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Archive for the ‘Flyers’ Category

Mistaken impression

Posted by Eric Fisher On May - 19 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

The disappointment still hasn’t worn off. The Sixers and Flyers both made valiant stands when they were on the brink of elimination, but we are still left with an empty feeling after their elimination.

With the Sixers, there is consternation over Ben Simmons’ jump shot, Markelle Fultz’s inability to even get on the court and the Sixers’ propensity for making mistakes at critical moments. Some blame the players’ inexperience for the crucial mistakes. Others blame head coach Brett Brown.

But perhaps the search for someone to blame is the result of raised expectations. Many people expected the Sixers to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, and some predicted they would advance all the way to the NBA Finals. Few were bold enough to predict an NBA Championship, but perhaps those raised expectations distorted our view of the Sixers.

Simmons had never played an NBA game before last season. Embiid had only played 31 games. Saric was starting his second NBA season. These players have a lot of time to grow.

Similarly, the Flyers have a lot of players in the early stages of their NHL careers. Ivan Provorov, the Flyers’ best defenseman, just finished his second season. Provorov is 21. Robert Hagg, 23, was a rookie this season. Shayne Gostisbehere was in his third season.

And that’s just the defense. Center Nolan Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, won’t turn 20 until September. Travis Konecny, with two seasons under his belt, is 21. Even Sean Couturier, who took a giant step up in class this year, is only 25. And the Flyers figure to get even younger next season with Travis Sanheim expected to fill a regular spot on defense, with Sam Morin possibly joining him.

Although there was concern about the Flyers’ goaltending during the playoffs and a propensity for turnovers against the Penguins that may have exceeded the Sixers’ similar tendency during their series with the Celtics, there is the reality that not many people expected the Flyers to get past the Penguins in the first round.

Although the Flyers’ and Sixers’ situations differ in terms of playoff expectations, they are similar in that the fans are becoming increasingly impatient.

The Flyers haven’t won’t a playoff series since the 2011-12 season. In the six seasons since that last series victory, the Flyers have missed the playoffs three times and lost in the first round three times, including this season.

The Sixers also hadn’t won a playoff series since the 2011-12 season. Their dismal performance in the years between that appearance and their first-round victory over the Heat this year is all too familiar. The Sixers became the laughingstock of the NBA. Their win total declined to 34, 19, 18 and 10 before rebounding to 28 during the 2016-17 season.

After being amazingly patient during the awful years of “The Process,” which took much too long, perhaps it’s understandable that Sixers’ fans are impatient. They are hungry for success. And the Sixers were so close this season that they could taste it.

But the Sixers won 52 games this season, their highest total since the 2000-01 season. This season represented tremendous progress. Although the ending was disappointing, by no means should the Sixers season be considered a disappointment.

The Flyers improved by 10 points over the previous season. Their 98 points are the most they’ve had since the 2011-12 season, when they last won a playoff series. The manner in which they lost to the Penguins was disappointing, and Flyers fans can’t be faulted for being impatient for postseason success, but this past season should not be considered a disappointment.

As difficult as it can be at times, fans need to be patient with the Flyers and Sixers, both of which are going through a youth movement. Both teams took major strides forward last season. The endings were disappointing, but fans of both teams have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Reasons the Flyers lost

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 23 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Why were the Flyers eliminated by the Penguins? PhillyPhanatics.com provides the Top 10 reasons for their first-round exit.

10. The officiating  This is far from the top of the list, and it may sound like sour grapes, but the Flyers won Game 5 despite lopsided officiating and were hurt by silent whistles toward the end of Game 6. The Flyers had more phantom penalties called against them during Game 5 than actual penalties assessed to the Penguins. In Game 6, with the Flyers trailing 5-4, Kris Letang got away with a two-hand swing at Sean Couturier, taking his legs out from under him, which led directly to the Penguins’ 6th goal. This was followed during the final 7 minutes by a missed icing call and a non-call on a blatant cross-check to Couturier at center ice. The Flyers didn’t lose because of the officiating, but it took away an opportunity for the Flyers to redeem themselves.

9. Injuries The Penguins also had injuries to key players, but having the best two-way forward (Sean Couturier) and defenseman (Ivan Provorov) playing Game 6 with significant injuries, after Couturier was sidelined for Game 4 and played hurt during Game 5, certainly affected the Flyers. Perhaps we should throw Wayne Simmonds, who many suspected is injured, in this category as well.

8. Radko Gudas It’s unfair to define Gudas’ entire series by his costly turnovers in Game 6 — he was a minus-1 for the series and stuck up for Claude Giroux in Game 6 — but it wouldn’t be right to leave those game-changing blunders out, either.

7. The power play The Flyers were 2 for 21 on the power play. That’s not going to get the job done against any team, let alone the Penguins.

6. Shayne Gostisbehere The winner of the Barry Ashbee Award as the Flyers’ top defenseman was a minus-8 for the series and produced just one goal and 0 assists.

5. Goaltending It was unrealistic to think the Flyers would have the edge in goaltending against the Penguins’ Matt Murray, but the Flyers trio of Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth and Petr Mrazek could have at least made it close.

4. Top players disappear Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds combined for 1 goal in 6 games.

3. Giroux an imperfect 10 Claude Giroux gets his own spot on the list. Not only did the Flyers’ regular-season MVP — and a contender for NHL MVP — score just one goal during the series, but he was a minus-10.

2.  Turnovers The Flyers turned the puck over much too often in the neutral zone and their defensive zone.

1. Penguins are better The Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the top of their lineup. Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and Jake Guentzel highlight the next level of stars. The Penguins have deep lines, a better-than-expected defense and Matt Murray in goal.

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