The Flyers were eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff consideration following Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
That means the Flyers have missed the playoffs in two of the last three years and three of the past five.
Earlier this season the Flyers had a 10-game winning streak that began Nov. 27 with a 5-3 win against the visiting Calgary Flames. The streak finally ended with a 3-1 loss at Dallas on Dec. 17.
Thus the Flyers became the first NHL team to have a 10-game win streak during the season and still miss the playoffs.
So where does the team go from there.
General manager Ron Hextall has shown great restraint and has been given good grades since being named May 7, 2014.
Hextall inherited a terrible salary cap situation from his predecessor Paul Holmgren and it has taken time for him to get out of that deep hole.
Unlike many former Flyers GM’s Hextall stayed patient and didn’t go for the quick fix, although there were some deals he’d like to have back.
(Signing right wing Dale Wiese to a four-year $9.4 million deal prior to this season, wasn’t his finest move, with salary figures courtesy of Spotrac.com).
The Flyers are in a position where their core offensive players are getting older while they try to integrate new players into the lineup.
Captain Claude Giroux, who recently admitted it took longer than he expected to fully recover from offseason hip surgery, is finishing up his second straight subpar season.
Giroux, to his credit, has not missed a game, but he has 14 goals, 43 assists and a career-worst -15 plus/minus rating.
That comes after last season when he scored 22 goals, had 45 assists and was a minus-8. He also had just one assist in six playoff games against Washington and at the time said he was healthy, but then went in for surgery.
Either way, Giroux will be 30 in January and one has to wonder if his best hockey, which includes three all-star seasons, has been played.
The appropriate question is whether Giroux will still be an offensive threat when the Flyers become a good team.
And an even bigger question is, when will that happen?
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, goalie Steve Mason, defenseman Nick Schultz and left wing Chris VandeVelde are all unrestricted free agents.
It wouldn’t be surprising if neither returns.
So Hextall will have plenty of work to do if the Flyers want to return to the playoffs.
The Flyers do have some impressive young player and rookie forward Travis Konecny and defenseman Ivan Provorov proved to be cornerstone players that the team can build around.
That said, this is not a creative offensive team and one that also had troubles being consistent on D and in goal. That’s not a great recipe.
So Hextall this might be the offseason where Hextall has to do a bold move or two in order to get a team that has been not one a single playoff series since 2012.
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