The Flyers, historically, make the playoffs at an impressive rate.
In 49 seasons in the NHL, they’ve appeared in the postseason 38 times, or just under 78 percent. By comparison, the Canadiens have made the playoffs 83 times in 99 seasons. They have a higher percentage of postseason berths than the Bruins, Red Wings and Maple Leafs — three of the NHL’s most storied franchises.
And yet, this weekend after a 4-3 loss to the 100-plus point Rangers in New York, the Flyers became the first team in the history of the sport to boast both a 10-or-more game win streak and no playoff appearance. They will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for justthe 11th time in their history.
“We had a lot of opportunities this year to get some points; there were some tight games in the third period and we weren’t able to get it done,” Claude Girouxtold reporters Sunday. “I think it happened too often, and that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in now.”
A year ago, in the wake of the death of Flyers’ founder Ed Snider, Philly closed a seeming insurmountable gap to make the playoffs as the final wild card team and nearly upset the top-seeded Capitals before falling in six games.
This season, the Flyers were 20-11-4, firmly entrenched in the Metropolitanconference playoff picture on Dec. 21 before faltering at a 18-22-4 clip since. In the aftermath of their 10-game win streak they went 3-12 stemming from Christmas to January.
“You can’t be good until December, and then win one, lose one,” Brayden Schenn also told the media.
Philly will now play three meaningless games before packing up for six months. Will big changes be on the horizon? Will the Flyers take more chances on young players or on the free agent market?
The confounding 2016-17 season saw Philly boast the two best power play scorers in Wayne Simmonds and Schenn, but also the 14th best power play overall.
It saw some impressive performances from goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, but also a 2.90 goals against average, ninth worst in hockey. Of playoff contenders, the Flyers had the worst goal differential in the East.
There are a bevy of problems the team must examine and attack when piecing together a roster that is better in 2017-18.
Will GM Ron Hextall continue to take his “steady as she goes” approach or will there be some sort of major shake-up? Something must give. Because as the last 49 seasons have shown, mediocre hockey is not part of the Philadelphia Flyers DNA.