There’s no need to eulogize this Flyers season. They overachieved, made it into the playoffs, and got completely outclassed by the best team in hockey. The fact that the series went six games, and nearly even seven, is incredible. Credit to Dave Hakstol for finding a way to keep the Capitals’ firepower harnessed mostly to outside shots and clear shooting lanes, allowing the Flyers to stay in every game except for Game 3.
But it was obvious that the Flyers are exactly one offensive scoring line – a second line – and a few defenders away from being a great team. I’ve said it all year, and had to “hear it” from Type OBs when they surged for a month, but the fact is you can’t have guys like Michael Raffl, Sam Gagner and Matt Read counted on as scoring output. The lack of scoring depth makes the first-line talent – Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek – too easy to stop. The juxtaposition between the Flyers and Capitals was most clear yesterday when, at one end of the ice, Alex Ovechkin let loose a blistering snap shot that nearly handcuffed Michal Neuvirth – the same shot that did handcuff Steve Mason earlier in the series – and, at the other, Read muffed an easy cross-ice one-time opportunity. Sure, it might be unfair to compare Read to maybe the best scorer on the planet, but when he (Read) is one of the guys on whom you’re counting to convert your limited scoring chances – on the power play, along with Ryan White, Nick Cousins, Sam Ganger and Mark Streit – it’s reasonable to acknowledge just how wide the chasm is between the Flyers’ scoring lines and those of a great hockey team. The Capitals’ talent level is the target for which the Flyers need to aim in rebuilding. They’re headed in the right direction– they just have a little way to go yet.
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