May 11, 2021
In what turned out to be 56 games of frustration, the Philadelphia Flyers season came to an end with a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday. Ever since March began to wrap up, the fans have — for the most part — been waiting to close the book on this season despite all of the optimism it had at the beginning.
Thanks to unreliable goaltending, a broken defense and an ineffective special teams, the Flyers’ season came tumbling down, erasing all of the good juju the team had built after the resumption of the 2019-20 season and through the first stretch of this campaign.
With this season officially in the rearview mirror, it’s only right to hand out some “awards” as a way to put a bow on this excruciating season (h/t to Jimmy Kempski for the format):
The Flyers penalty kill was miserable this season.
A bottom 10 unit, the Flyers looked completely lost when playing a man down (and didn't look much better when having a man advantage, either). Between the loss of Matt Niskanen, who was an astute penalty killer, and the poor play of the goalies, the Flyers couldn’t get out of their own way when it came time to defend for two minutes with a man down.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher didn't make many moves last offseason. The one notable acquisition, though, was Erik Gustaffson.
It's safe to say at this point that that project failed miserably. Fletcher moved on from the odd-fit defensemen before the trade deadline. Gustaffon's Flyers career spanned just 24 games. Fletcher will need to make some better decisions this summer.
You know that Neuralyzer pen that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones hold up to unsuspecting people in the Men in Black movies and in an instant, those people's minds are erased?
Let's get one of those and hit Carter Hart with it. After a dreadful 2021 campaign — 9-11-5 with a 3.67 GAA and .877 save percentage — it’s best for this organization to reset the mind of Hart and get the 22-year-old netminder back to his former self. To boot, Hart’s season came an end earlier than expected as he goes into the offseason recovering from a season-ending MCL sprain.
Okay, bear with me as a nerd alert is incoming. Anyone who watched the Disney+ "WandaVision" series and spent anytime reading the social media chatter about it knows that Mephisto, one of Scarlet Witch's biggest nemesis, was someone fans wanted to see in the series. Every episode was a "this has got to be the one" moment as fans long awaited his arrival only for him never to appear.
That's Nolan Patrick — this season and in his career. In 52 games, the former No. 2 overall pick had just nine points and had just two points dating back to Mar. 29, a span lasting 19 games.
Nolan Patrick is now minus-30, tied for second-worst in NHL. #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) May 11, 2021
At the end of March, the Flyers opted to waive Shayne Gostisbehere and expose him to any franchise willing to take on his contract. He cleared waivers after a large outcry from the fan base, and he eventually returned to the Orange and Black.
From that point forward, Ghost played with a fire underneath him as he turned that "Bad Blood" into nine points (4 G, 5 A) from April on. Only three other defensemen registered more goals than Gostisbehere in that span. That more than likely will be his final chapter in Philadelphia but it did give him a chance for a little sweet revenge to management before his send-off.
He even has added a few solid hits to his highlight reel over the final two months of the season.
Let's not dwell on this too much. We all know the details unfortunately.
It was historically one of the worst months ever for any team with a 6-10-1 record and an astonishing 75 goals allowed, a franchise low. They entered the month with the best points percentage in the East Division only to see themselves fall out of the playoff picture with embarrassing losses piling up, including the final 6-1 defeat that ended Buffalo’s then 18-game losing streak.
Maybe we can ask Hart to borrow that Men in Black mind-erasing pen and forget about this month, too.
For a franchise that touts its prospects, the burden of the Flyers’ lackluster season can't be placed on the shoulders of its veterans.
The top three point producers this season were all over the age of 32 — Jake Voracek (43), James van Riemsdyk (43) and Claude Giroux (43). Though not considered "old," Sean Couturier, who is just 28-years-old has played 10 seasons in the NHL, was fourth on the team in scoring. There’s a realistic chance that both van Riemsdyk and Voracek could be on the move this summer, meaning a changing of the guard could be coming rather quickly.
While it's still to be determined, all signs point towards James van Riemsdyk being the selection by the NHL's 31st franchise, the Seattle Kraken.
For what it's worth, the New Jersey native put forth a solid season — albeit one that started off much stronger than it ended. His second go-around with Philly will come to an end and with it, a decent size contract will come off the books (win!).
One of the few reasons fans had any reason to cheer over the final stretch of the season — besides when seeing Gritty on the jumbotron — was Wade Allison. The Western Michigan forward made his NHL debut on April 15 and scored his first goal in the following game.
In his 14-game audition for next season, the 2016 second round pick registered seven points with four goals, including his two-goal game in the third to last contest of the season. Besides showing flashes of his offensive skill, Allison also seemed to always be in the right spot and truly showed his potential as a productive NHL forward with just enough grit.
Gotta respect Wade Allison for providing some semblance of a Flyers-related bright spot during this mess of a final few weeks of the 2020-21 season.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) May 8, 2021
As Jason Kelce would say "It's the whole damn team!" Okay, maybe there were a few bright spots — Joel Farabee and Allison to name two — but that's about all.
This is a season fans will quickly want to forget and never want to speak about again. After the way the previous season wrapped up as the Flyers won the round robin for the No. 1 seed mixed with the fast start to this campaign, seeing the end result of 2021 proves that bad things really do happen in the City of Brotherly Love.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @Kyle_Phillippi
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports