January 11, 2021
We are a couple days away from the puck dropping to start the 2021 NHL season, and the Flyers — who made a playoff run that surprised even the most optimistic of fans — are once again a vivacious topic of conversation.
With a young roster, returning head coach who seems to have this finger firmly on the pulse of the team, and a young goalie whom many expect to be the franchise centerpiece for a decade, it's interesting to look and see that the media world has absolutely no idea what to expect from Philly in 2021.
Some expect the Flyers to win it all — and if you happen to be one of them, now would be the time to put your money where your mouth is as Philadelphia currently holds the sixth best Stanley Cup-Winning odds, at +1800, according to TheLines.com's consensus odds. That's a pretty healthy payday for Orange and Black believers.
And some, as we'll look at in a bit, seem to think the team's No. 1 seed and near berth into the Eastern Conference Finals in the bubble last summer is a fluke, and that the team will take a step back this season.
Below, we've compiled a handful of takes and predictions, from where the team will finish in the standings to individual achievements. Take a look...
Luszczyszyn is on a never-ending journey to use statistical models to properly predict how may wins an NHL team will have each season. In each of the last four seasons, he was off by around 11 wins in either direction — so take this for what it's worth — but his analysis and its intuitiveness is hard to deny.
In addition to win totals and playoff percentages (Philly has a 74% chance of making it, and 10% chance of making the Stanley Cup Final), Luszczyszyn also gives players a GSVA rating, similar to WAR in baseball. Sean Couturier is the overachiever of the bunch with a 2.8 rating, a number he accesses as being elite. Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Jake Voracek and Carter Hart are the next best four.
As for our promised point total, here it is:
The Flyers are projected to earn 67.1 points, a 98-point pace that falls just under the 100-point threshold. They have a 48 percent chance of playing above it. When a team’s recent history is so erratic, it’s better to be safe than sorry and the Flyers will essentially have to prove they’re worthy of a loftier projection. It’s not like it’s worked for them in the past.
There were many Flyers fans who felt this model slighted their favorite team down the stretch and will no doubt believe the same now. That’s especially true given their Pennsylvania rival is slotted ahead of them. Generally speaking, it takes more than half a year of good play for a team to elevate its standing and on the whole, the Flyers weren’t that strong. At five-on-five, their 53.6 percent goals rate was fifth in the league, but the 51 percent expected goals rate was 13th. This model has them right in the middle of that range at ninth, just a hair outside the contending tier.
If the Flyers pick up where they left off it won’t take long for them to change that, but for now, there are some question marks regarding the team’s ultimate ceiling. Philadelphia has loads of depth and a top 10 goalie, which is more than enough to make the Flyers a solid playoff bet at 74 percent. But the lack of elite talent overall likely limits how far they can be expected to go. [TheAthletic]
That would most likely have the Flyers finishing around third in the Eastern Division.
Over at BSH, our friends there are predicting the Flyers will have home ice advantage (whatever that will be worth in 2021) for the first round of the postseason, ranking them behind only the Capitals and Bruins in the eight-team Eastern Division.
I really tried to be realistic with this one. Every single fiber of my being was trying to force my fingers to put the Flyers winning the division, but I just couldn’t do it. I’m not pessimistic, but I’m barely staying in the middle of things.
It felt like a mountain of things went the Flyers’ way last season and I’m betting that some of them won’t continue. Their offense looks alright, but at points throughout last campaign, goals were completely foreign to this club. It just feels abnormal for me to predict a division title, even in these weird circumstances.
With all of that said, the hockey pendulum could swing the other way and result in some Flyers, in desperate need of a boost, to have career seasons. But considering some of the teams around them within this hellscape of the East division, it’s safe to say that they will be secure in a playoff spot at season’s end, but most likely won’t be at the top. [Broad Street Hockey]
The league's official website asked 15 of its hockey writers to make season predictions for 2021. Here's what they thought of the Flyers' chances in the Eastern Division, as well as how far they think they'll go in the postseason:
Amalie Benjamin: 1st in east, Stanley Cup losers
Tim Campbell: 3rd in east
Brian Compton: 4th in east
Nicholas J. Cotsonika: 2nd in east
William Douglas: 4th in east
Tom Gulitti: 3rd in east
Pete Jensen: Miss playoffs
Adam Kimelman: 2nd in east, eastern finals losers
Tracey Myers: 1st in east, eastern finals losers
Mike G. Morreale: 2nd in east, Stanley Cup Champions, Carter Hart Conn Smyth
Bill Price: 2nd in east
Shawn P. Roarke: 1st in east
Dan Rosen: 1st in east, Stanley Cup losers
Dave Stubbs: 1st in east, eastern finals losers
Mike Zeisberger: Miss playoffs [NHL.com]
How wild is that? NHL.com's editorial staff is so divided on the Flyers, that there are some who see them as Stanley Cup finalists (or even winners) and some who think they'll miss the playoffs. For what it's worth, 12 of the 15 participants are anointing the Colorado Avalanche as the expected 2021 champion.
FanSided's Flyers blog is understandably a bit "homer," as most hometown team blogs are by nature, but that doesn't necessarily mean analysis from such outlets is not worth considering. At Section 215, three bold predictions are given, including 20 goals for James Van Riemsdyk and a Vezina Trophy for Carter Hart. Dickson also happens to think the Flyers are the best team in the East:
This team enters the 2021 NHL season incredibly loaded, in fact, overflowing with talent up and down the lineup. This organization has done a fantastic job putting the pieces back together, even if it took them nine freaking years to return to relevance. The fruits of this long arduous rebuild have finally begun to blossom.
Coming off the best season the franchise has seen since all the way back during the 2011-2012 campaign, the Orange and Black are poised to take another step forward this year. Last season’s trip to Game 7 of the second-round was certainly a surprise, however the rest of the league is now on notice and this Philadelphia Flyers team will not have the luxury of being able to sneak up on teams, and that is okay.
Aside from the expected step forward from new face of the franchise Carter Hart (as we have just discussed), the Orange and Black have so many different players who are set to help this team reach new heights. For instance, Travis Konecny is fresh off a career high 61 points in 66 games. He has also improved his point total in each of his first four seasons in the NHL, so naturally you would expect another step forward this year. How about the return of Nolan Patrick? As he has spent the last year+ dealing with migraine issues. Or the return of Oskar Lindblom? As he is now cancer free after his battle with Ewings Sarcoma.
Claude Giroux is set to bounce back, Ivan Provorov is entrenched as a true number one defense-men in the NHL. You can legitimately go on and on with this current Flyers team and why they are set to do great things in 2021. [Section215.com]
Another Flyers blog, and another unsurprisingly rosy prediction for the Flyers, as PHL Sports Nation is taking some big swings. In addition to boldly predicting that Claude Giroux will lead the team in points and that Carter Hart will be the league's best goalie, they think Philadelphia will represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals. Though I suppose if the Flyers do get those kinds of performances from Giroux and Hart, that would be a reasonable conclusion to make.
This season they will add a fully healthy Oskar Lindblom. Morgan Frost will look to make the jump to full-time 3rd or 4th liner and I fully expect him to do so and he will be great in that role. By all accounts, Nolan Patrick has looked really good in his rehabilitation from a migraine disorder that kept him out all of last season and will be a huge boost to the center position. And let’s not forget the lessons learned by the young crop of players in last season’s playoffs. Most of those players were having their very first playoff experiences and will build on that. The condensed schedule will favor a young team like the Flyers as opposed to an older team like the Capitals or Bruins. Look for the Flyers to be in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021. [PHL Sports Nation]
The Canadians are experts at hockey right? So the opinions from SportNet are always worth keeping an eye on. Instead of flat out projecting how they think the 2021 campaign will go, SN decided to give a best- and worst-case scenario for each team this season.
We'll give you the short story for the worst case: a slow start (like they seem to have every damn season) winds up being too big a hurdle to overcome in a shortened 56-game season.
The best case?
With little change throughout the roster, the Flyers are able to pick up where they left off despite the long hiatus. Remarkable comebacks by a cancer-free Oskar Lindblom and a healthy Nolan Patrick bolster this club both in the locker room and on the ice, two stars very much worth celebrating. The trophy case starts to fill up: Carter Hart's rapid ascent earns him his first Vezina finalist nod, and Sean Couturier's elite two-way game gets him his second straight Selke, while the Stanley Cup remains firmly in sight. [SportsNet]
And now we dive into some individual accolades. At ESPN, the "Worldwide Leader" took a look at each team and made a handful of predictions, including strengths and weaknesses. They also highlight a potential breakthrough player, and since we couldn't find an ESPN season prediction page, we're including this one:
Of course, you already know the name, and he’s coming off the best season of his four-year career. But this will be the season in which Provorov, 23, elevates himself into the conversation as one of the top defensemen in this league, full stop. And the six-year, $40.5 million contract that he signed ahead of the 2019-20 season is going to look like a bargain soon. [ESPN]
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