A Philadelphia Flyers postmortem
After the NHL began its playoffs, I briefly thought the Flyers could win the Stanley Cup. They secured the top seed in the East during the round robin, and looked strong doing it. But as they started the series versus the Canadiens, my confidence flagged.
It wasn’t so much that Philadelphia had trouble putting away an underdog Montreal team. It was because when I watched some of these other squads, including from the Western Conference, they just seemed so much better overall. Deeper, with veteran leadership and experience.
So I was not at all surprised that the Flyers fell to the Islanders. Despite having not nearly as good a regular season as Philly, the Isles are built for the playoffs. They have a great general manager in Lou Lamoriello, who won several Cups with New Jersey, and a tremendous coach in Barry Trotz, who guided Washington to the Cup in 2018. The Islanders also gave up a lot to get the prize of the trading deadline, center J.G. Pageau, and he’s been worth it.
Should the Flyers have managed to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and squeeze past New York in Game 7, a really good Tampa Bay team awaited them anyway, one with way too many weapons.
A missed opportunity?
Some of the Flyers fans who posted comments were pretty upset the team lost, and considered it a wasted opportunity. Anytime you make the playoffs and don’t come home with the ultimate prize it’s technically a missed opportunity. And Philadelphia did own the No. 1 seed for the first time in 20 years, so to bow out after the quarterfinals kind of hurts.
But you can see how much further they need to go by watching the Islanders-Lightning series. Tampa Bay is a much more formidable opponent for New York than the Flyers were.
Philly made great strides this year under first-year coach Alain Vigneault, and I’m very optimistic for the future. Now it’s time to take the next steps necessary to be a serious, perennial Stanley Cup contender.