jakub voracek

Talks of one-man show, the core illustrate trying times for Flyers

Talks of one-man show, the core illustrate trying times for Flyers

Sunday was not a pretty day at the Wells Fargo Center.

The scene on the ice was unbecoming and the postgame vibe felt worse.

These are not the prettiest times for the Flyers. A season with expectations spiraled into the general manager and head coach being fired, and couldn't be resurrected. 

The Flyers were officially eliminated from playoff contention Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina. They came home and played an uninspired game Sunday in front of fans who are just as disgruntled with the 2018-19 season. 

The Flyers lost, 3-0, to the rebuilding Rangers, a team that had lost 13 of its last 16 games and owned just one road victory since Feb. 20 (see observations)

For the Flyers, there was little rhythm, little execution and apparently not much togetherness.

"I know we still have to stick with each other, play our game, play for the team, and that didn't happen today," Robert Hagg said. "It was too much of a one-man show out there, trying to do too much. For me, not a point-producing guy, it's frustrating. We're talking about before the game to do all the small things right for the team and we're going out there and doing exactly the opposite. It's frustrating.

"We have all the pieces, but we need to stick together and play as a team. I don't think we're doing that right now. It doesn't matter who you put out there, if you don't play together, it doesn't matter. If you're trying to do a one-man show for 60 minutes, you're going to end up 3-0 and in the back."

The Flyers were left questioning pride and effort Sunday. Just add it on to the laundry list of questions this season has produced. 

"We're a frustrating team right now," Claude Giroux said. "We're our worst enemy."

Once again, the Flyers are experiencing a fate becoming all too common. They've missed the playoffs in four of the last seven seasons, which includes the 2012-13 shortened campaign, and haven't made the postseason in consecutive years since 2010-12, when they last won a series.

Jakub Voracek has never shied away from talking about the team's core. After the Flyers missed the playoffs in 2016-17, he said, "It's going to get blown up and we all know it," if the team didn't get back to the postseason and start winning some series.

On Sunday, Voracek was asked how the Flyers could break their pattern of making the playoffs one season and missing them the next.

"I don't know … I think we said the core was going to get traded," he said, frustrated and purposefully dramatic. "Maybe the core? Maybe we've got to get traded — me, G, Coots, I don't know. You'll figure it out."

General manager Chuck Fletcher probably isn't contemplating trading away Voracek, Giroux and Sean Couturier. He's probably trying to find ways to make the Flyers better, to provide a promising start in 2019-20, so they're not requiring a Herculean second-half run just to be in the picture.

"I mean, everyone is watching, people are still watching, we have fans out there expecting us to go out there and play our best," Hagg said.

Fletcher is watching and he'll be looking for answers this summer — because these are not pretty times.

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Flyers weekly observations: A Joel Farabee story, Scott Gordon's job, more

Flyers weekly observations: A Joel Farabee story, Scott Gordon's job, more

The Flyers endured a rough week, going 1-3-0 to unofficially kick themselves out of the playoff chase.

From Jan. 14 to March 11, the Flyers were neck and neck with the Lightning as both teams went an identical 18-4-2 for a league-most 38 points. The Flyers even scored nine more goals than Tampa Bay during that stretch.

But it looks like they've run out of gas and the focus is shifting to 2019-20.

Let's get into that and more with our latest weekly observations:

• There should be excitement over Joel Farabee.

He just seems like a kid that fits this city.

The No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers on Monday after a superb freshman season at Boston University (see story). That means he will turn pro in 2019-20, most likely with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

But Farabee has been a quick riser, so don't put a timeline on his climb to the Flyers.

The 19-year-old is a strategic goal-scoring winger, utilizing his smarts and skill to beat goalies in a variety of ways.

He's also a hard-worker.

A moment that stuck out from development camp last summer was when he asked for extra instruction following an afternoon session. After getting some tips, he shook the coach's hand and thanked him. It was Scott Gordon, now the Flyers' interim head coach.


"I've got to learn a lot to make it to the next level," Farabee said after that practice, "so I'm just trying to get as much information as I can to be a better player."

• Speaking of Gordon, he has gone 24-17-4 as interim head coach after being summoned from the Phantoms to take over for Dave Hakstol, who was fired following a 12-15-4 start.

On the day Hakstol was relieved of his duties, general manager Chuck Fletcher made it clear Gordon was a candidate for the head coaching gig next season.

Gordon has done a good job. His players have responded well to his messages, he's gotten the best out of the younger pieces and the team became relevant in the postseason race.

We'll have to wait and see what it earns him. A new GM typically likes to hire his own guy, but there's no doubt Gordon has impressed to firmly put his name in the discussion.

He'll have tough decisions over the final six games of the regular season. Does he play Samuel Morin and Cam Talbot for the sake of giving them some looks or does he continue to employ his best possible lineup to win games? The latter will only help his case for where he lands in 2019-20.

• Jakub Voracek, always refreshingly honest, was a tough critic when talking to reporters following Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Capitals:

I felt like in that push we had, we had a good push, but unfortunately every time we got close to three points, five points, and then we played those big teams in front of us, those four-point games, we choked.

I don't want to take anything out of this season, to be honest.

We have to have a good look in the mirror.

It felt like the Flyers needed a clean slate all season. They were able to somewhat reset with a new head coach, but they had already dug too deep of a hole.

Next season, they should have all sorts of motivation. Expectations certainly won't be lowering. After all, the Flyers haven't missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns.

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Why this year's Flyers team has been an analytics nightmare

Why this year's Flyers team has been an analytics nightmare

WASHINGTON — At least the Flyers spared us from the throwaway cliché of “If we play like this, we’ll win a lot of games this season” following their 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Sunday afternoon (see observations). 

It’s an all-too overused line that is thrown out there when a team dominates in possession time and by outshooting their opponent by a significant margin, only to be on the short end of the final score — much like the Flyers were in Washington.

It’s hardly believable on a number of levels. 

First, only the elite teams in the league dominate possession consistently over the course of an 82-game season enough to actually believe that, and secondly, the Flyers have proven when they do play like that, they simply don’t win. 

The Flyers have been an analytics nightmare this season when it comes to the metrics of shot totals.

The “Corsi For Percentage” at even strength metric is an easy computation of the team that attempts more shots (shots on goal, blocked shots and missed shots) than its opponent. Over the course of an 82-game season, the conventional wisdom is that the better Corsi teams will win a higher percentage of games.

Quite simply, more volume equates to more victories. 

For the most part, this season has played out like the proponents of advanced metrics would have hoped for. The top ten teams in the CF% metric are currently occupying a playoff spot, while eight of the bottom 10 teams are currently outside the playoff picture. 

Except in the case of the 2018-19 Flyers, who are a completely flawed team in the analytics department.  

Sunday’s game was yet another example of the Flyers dominating possession and shot totals only to lose, and the most puzzling part is that this has been the case all season long.

When outshooting their opponents, the Flyers are a dismal 10-20-2, but when they’ve been outshot, they’re a head scratching 23-12-6. You’d expect those records to be flipped.

Under interim head coach Scott Gordon, those lopsided shot totals are even more tilted. The Flyers' CF% is 43.7 percent in the team’s wins under Gordon and nearly even at 50.5 percent in their losses.

By comparison, the Ottawa Senators, as you might expect, own the worst Corsi For Percentage in the NHL at 45.1 percent, as they’ve played the majority of their games in the defensive zone this season.

But how does one explain the Flyers? 

During their eight-game winning streak in January, the team's CF% was a miserable 41.4 percent when rookie Carter Hart was bailing them out on a nightly basis. Throughout their eight-game winless stretch in December and January, it was a very respectable 52.3 percent.   

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. 

With the Flyers this season, they seem to be telling us a lie. 

They needed to win the majority of games in which they outplayed the opposition, and to win a handful of games when they didn’t. 

Jakub Voracek may have summarized it best Sunday: “I don’t want to take anything out of this season, to be honest. I had way higher expectations. I think everybody did. It’s really disappointing. It sucks.”

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