Well, it’s been about 18 hours since the Game Six loss yesterday and I’m still reeling in my emotions. On one hand, we knew the Flyers were supposed to lose the series. The Fly Guys could’ve very easily rolled over and let the Pens finish them off in Game Five but the team showed resiliency and won. On the other hand, there’s yesterday’s 8-5 loss.
From the Letang trip right before Guentzel’s 3rd to make the score 6-4, to Cout’s epic performance on a torn MCL, all the way to see those idiots chuck beer cans at the refs, Sunday’s loss rode across every level of emotion you can feel as a Flyers fan. First of all, if you are one of the beer-throwing idiots, go f*** yourself. The trip will be the lasting image of a poorly officiated game but there were plenty of other misses as well. I’m not a physics guy but throwing a 25oz can of beer from the upper bowl is going to leave a serious mark and could be construed as assault but again, not a legal guy. Anyway, congrats again to Pittsburgh, you’ll be sitting in the driver’s seat for the next round no matter who wins the Caps/Jackets series. The Pens are much better offensively than CBJ and are deeper all around than Washington–but we’ll discuss that once the matchup is official.
The real question now is: where do the Flyers go from here? Analysts and fans have both thought for most of the season that trading one of the top stars–either Giroux or Voracek–and getting a haul is the right play–especially when they were out of the playoffs. With Giroux’s 100-point season, he’s cemented himself here but murmurs I’ve read have flipped Wayne Simmons in for Giroux. If the Flyers want to try to flip a player, fine, something has to be done here, but only Voracek should be the forward you want to let go of. Simmons clearly has been at the core of this team as a leader and it would be a mistake to rip him away. As much as I love Scoracek, his ability to dish out the puck with precision gives him some great trade value, especially to teams with higher picks and younger talent Jake could help out.
I’d also throw out Sanheim or even Hagg as possible trades mainly because it seems like the organization doesn’t know what to do with either of them. Both are solid young defensemen who got the short end of the stick with Hakstol liking guys like Gudas, MacDonald, and Manning in favor of them. If I were Ron Hextall, though, I’d hold on to the young defensemen, ditch those three, and go out in free agency to find a veteran to pair up with them. Adding a defenseman who has a number of years under his belt could be the key to helping progress those two to the next level, and help Ghost and Provorov take the next steps with their impressive young careers. Adding another anchor is a must-do this offseason as is getting rid of AT LEAST those three defensemen. Gudas dug his grave trying to dangle yesterday.
Greg, Matt, and I have brought up the Flyers’ goaltending every time we discuss the team but figuring out a plan until Carter Hart can get to the show is another must-do. Buy out Brian Elliott’s remaining year. Have Michael Neuvirth try to hold you up as much as possible as he was the only goalie I didn’t HATE at the end of the season. Mrazek could stay or go but we need the Mrazek from his first couple weeks as a Flyer, not the inconsistent sieve we saw at the end of the regular season. All we can really do at this point now is bide our time until Carter Hart gets the call.
Dave Hakstol also needs to be better in-game. Having a stoic-looking coach is nice but we need some emotion and decision-making buddy. If the Flyers fired Peter Laviolette after three games, Hakstol HAS to be on a short leash entering next season. I’ve gone back-and-forth with where I stand, but my opinion of Hakstol has dropped significantly since I was defending him during the ten-game slide. The Penguins series really called his game-time decision-making into question and it will be hard to forget that.
2017-18 was a wacky year in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers. They were by far one of the most streaky teams in the NHL losing ten-straight at one and point while being able to have multiple five-game winning streaks at different points. We saw Couts become a leader both on and off the ice and I’d bet the farm he’s wearing an “A” next season. Ghost and Provorov took serious strides as dynamic defensemen for the Flyers. TK came into his own as a scorer and Giroux scored over 100 points. Long-term, the Flyers have a number of young guys that could become the foundation of a successful franchise. Getting to that point, though, is going to be a bumpy ride.Follow @geordo9