• Andrew McGuinness

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 73: MTL 3, PHI 1 - When the Fat Goalie Sings

What do you do when the math just doesn't add up?

It what is likely the final nail in the Flyers playoff coffin, the Philadelphia Flyers lose, 3-1, to Le Montreál Canadiens. Not only does this loss come in regulation against a team ahead of them in the standings, but it limits the Flyers maximum point potential to just 96. Last year, the Florida Panthers finished with that same number, one point shy of the playoffs (Columbus and New Jersey had 97; the Flyers had 98). While it's not set in stone yet that the Flyers will miss the playoffs, it is very likely that door has already been slammed shut.

So this article isn't going to focus too much on the game. In case you're interested, here's what happened. Once again, the Flyers came out flat, but Carter Hart played well. Brendan Gallagher finished off a strong first period for Montreal with a rebound goal in front. Early in the second, Shea Weber extended the lead with a bomb from the point that Carter Hart never saw coming. Sean Couturier got one back in the 3rd, snapping an 0-15 skid for the Flyers power play. But Philly was never able to get the equalizing tally, and Max Domi (son of Tie) tucked home the empty-netter to finish the game off.

This game had a much different feel then the last time the Flyers lost. When the Flyers blew that 5-2 lead on Friday night in Toronto, it was a night of frusturation and venting. Despite their recent hot streak, there has been a lot to complain about this Flyers season. Another slow start to a season. Ineffective special teams for half a season. A carousel in net. The firing of Ron Hextall. 31 too many games with Dave Hakstol at the helm. An eight game losing streak shortly after Scott Gordon took over. Carter Hart going down to injury. When it rained, it didn't just pour on the 2018-19 Philadelphia Flyers - it sent tsunamis and hurricanes at them at seemingly every turn.

Looking back at the 2018-19 Flyers is destined to fill Flyers fans with heartbreak. All this year will be remembered for is frusturation, another wasted year of the prime of Claude Giroux, and a merciful step towards ridding the organization of the dead weight holding the Flyers back on the ice, behind the bench, and in the front office.

So I have a better idea. Let's not look back.

There is a saying that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to make the same mistakes in the future. But the actions of Chuck Fletcher during his first few months suggest that he's learned from Ron Hextall's flaws. Under his tenure, the Flyers have already ridded themselves of Dave Hakstol, Jori Lehtera, and Dale Weise. Andrew MacDonald may very well follow via a buyout in the offseason. Once he is gone, the Flyers will be free of dead weight. No more albatross contracts. Nothing hold Chuck Fletcher back from making the splash in free agency or on the trade market to put his team over the top.

So instead, let's look to the future. There are countless reasons to be excited about the Philadelphia Flyers, so many that's it hard to pick one to start with. How about the guy that's going to start between the pipes for the next decade plus? If Carter Hart was good enough to thrust this last-place team back into the playoff race and push his name from struggling AHLer in December to Calder candidate in February, imagine what he'll be like next year. And all the years after.

Hart joins a young core that features budding stars such as Ivan Provorov, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, Oskar Lindblom, and Phil Myers, all of whom are 26 or under and are under team control through 2022 (many for even longer). And it's not like they are all alone. Philadelphia boasts one of the NHL's most dangerous 1-2 scoring punches in Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, who will continue to light up the NHL just like they've been doing for the last 8 years. The return of James van Riemsdyk has been a smashing success - JVR already has 25 goals despite missing 16 games.

Reinforcements will be on the way. Thanks to the stellar work of Ron Hextall in scouting and at the draft table, the Flyers possess one of the deepest prospect pools in all of hockey. Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee look like game-changing top-6 forward who could impact the big club as soon as this fall. Other young talents such as Isaac Ratcliffe, Jay O'Brien, Yegor Zamula, and Wade Allison are also on their way. These prospects serve as both potential stars for the team in the near future and trade chips to make significant upgrades for the here and now.

At the end of the day, all Flyers fans want is success. The Flyers have not won a playoff round since the 2012 Eastern Conference Quaterfinals against the Penguins, before I even started watching hockey. It seems crazy to expect, or even think, that a team that will likely miss the playoffs this year could go deep in them as soon as next season.

But why not? Why not us? This is the time where the Flyers have to make their decision as Claude Giroux's contract kicks into the home stretch. Based on his comments and moves, it seems Chuck Fletcher has made the decision to win, and win now. It may not work out. Even for a team as dominant as the Tampa Bay Lightning, the odds to win the Stanley Cup are still well under 50%. But that's what makes hockey so great. Any team can come out of anywhere and surprise the league in the blink of an eye.

For years, the Flyers have been lurking in the shadows, making their moves, watching some teams rise and others crash and burn right in front of them. Now, it is the Flyers turn to step up to the plate. The veterans are there. The young core is there. The prospects and picks are there. All that's left to do is fill in the final pieces to the puzzle, however big or small, to put the Philadelphia Flyers back on the map once and for all.

Are. You. Ready?