Flyers 5: Takeaways from the 2021-22 Season
A season that felt like it lasted an eternity finally came to an official end on Friday night as the Flyers closed out the 2021-22 schedule with a 4-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators.
The offseason will present its challenges for a team in need of an overhaul and massive improvements at every level of the organization. There will be plenty of stories to come as next season’s team is constructed. For now, here’s one last look at the 2021-22 season with five takeaways from the season.
1. Historic for All the Wrong Reasons
It featured a 10-game losing streak. Then there was a franchise-record 13-game losing streak. There were two more six-game losing streaks before the season ended.
Two losing streaks of double-digits in the same season was already historic for the Flyers. They also recorded more than 40 regulation losses for just the second time in franchise history. They finished with 61 points in the standings, their second-lowest total in an 82-game season in franchise history.
What made matters worse was that the fate of the season was known essentially by the quarter-mark of the season. The losing streaks in the middle of the season, one which led to a coaching change, felt endless and once the trade deadline passed, the remaining games were irrelevant.
2. Special Teams Nightmare
Prior to the season, GM Chuck Fletcher expressed a need to get better at special teams. He noted how the majority of playoff teams finish in the Top 15 of both special teams categories. It should come as no surprise that the Flyers futility this season was fueled by massive special teams issues.
The Flyers power play was dead last in the league. In 239 power-play attempts, the Flyers scored just 30 goals – two of which came in the final game of the season on Friday night – a success rate of 12.6 percent. While on the power play, they also allowed 11 shorthanded goals, tied for third-most in the league.
The penalty kill wasn’t much better. The Flyers ranked 27th in the league in penalty kill, allowing 57 power-play goals on 235 attempts, a successful kill rate of 75.7 percent.
3. End of an Era
Once things got out of hand with a coaching change and two double-digit losing streaks in the books, it was apparent the move that was coming at the trade deadline.
On March 17, Claude Giroux took the ice for the Flyers for his 1,000th NHL game. The Flyers rallied back for a 5-4 win against the Nashville Predators and Giroux got the send-off he deserved, taking a couple of laps around the Wells Fargo Center ice and waving to the saluting fans.
Two days later, Giroux was traded to the Florida Panthers, leaving the Flyers ranking second all-time in franchise history in games played, assists, and points.
4. Off-Ice Noise
It’s usually inevitable that in a franchise’s history, there will be seasons to forget in terms of results. If the only part of the story was that the Flyers were a mess on the ice for a variety of factors, perhaps there would be more optimism entering the offseason. After all, the Flyers went from the bottom of the standings in the 2006-07 season, made some savvy moves late that season and in the offseason, and transformed the team again to reach the conference finals the very next season.
But in this season, there was a disastrous amount of off-ice noise surrounding the team. In the middle of the 10-game losing streak in early December, the Flyers made another coaching change. When Mike Yeo took over on an interim basis, he became the sixth head coach for the Flyers since the start of the 2013-14 season. On the same day the change was made, a viral video of a police dog relieving itself on the center-ice logo was the talk of the web.
As the losing streak progressed, fans on Twitter started a movement, changing their profile pictures to an image of a Flyers fan with a bag over his head.
The team didn’t acknowledge founder Ed Snider’s birthday in early January, drawing ire from former players and Snider’s daughter. Bobby Clarke appeared on the Cam and Strick Podcast and made comments about how Ron Hextall ignored the scouts in the 2017 NHL Draft by taking Nolan Patrick over Cale Makar and that nobody knew that the trade sending Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues was in the works.
The losing only continued from there, and just a couple of weeks ago, news broke that two Flyers trainers are suing Comcast after being diagnosed with cancer.
It felt like a reality show. It was as if every week, there was something new coming out that made you question the organization’s direction. And that brings us to the final takeaway…
5. No Sense of Direction
At the midpoint of the season, the Flyers happened to be mired in their franchise-record 13-game losing streak. This is usually the point in the season when a general manager will speak to the media.
It was no surprise that Fletcher was meeting with the media in late January, but when Flyers governor Dave Scott was with him, that was an unannounced surprise. Scott made a statement to start, sharing in the frustration that Flyers fans were feeling and going so far as to apologize.
But from there, everything went downhill in the press conference. Fletcher seemed to speak about building a team through the draft, not just with quality selections, but proper development after players are drafted. That would as much be a focus for any current prospects as it was new draft picks to come.
Scott, however, had other ideas. He talked about how he would make blank checks available for the team to get whatever it needed to get better. That screamed of reckless abandon.
Fletcher then offered the term “aggressive retool.” Fletcher wasn’t wrong when he said the team lacks high-end talent. That’s apparent. But if the Flyers management thinks the way to go this offseason is to just throw more band-aids on everything, rearrange the furniture, throw stuff at the wall and hope it sticks, that isn’t a concrete plan for building much of anything.
The Flyers will almost definitely have a Top-5 pick in the draft. They will have some young players who deserve more of a look at the NHL level beyond the sample size they got this season. But if anyone thinks this whole thing is going to just magically get better overnight, think again.
Philadelphia Flyers Uniforms Through The Years