What has to improve to make Flyers a contender again

Carter Hart

In evaluating why the Flyers’ season went wrong, one red number jumps right out at you.

That would be a minus-36, created by having allowed 277 goals (going into game number 82 on Saturday night) while scoring only 241.

By comparison, the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning’s number is a black 100.

At first glance, it would seem the Flyers’ negative number would be a byproduct of sub-par defense by backliners and goaltending.

That would be unfair, because any team with a deficit goal differential almost always has help from its dozen forwards who aren’t playing great two-way hockey.

And so that’s something the Flyers have to look long and hard at this summer.

To put it in perspective, the Flyers haven’t given up this many goals since the franchise all-time worse team of 2006-07 gave up 297.

So it’s incumbent on general manager Chuck Fletcher to figure out how to rebuild a roster and decide if this season was an anomaly or par for the course.

Keep this in mind: Even when the Flyers put together a 98-point playoff-qualifying team last season, they were still only a plus-13.

Here are our final report card grades:


**A** — Sean Couturier: Played his best hockey when Flyers went on 18-4-2 run; should be finalist for Selke Trophy (NHL best defensive forward).

**A** — Carter Hart: If not for an injury, he might be a serious candidate for rookie of the year. Bright future ahead.

**A-** — Claude Giroux: Numbers are down a bit from last season but still the heart of the Flyers’ offense.

**A-** — Radko Gudas: Enjoyed his best season in NHL. Smart decisions, shot blocker, intimidating presence in front of Flyers’ net.

**B+** — Oskar Lindblom: Came on strong in second half and took on more responsibility down the stretch.

**B+** — Scott Laughton: Career highs in goals, assists, points. Now becoming a veteran leader in the locker room.

**B+** — Travis Sanheim: Looks like he’s established himself as NHL regular; promotion to top defensive pairing deserved.

**B+** — James van Riemsdyk: If not for a foot injury that cost him 16 games, might have matched last year’s personal record goal total of 36.

**B** — Travis Konecny: Established new highs for assists and points – tapered off a bit toward end of season.

**B** — Robert Hagg: Did some of his best work with Gudas; steady performer, hits, block shots, strong positionally.

**B** — Jake Voracek: Sets high standards for himself and minus-16 probably doesn’t sit well.

**B-** — Ivan Provorov: Struggled early in season and still trying to catch up in plus-minus, which sits at minus-16. Hasn’t missed a game (246 straight) since start of career.

**B-** — Brian Elliott: Those three months off due to lower-body injury undermined his season. Still came back with a 5-1-1 mark during Flyers’ late push.

**B-** — Nolan Patrick: Showed flashes of brilliance, like that four-point game. But inconsistent and a bit injury-prone.

**C+** — Phil Myers: Just returned to Phantoms but gained some valuable experience in his couple months here.

**C+** — Shayne Gostisbehere: No one knows yet if he was playing hurt this season but that minus-21 looks suspicious.

**C+** — Michael Raffl: Another player whose season was compromised by injury but new two-year contract was good move by Flyers.

**C** — Ryan Hartman: Small sample of work but looks like a viable option on third line.

**C** — Justin Bailey: Another player who has only been here a short while. Provides energy on fourth line.

**C** — Phil Varone: Veteran who can fill in anywhere on fourth line.

**C** — Corban Knight: Bounced back from dislocated shoulder and held his own.

**C** — Sam Morin: Too early to make any real judgment but, like Myers, getting experience.

**C** — Cam Talbot: Hoped to see more action. Interesting to see if Flyers will make attempt to sign him to new contract.

**C** — Andrew MacDonald: Valuable depth player but the issue is still that multi-million dollar contract.

**D** — Michal Neuvirth: Michal Who?


**B+** — Scott Gordon: Given what he had to work with and joining the team in mid-season, he did a good job getting the Flyers back into contention with 18-4-2 run. Should be considered for permanent position.


**B** — Chuck Fletcher: There wasn’t much he could do personnel-wise, except the obvious move of unloading Wayne Simmonds to Nashville. Could be a very busy summer.


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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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