Previewing the Metro Division ahead of the 2021-22 NHL regular season. Today's entry: The Philadelphia Flyers.
2021 record and finish: 25-23-8, sixth in East. Missed playoffs.
Coach: Alain Vigneault
Notable additions: Derick Brassard, Martin Jones, Adam Clendening, Keith Yandle, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen
Notable departures: Nolan Patrick, Jakub Voracek, Brian Elliott, Robert Hagg, Philippe Myers, Shayne Gostisbehere
Schedule against the Capitals:
@ Washington, 7 p.m., Sat. Nov. 6
@ Philadelphia, 7 p.m., Tue. Dec. 21
@ Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m., Sat. Feb. 26
@ Washington, 7:00 p.m., Tue. April 12
Outlook: The Flyers were certainly big spenders in the offseason as the team made big moves on the blue line, and shipped out one of their faces of the franchise.
On the blue line, the Flyers traded away young defenseman Philippe Myers and former No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick to bring in one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL. They then added Rasmus Ristolainen for a high price and brought in Keith Yandle after his buyout.
Philadelphia sent Jakub Voracek to Columbus in return for Cam Atkinson to help boost its offense.
Now, the Flyers have geared themselves up for a run at the playoffs — and it’s hard not to be a little bullish on them entering the 2021-22 season.
Biggest question: As always with the Flyers, it starts and ends in net.
The Flyers have other questions, sure, like how their new-look defense will blend together, or how the new faces on offense will produce in front of them, but in net, they may have major issues.
Last season, Carter Hart posted just a .877 save percentage after two seasons with a .917 and .914. His new backup, Martin Jones, has posted three straight seasons with a save percentage of .896. If the Flyers can’t solve their woes in net, none of the additions they made up front will matter much.
Expectations: It’s easy to see a bounceback for Hart in 2021-22. Not only is there evidence he can be a better goaltender than he showed last year, but the Flyers took fairly drastic steps to improve the play in front of him.
With improved play in net, and a stronger defense up front, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that the Flyers will be better than they were a year ago.
The question comes down to just how good that goaltending can be, because if they get even average play from their goalie duo, they’ll be smack in the middle of contending in the East Division.