As the Flyers hit the final stretch of the regular season, there is still a good chance that the team can squeeze their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The immediate goal is to always make the playoffs, but if they fail to make it this year, it is not so bad.
The Flyers came into this season with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty. They had missed the playoffs for only the 10th time since their 1967 existence, and because of this, there were some serious changes made. Not only on the ice, but also in the front office.
Former Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall, the General Manager of the team, is only in his second year as the man in charge of making trades, signing free agents, and drafting new players. The trades Hextall made at the trade deadline last season expressed his interest for developing the young prospects.
Draft prospects Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are more than exceeding expectations in the junior league. Provorov had 73 points in 62 WHL games, giving him the teams Most Valuable Player award. Konecny had a whopping 101 points in only 60 OHL games. The future is bright.
Hextall is also responsible for bringing in new head coach Dave Hakstol during the off-season. Hakstol, in his first year not only with a new team, but as a professional coach, is keeping the Flyers in the playoff race. This is a good sign for the Flyers as they have exceeded expectations during this transitional year. This is an even better sign for the Flyers future, as Hextall lets the young prospects develop into the players that could potentially change the game. The fans have already been treated with seeing the play of 22 year-old rookies Nick Cousins and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Nick Cousins, who was a 2011 3rd round draft pick acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Jeff Carter trade, has 8 points in 25 games. He provides tremendous amounts of hustle and energy on the 3rd line.
Shayne Gostisbehere, a 2012 3rd round pick out of Union College, has been one of the most exciting players to watch all season as he makes an attempt to win the Calder trophy, which is the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. With a remarkable 39 points in 52 games, “the Ghost” has given this Flyers team a huge boost not only on the blue line, but also on the teams first power-play unit. Gostisbehere has also set the record for the longest point streak by an NHL defenseman at 15 games.
With the new coach, rookies, and a tremendous amount of prospects in the Flyers farm system, Hextall is setting the stage for an exciting future. Given this seasons expectations, if the Flyers do not make the playoffs this year, the initial sting will not be as painful because fans have something to look forward to in the years to come.
In the meantime, the Flyers look ahead to tonight’s matchup in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders as they attempt to make a push for the playoffs. Steve Mason is in goal for the Flyers. Puck drop is at 7:30pm.