Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Couturier has been such an integral part of the Flyers this season.

So, it’s only right that he got a little bit of love league-wide on Wednesday when he was announced as a finalist for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the best two-way forward in the NHL.

Couturier has long been just on the outskirts of this award, and has finally cracked the top three in voting, joining stalwarts in this category Patrtice Bergeron of Boston and Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles.

It’s a credit to Couturier, who had a breakout offensive season to go along with his excellent defensive play as a shutdown forward.

Wait… what’s that? There was something else that happened last night involving the Flyers? Really? Did I miss it? What was it? A playoff game? Stop. You’re pulling my leg. There was playoff hockey played in Philadelphia last night? Seriously, am I on the Carbonaro Effect? Where are the hidden cameras? I want to see a magic trick!

No, you’re not kidding? There was a game last night? What happened? Anything? Oh, I didn’t miss much. The Flyers were blown out by the Penguins again? Oh, right, right, right. That’s what that sound was. It sounded like something sucking the life out of the city was emanating from the Sports complex. I tried to stay away so I wouldn’t turn into a zombie.

Yeah people, the Flyers played another playoff game yesterday – and, as per usual, it wasn’t pretty.

Couturier, who was in fact named a finalist for the Selke, did not play after nearly being annihilated by teammate Radko Gudas in practice on Tuesday.

And he left a gaping hole in the lineup.

That said, while it was incredibly noticeable that Couturier was not in the lineup, even if he were, the Flyers likely would have been rolled over by the Penguins.

The final score was 5-0. It’s a pretty common theme betwixt these two teams this season. The Penguins have scored at least five goals in seven of the eight games against the Flyers. The Flyers have scored just one goal or none five of the eight times.

This is as lopsided as it gets.

The fact that the Flyers actually won Game 2 of this series is now a total aberration. An outlier. A chance event.

Because it has become painfully obvious they don’t belong on the same ice as the Penguins.

And talent-level does have something to do with it.

The Penguins are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. They have a lot of top-end talent, and the best player in the game in Sidney Crosby – who scored his fifth goal of the series last night, and has now scored on each of the three goalies who have seen action for the Flyers – Brian Elliott, Petr Mrazek and Michal Neuvirth.

Meanwhile, the Flyers are still an up-and-coming team with a lot of young players getting their first taste of playoff action.

So, it’s fair to say the Flyers were always going to be underdogs in this series. It’s fair to say that you knew coming in, they probably weren’t going to beat the Penguins four times.

But, in the very least, you hoped for competitive, playoff hockey, and something to build on as the Flyers rebuild inches along the incredibly slow path that Ron Hextall has forged during his tenure as general manager.

And you aren’t getting that.

That’s the greatest indictment of this team. They are not competitive when the games matter most.

Sure, they have stretches, but as soon as any adversity faces them, they turtle up and never re-emerge.

It’s strange, because it’s a little opposite from the regular season. Sure, they are a streaky regular season team and when things are bad, they snowball, but the Flyers made their bones in 2017-18 as being a team that doesn’t quit, that doesn’t stop trying.

It’s why there were so many one-goal games – or two-goal games with an empty netter. It’s why they went to overtime a league-leading 24 times this season.

But come playoffs, when all teams kick it into a higher gear, under Dave Hakstol’s stewardship as coach, the Flyers continue to drop the clutch.

Consider this:

Dave Hakstol has now coached 10 playoff games with the Flyers. In those 10 games:

  • His record is 3-7.
  • The Flyers have scored more than two goals just once (Game 2 in Pittsburgh).
  • They have been shutout four times.
  • They have been outscored in the seven losses 30-3.

Think about that last one for a minute – in 70% of the playoff games Dave Hakstol has coached, his team is being outscored 10-1.

That, in fact, was the goal differential of the two home playoff losses to the Penguins this week – 10-1.

I’d say, this is a trend that should send up the biggest red flags.

Because I don’t care how good the Penguins are, this is the playoffs. No NHL team is 10 times better at than the worst team in the league in the regular season, never mind the playoffs.

But the Flyers, under Hakstol, get obliterated in the playoffs.

The fans see it. I see it. My colleagues in the media see it. But Ron Hextall doesn’t see it. Or if he does, he doesn’t want to address it.

Hextall believes in Hakstol. I don’t see why, but he does.

Not that he wants to tell us why:

Now, the GM does not have to speak to the media. That is his right. So, the complaint isn’t that he declined, but rather he declined under the circumstances.

Here’s a team that is getting its ass handed to them on home ice in the playoffs. The players sound dejected. The coach has no answers. The fans are irate. This is the time you do say something. This is the opportunity to say something publicly that could turn your team around – that could give it the motivation and momentum it needs to pull of a would-be miracle comeback at this point.

But he chose not to. He chose to politely decline until a more appropriate time.

No wonder the team is so milquetoast.

We don’t need to get into the specifics of last night – just know it was bad. Here’s the quick synopsis:

First Period.

  • Matt Read takes a penalty. Team is already without Couturier. Matchup of Flyers PK vs. Pens PP was terrible enough as it was, now without the two best penalty killers for this one? Flyers had no chance. Evgeni Malkin scores on a tic-tac-toe pass from Phil Kessel and Crosby. 1-0 Penguins.
  • The Flyers have sustained pressure for several minutes in the Penguins end, working the crowd into a frenzy. They don’t score though and quickly the Pens come the other way on a 2-on-1 (off a turnover) and Kessel beats Elliott 5-hole – on a shot Elliott should have stopped. That makes it 2-0.

Second Period.

  • Flyers go into a shell. Basically wave the white Flag. They score two more times – on two goalies, since the Flyers pulled Elliott in favor of Neuvirth. It’s now 4-0.

Third period.

  • Frankly wasn’t playing close attention. In fact, nobody was. So, when the Penguins scored again, nobody was even shocked or upset.

That’s it.

That’s a microcosm of this frustrating and boring team.

It’s really not worth breaking down any further. This performance lies squarely at the feet of the people who put this team together and who coach this team.

There’s nothing else to say about it. No video breakdown. No analytics analysis. No, this player needs to be better or that player should play on this line nonsense.

Nope. None of that.

The players were bad. Terrible even. But they play in the image and style of the coach and GM and that amounts to playoff blowout losses.

This team is not ready for prime time, and as slow-moving as this process is, and as big a disparity as there is between offensive players in their prime and the defense and goaltending still being really young, it’s no longer certain if it truly ever will be, because the window may never really open far enough.

And that’s a damn shame.


37 Responses

  1. Hey Flipper, you might want to retract your ridiculous statement you made earlier this season.
    Flyers have not been relevant since 1975.

    1. In the cup finals in 76, 80, 85, 87, 97, and 2010… yep completely irrelevant since 1975… Shut up and dribble your basketball… Oops you’re a white guy that listens to rap, is liberal, and slobbers over what your tv tells you to.

      1. Flyers are the best losers!

        In my lifetime I have seen the Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Phantoms, Soul, Wings and Villanova all win championships.

        They have not won a playoff series since beating the Penguins 6 years ago. The Penguins have won 2 Stanley Cups. The Flyers lost to the Blackhawks in 2010. The Flyers have won 1 playoff series since then. The Blackhawks have won 2 Stanley Cups.

        The Sixers spent years trying to be the absolute worst team in NBA history. They have won a playoff series more recently than the Flyers.

        1. bahahaha this geek said Villanova, keep bouncing that basketball

          1. Tell us more about the Buffalo Bills of hockey .

            Can you rank your favorite Flyers teams that lost the Stanley Cup? Gotta go with 2010 and then 1987 first.

  2. I would have tried to help the Flyers in the afterlife, but I have enough problems down here in the fiery pits of hell
    —“Mister Snider, Chairman of the Flyers

  3. Copying my comment from the other thread. I don’t blame Matt Read for getting a dumb penalty to start this whole debacle. Reader’s gonna Read. I blame Dave Hakstol for having his FOURTH LINE on the ice in the first 3 minutes of the game! FUCK YOU HAKSTOL. You refuse to adapt, you refuse to improvise, and every time they pan to show your dumb fuck facial expression after the other team scores I want to throw a hatchet through my TV. FIRE HAK

  4. “Meanwhile, the Flyers are still an up-and-coming team with a lot of young players” We’ve had six years and counting since our last playoff series win to fix that problem. The sheep fans think Hextall i s above questioning. His “just wait we’ll be good someday” approach isn’t working. This core needed broken up about three years ago.

  5. You cannot go any longer with MacDonald and Manning . You can blame the goalie rightfully so. He was awful again giving up soft goals. But he’s not a game changing goalie. No one thought he was. You have to put competent D men in front and this idiot coach is for some reason fixated on those two. Didn’t he call MacDonald a top tier D man? What the hell is he watching? Because all I see is turnover after turnover and no ability to stop a rush. Manning just sucks.

  6. I had more faith in Hextall to fix Holmgren’s mistakes, but Hakstol is a disaster, he’s not bad with the younger players, but he’s getting jack shit out of the team and goaltending. I wanted him to succeed, seemed like an ok guy, and I want Hextall to be successful as well.. but I’m startin to get real fed up with the organ-eye-zation.

    1. I screamed at the top of my lungs to trade G, all I got told by fellow Flyers fans was that I know nothing about hockey and that it’s about the stuff he does ‘away from the play’… I fucking LOVE being right all the time.

      1. Giroux is a Hart trophy candidate with 103 points this year. What exactly were you right about? So stupid it hurts to watch.

      2. Claude Giroux scored 102 points this season and is arguably one of the most impactful players in this game dating back to 2010-11. I don’t see how trading our best player would have helped us, but hey I didn’t get arrested for drunk driving and forced to coach a kids hockey team for community service..

  7. Sorry I’m going on a bit of a rant here and answer whatever you feel you can I just enjoy your perspective and frank answers. I’ve asked you before about the coach and we’ve both agreed he’s inept, but how does he escape this and more importantly other than hiding from the media how can Hextall sit and say he’s done a good job? As you said everyone else can see this coach is in over head, but is Hextall seriously going to give a post mortem and tell everyone that the coach did a good job and everything is okay with this team. Maybe use the Couturier injury and potentially Elliott not being healthy as an excuse, which would be an absolute joke. This process is moving too slowly and making the playoffs and being a middling team isn’t helping especially if Hextall thinks building through the draft is the answer because drafting in the high teens and mid 20s isn’t the way to get grade A prospects. Even if you do hit on the prospect generally at those picks they take several years before they are ready and you have an already aging core of players. I haven’t been a fan of Hextall for a while now given his trade history, free agent signings and hiring of this coach, but at this point I’m perplexed because I don’t even see light at the end of the tunnel. This just appears to be a giant mess right now.

    1. I don’t think it’s a giant mess – the Flyers do have some nice prospects coming in the next year or two. And I give Hextall credit for drafting well, because he has.
      I think his timing is off though… He needed to have the pieces in place for the prime of Giroux and Voracek’s careers, and he’s wasting those. By the time the next wave is NHL ready, they’ll be on the downside.
      Granted they hit the lottery with Patrick and had some great scouting to identify Morgan Frost is going to be a LOT better than everyone else thought, so maybe those are the guys ultimately who lead this team, and not Giroux and Voracek.
      But Frost is at least two years away. Same with Carter Hart in goal.
      What’s the plan until then? And it’s not like they can be expected to step on NHL ice and carry a team… they’ll need time to find their pro legs themselves.
      As for Hakstol, that’s Hextall’s weakness. Remember, Hakstol coached Hextall’s son in college. There’s a bond that goes back several years before he came to the Flyers.
      And the reason their feet aren’t being held to the fire is because Ed Snider is no longer with us. Was he over-reactionary sometimes as an owner? Yes. But he also kept everybody on their toes. He wouldn’t accept complacency – or embarrassment like this series.
      Dave Scott, who has that role now, is a cable executive. He’s not passionate about winning.
      And Paul Holmgren, who is president, loves Hexy and they have a close bond that goes back 30 years. So, he’s not going to put additional pressure on Hextall.
      It’s such a low key environment there now, that people have gotten too comfortable in their jobs.
      That’s the biggest issue.
      There’s a lot to work with here. The Flyers aren’t as far away as it seems, but they have the wrong coach, a too-patient GM and not enough high-demands in executive management.
      That’s the wrong formula for hockey success.

      1. I think that the poor timing is my main frustration other than the current coaching situation. I realize some players have potential to be very good in the pipeline, but if they aren’t as good as the organization expected (Sam Morin) and our current core is too old we are basically back to square one. I know it’s a pipe dream, but if either Tavares or Karlsson got to UFA I’d unload a dump truck of money to get either one and make this team instantly better.

      2. As someone from the outside looking in, I completely agree with this and it is validating to hear from someone with inside access. The organization is way too content with the status quo and the rebuild is taking way too long. All the evidence you need is the fact that the flyers brass has not been able to field a competent, let alone competitive, 2nd line in 6 years. It should not take that long. Look at Boston- they started their rebuild after ours and they’re already serious contenders again. We are not. Is scouting the problem?

  8. It’s one thing to be out-talented by the two-time defending Cup champ. And, okay, you get outcoached because your coach isn’t really up to the task at hand. BUT…the listless, zombie-like demeanor of this team in a playoff game is unacceptable. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are easily the best championship series in all of sports because the INTENSITY of the games. Not with this team. That Hextall–who went after Chelios at the end of one memorable losing playoff effort–can sit and watch this without comment is unbelievable. My hope is that he’s so angry he’s afraid he’ll say something he’ll later regret.

    1. That game last night was like a regular season game in November – even before there was a score.

  9. Well he has been a ghost of himself in the playoff’s. G is a great player, has been, will continue to be one. The problem that has yet to be addressed by the organization is pairing him with players that are also great. G cannot beat another team on his own, short of Crosby, no one can in the modern game can – and i say that understanding that Crosby has the, arguably, the best power forward in the league along side of him in Malkin. Simmonds is very good, but not great and he is injured right now. Voracheck never will be that guy. As much as this club, it’s leadership, and its ‘briliant’ fan base wants him to be. Not happening. He should have been traded at top value when he was an All Star.

    The underlying fact here is that the flyers have not addressed three things since 2010/11:
    1. A solid, game winning, reliable, non siv, GOALIE — hell I would just take a reliable one at this point.
    2. Support cast to help G and do the “little things away from the puck” that G should not be doing
    3. Weak, rotating defense, without a leader (Hextall, if nothing else please use your LA connections to snag Doughty)

    1. re: #3 – Part of the problem is that the Defense has a “leader” who’s name is MacDonald. The guy is a scrub and the fact that he wears an A is a disgrace. The guy cleared fucking waivers last season, he objectively sucks. Only playing next to Manning makes him look remotely competent.

  10. while I don’t get the “fire the coach” BS that is constantly the narrative after a bad game, series, season, whatever, and the coach is partly to blame, but is the guy coaching the Penguins all that great? Or his talent that much better? I mean, Giroux has been ok, but Simmonds and Vorachek, two of the top scorers have been less than invisible. The next top scorer gets hurt by friendly fire. The Flyers are just not good enough to compete at this level. I thought that last year, especially watching the finals between Nashville and the Pens, and I still think it now. All of these so called “up and comers”, how good are they really, and how much gas is left in the tank of our top 3/4 guys? The Flyers have needed a decent goalie for years, and they still haven’t really addressed it, but yeah,. lets just fire the coach and everything will be ok.

    1. Nolan Patrick is going to be a great player.
      Travis Konecny is going to be a great player.
      Travis Sanheim is going to be a great player.
      Ivan Provorov is a great player.

      The timing is the biggest concern, but my belief is that Giroux and Voracek can remain and be viable when the window really opens in a few years, but they can’t be expected to carry the mail. More than just role players, but not your top end talent, think what Hossa was for Chicago.

      I’ve been a fan of Hextall’s patient approach and his drafting has been excellent, but now is the time where he needs to start making the right moves in free agency, offseason trades, and eventually deadline deals to both use and add to the prospect pipeline he’s been so patient in rebuilding. And in my opinion, it starts with trading Simmonds at the draft while he still has some value to a contending team looking to add a bottom 6 winger and improve their PP.

  11. Talent level has ALWAYS had something to do with it when it comes to the Flyers in the last 20 years. They don’t have the talent to be a premier playoff hockey contender. Giroux had one great playoff run in a how-many-years career. ONE! Great regular season this year, but once again a no-show in the playoffs. The FIRST round of the playoffs. Not an elite player, period.

    Sean Couturier. A great season, finally. A great second game. But that’s it. He’s never been on the outskirts of being considered a top-of-the-league two-way forward. NEVER. Not an elite player, period.

    Goaltending: Hahahhahahahahahahahahaha …. what year is it, you say? Oh, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same year every year. This franchise has no clue when it comes to matching talent and goaltending.

    They Flyers finally have some young talent, but they’re still very young and may wind up being average players in the long run. Hard to say. But they can’t be called upon to carry your team in the playoffs at this point. And certainly no one else on this team can.

    They’re just not good enough. The talent evaluation has been abysmal for this front office going on two decades!

    I’ve always said the Philadelphia Flyers are much more concerned with creating Flyers Nation and promoting a Flyers Family than with actually putting a great team on the ice that can challenge for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

    I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Same ol’ same ol’. Nothing to see here.

    Keep filling the seats and yawlp on and on about what gritty players they have. All heart. What an effort! Let’s kick some ass.

    Really? Where has that gotten this franchise and its leming fans? 43 freakin’ years of nothing.


  12. Murray is just the latest goalie to show how much goaltending matters in the playoffs. Hextall knows that and knew the answer wasn’t in the organization when he started and without the cap flexibility needed to buy one, he went about the process of drafting one. Carter Hart looks to be that piece hopefully. In the mean time, he has done two things to set up long term success of the team: stockpile talent in the pipeline (TK, all the defensemen, Patrick, Lindblom, half a dozen or so prospects that could make the next step and depth in Lehigh) and create cap flexibility by slowly getting rid of the glut of bad contracts. Progress is being made, have to have a longer view than this year’s playoffs against a team with a huge gap of talent to see that.
    What he sold to ownership in the mean time was the ability to put something around the core group of vets they had so they could compete/look like they’re competing and not waste the in-between years of G, Voracek, etc., with all out losing seasons.
    Playoffs this year was a step forward, Hakstol is fine unless a proven winner of a coach is available and Hexstall can pull the trigger. Otherwise, he keeps backing Hak while maybe finding his replacement.

  13. I remember a time – not too long ago – that if the Flyers were getting their collective asses kicked – there would be a physical cost to the other team…a relentless pounding. More penalties? – who the hell cares…they were already down big on the scoreboard. At least MAKE A STATEMENT!!!

    This team? – they just sulk until the final buzzer sounds.


  14. Hexy needs 5-6 years to rebuild… what GM wouldn’t eventually have success with that much time? Why do some teams only need a couple of years? And how the f is Vegas a Cup contender in its first year of existence?

    A lot of it has to do with the head coach and assistants and their ability to develop as well as push the veterans to lead. This team’s playoff performance is a direct reflection on the coach. They simply aren’t invested in him. I’ve nevr got the sense that they highly respect him. You never hear these players raving about their coach.

  15. I’ve been saying it for years. The Flyers management and coaching is like a lodge of good buddies that just get together and reminisce about all the good times. There’s too much camaraderie and no accountability. Snider always brought in his guys and there was very rarely any kind of outside perspective. Now, Comcast could give two craps about the Flyers, so they are more than happy to ice a mediocre team – as long as the building keeps selling out and revenue keeps streaming in. On top of that, you’ve got Holmgren at the top of the food chain making decisions, who is about as orange-and-black home-grown as it gets. And lets not forget – he’s a large reason the team is still tryin to dig out of the whole they are in now anyway. So now you’ve got Holmgren, who is super chummy with our GM, Ron Hextall. Again – zero accountability. This is business. Personal relationships can’t be part of the decision-making process. On top of that, the GM hires a totally inexperienced coach who looks totally lost because – again, he had a personal relationship with him in him coaching his son. And how does Ian Lapierierre still have a job?!? Our penalty kill has been putrid under him, but he still collects a paycheck because, again, he took a puck to the face as a player and represents what it means to be a Flyer. Give me a break. It’s like one big circle jerk at the SkateZone. Until they bring in some outsiders that can give unbiased opinions and move and hold people accountable within the organ-ni-zation, this team will remain an embarrassment.

  16. I love these replies by lemming Flyers fans:

    “The coach sucks!” He certainly may. He probably does. But then every coach the Flyers have had in more than 20 years have sucked I guess. It’s the talent on the ice people. The Flyers have NEVER had enough talent since the mid-1990s. Just the facts, maam.

    “The coach should be fired!” He certainly may. He probably does deserve to be fired. But how does that account for the fact that this team’s supposed “stars” get pretty much completely shut out in every game of this series sans one? Almost EVERY f’in’ game! Oooh, I know … not enough talent. Overrated players, period. It’s the same excuses every year.

    “We lost because of the goaltending!” Yeah, the goaltending sucks on this team and has for countless years. But, once again, how does that account for the fact that this team’s supposed “stars” get pretty much completely shut out in every game in this series sans one? Almost EVERY f’in’ game! Sorry, the worst goaltenders in creation don’t cause a complete lack of results on the offensive side of the puck. You know what does? Lack of talent. The Flyers have that in spades.

    It’s Ground Hog Day here in Flyers nation. “Fire the coach!” “Our goaltender sucks!” “No defense!” Lemmings I tell you. You’re all lemmings.

    Blind and dumb.

  17. When Hextall took over and told us he would be rebuilding the organization from the ground up, through the draft first, I prepared myself for a five year plan. I also knew at times it would be pretty but this is year three. My thought was draft first, trades/free agents when some of the dead weight Homer left on the roster was gone. That should be next year, as Filpula, MacDonald and others will come off, joining others Hextall has already jettisoned. From everything I can tell, Hextall has really stocked the cupboard in terms of young talent through the draft and we will also see that continue to come in, to join the likes of Patrick, Provorov ..etc. Once Carter Hart is here, which in my opinion should be next year, we will have our anchor at each spot on D, up front and in goal. One or two of the core will be traded ..most likely Simmonds and pieces will be added around the youth with guys like Giroux and Vorachek playing the role of experienced veterans. Year four was the year I felt I would need to see some serious movement and they are still on track for that …one thing that scares me tho, is the coach. I was a fan of his in the beginning but he is looking overmatched well into his third year and that is not a good sign. As for the lack of fight, that is whole ‘nother topic, as I believe the league is slowing killing itself with the way it has the refs calling the games. Granted, no other team is getting dismantled quite as bad as the Flyers but I’ve watched a lot of the other games, as well, and the NHL playoffs are turning into a skills competition instead of the battle of will it usually is …emotion and physicality are down across the league as a whole.

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