Now that teams are preparing for playoffs, we'll review the seasons of teams as they're eliminated from playoff contention (followed by those as they're eliminated from the playoffs.) Obviously, the last team reviewed will be the one that wins the Cup.
Now the next team to be eliminated from playoff contention: The Philadelphia Flyers
Our prediction: We figured that the Philadelphia Flyers would be on the bubble and perhaps missing the playoffs altogether. Though the forwards looked good and the defense looked like it would work, we were concerned about consistency in the crease
The truth: They were one of the first five teams from the Eastern Conference to be eliminated from playoff contention. They'll probably be neck-and-neck with the New Jersey Devils as to whom finishes where.
So what happened?: To give the Flyers some credit, they certainly had some bright spots both up front and on the blueline. Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn offered quality production up front while Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto were capable point producers from the blueline. However, the other guys who were expected to put points up (namely Vincent LeCavalier and R.J. Umberger) were nowhere to be found while Andrew MacDonald got a nice contract in the off-season to be an average (and unspectacular) shutdown defender. Matt Read wasn't exactly terrible, but he was expected to produce a bit more than he did this year. Same could be said for Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossman, who are paid handsomely but can barely muster .2 PPG production. While Steve Mason was able to contain the team's defensive deficiencies, Ray Emery and Rob Zepp were not able to carry the load as effectively in Mason's absence (which occurred due to injuries.) Once Wayne Simmonds broke his leg, however, the writing was on the wall.
So what's next?: Frankly, things look like they're going to get worse before they get better. The team's still stuck with Umberger's and LeCavalier's contracts for at least the next few seasons (barring a buyout) while they don't exactly have a whole lot of wiggle room to re-sign Michael Del Zotto to a nice raise or bring promising offensive forward Petr Straka up to the main roster. While this is now GM Ron Hextall's team, he's not going to expect a pass simply for his role in Flyers' lore (and from the way it sounds, isn't expecting one, either.) Though the onus of blame may not fall entirely on Craig Berube, he's not going to have a whole lot of slack going forward, either. Can they find ways to either move underperforming pieces off the squad or get them to work to their advantage, or will they be stuck with ineffective components for the foreseeable future?