Farewell to the Flyers
The continuation of a series where Fanspeak says goodbye to the teams that have been eliminated.
Although the Eastern Conference Finals match-up hasn't been set yet, it's time to say goodbye (belatedly) to the Philadelphia Flyers, who proved that match-ups mean everything. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers scored a league-high 30 goals and averaged 27.5 shots per game. But, in five games against the Devils, they scored just 11 goals, and after getting 36 shots in winning Game 1, they averaged just 24.5 shots per game over the final four games. (S/t NHL.com for the stats.)
Overall, the Flyers averaged 3.73 goals per game during the playoffs, but just 2.2 against the Devils (after averaging five per game against the Penguins) — and scored fewer goals (seven) combined over the course of the series' final four games (all losses) than they did in both game two and three against the Penguins, when they scored eight goals per game.
Furthermore, Claude Giroux and Danny Briere are still the leading point-getters in the league — but their offense dipped against the Devils. Giroux registered six goals and eight assists against Pittsburgh but just two goals and one assist against New Jersey (in four games, since he was suspended for game five). Briere was a little more consistent: he had five goals and three assists against the Pens and three goals and two assists against the Devils.
All in all, the Devils' strength on defense and in goal — in addition to their consistent offense and ability to rattle the Flyers — turned this series into a rout fairly quickly. The two teams split six regular-season meetings, but this playoff series showed that the Flyers had more flaws than they exhibited against the Penguins.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, previous problems will continue into the off-season. They're still shaky in goal and on defense, and while their offense and power play are extremely strong, their psyche is not. They've also got to be concerned with the fact that captain Chris Pronger has missed so much time. He's signed through 2016-17 at nearly $5 million per season, so that eats up a lot of cap space. Defensemen Pavel Kubina and Matt Carle are unrestricted free agents as well.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was a disappointment in the playoffs — and he's signed through the 2019-20 season at $5.67 million per year, so clearly the Flyers need to find a way to get more out of their investment.
It's going to be another interesting off-season in the City of Brotherly Love.