record left them 14 points out of a playoff berth through Friday night action.
It’s worth noting that, according to the NHL stats bureau, no Flyer team that has stood more than four points out of a playoff berth on Jan. 5 and gone on to make to make the postseason.
In fact, only twice in franchise history has any team made it with any sort of deficit on Jan. 5: The first instance was last season, when the Flyers were four points out; and the 1970-71 season when they were two points out.
The same issues which plagued the Flyers in the first quarter continued to undermine them in the second.
>Bad special teams: The Flyers entered Saturday action ranked 29th on the power play at 13.6 percent. The penalty kill wasn’t much better at 28th (74.4 percent).
>Lack of scoring: With just 116 goals, the Flyers stood ahead of only Carolina in the Metro Division.
>Unstable goaltending: The Flyers claimed Mike McKenna off waivers on Friday and if he sees action, he becomes the seventh goalie the Flyers have used this season, tying an NHL record. Coaches and players say it doesn’t make a difference who is in net but that seems a little hard to believe, considering the top two goalies (Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth) are currently injured.
Here are our mid-term grades:
/> A- — Claude Giroux: Just voted to his sixth NHL All-Star Game and one of the few bright spots in a rather dismal Flyers season.
/> B+ — Robert Hagg: Continues to be a steady force on the backline. His playing time now up to 18 minutes per game.
/> B+ — Scott Laughton: He can play just about anywhere in the lineup and is on pace for a career high in goals.
/> B+ — Carter Hart: It’s a small sample of work but how many 20-year-old goalies jump into the NHL and win their first two games?
/> B+ — Radko Gudas: Probably having his best season as a Flyer. Not taking dumb penalties and he’s a plus-8.
/> B –- Dale Weise: After a strong first quarter, Weise has maintained steady play. Has scored some timely goals.
/> B –- Travis Sanheim: The more experience he gets, the better he plays.
/> B –- Jake Voracek: That minus-16 sort of shadows his offensive exploits. Even he will tell you he can play better.
/> B –- Sean Couturier: Leads the team in goals but not playing up to last year’s Selke Trophy finalist level.
/> B- — Brian Elliott: Was playing well until the injury bug hit again. Flyers need him back if they hope to pull off playoff miracle.
/> C+ — Travis Konecny: A 13-game goal drought (which ended Saturday) has him playing with less confidence. Needs to cut loose a bit more.
/> C+ — Wayne Simmonds: On pace for 25 goals but only four goals on the power play way below his usual pace.
/> C+ — Michael Raffl: Was injured for over a month but recently scored in back-to-back games. Steady performer.
/> C+ — James van Riemsdyk: Injured most of first quarter, starting to find his shooting eye of late.
/> C –- Shayne Gostisbehere: This might be generous. His minus-17 is a bit glaring. On pace for just 34 points after connecting for 65 last year.
/> C –- Christian Folin: Hardly played in second quarter.
/> C –- Phil Varone: Good utility guy, has prior NHL experience.
/> C –- Andrew MacDonald: Valuable veteran who is a good influence on youngsters like Hagg, Provorov and Sanheim.
/> C –- Nolan Patrick: This grade might be higher if not for the fact he’s a No. 2 overall draft pick and the expectation bar is a bit higher.
/> C- — Ivan Provorov: We gave him a D+ in first quarter. He’s played better of late but still minus-13 and on pace for only 24 points after 41 last season.
/> C- — Michal Neuvirth: The trainers should get an A+ for keeping him upright for the few games he has played.
/> C- — Oskar Lindblom: That 20-something goal skid appears to be weighing on him.
/> C- — Jordan Weal: Not playing enough and doesn’t seem to care all that much when he doesn’t.
/> D –- Jori Lehtera: He’s got bigger problems in Finland than worrying about our report card.
/> B –- Scott Gordon: Team is hovering around .500 since he took over. He’s still trying to institute a more comprehensive defense system so it’s going to take some time. Getting favorable reviews from players.
/> B –- Chuck Fletcher: Hard to judge his body of work until after the trade deadline (and the draft, for that matter). The goaltending situation is so up in the air, missing the playoffs shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
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