What the Flyers Shouldn’t Be Thankful for on Thanksgiving


In the holiday spirit, NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall debate what the Flyers shouldn't be thankful for on Thanksgiving:

I've written about this in great detail over the past few weeks and that's been the Flyers' lethargic starts to not just games, but also each of the past four seasons. The numbers speak for themselves through the first 21 games: 5-1-1 when they score first and 4-9-0 when their opponent jumps out to an early lead.

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Almost every team playing .500 hockey can point to this as a reason for its mediocrity, but for the Flyers starting slow, it extends well beyond games. They've also been mired in playing catch-up throughout Dave Hakstol's first four seasons.

Let's break down where they've stood in the standings on Turkey Day over the past four seasons:

2015-16: 7-10-5, 14th in Eastern Conference
2016-17: 9-9-3, 13th
2017-18: 8-9-5, 13th
2018-19: 9-10-2, 12th 

It's tough for any team to continuously play catch-up to the rest of the league, which is what the Flyers have been forced to do by getting off to these slow starts, season after season. A year ago, they were midway through a 10-game winless stretch before they finally started to dig themselves out of a hole in December.

Impressively, the Flyers played the final four months of last season at around a .650 points percentage to qualify for the postseason, which they only accomplished after beating the Rangers in Game 82. 

Teams that are in playoff position after November typically qualify for the postseason 75 percent of the time. The Flyers proved they could overcome that twice in the past three seasons, and it appears they're putting themselves in that unenviable position once again. 

The Flyers' penalty kill is atrocious, and it continues to get worse and worse. It's the wound that never closes, perhaps because the team doesn't want to get it healed. The structure is a broken system and there has not been any real accountability to fix it in the past four years. So the Flyers are not thankful that the NHL rulebook exists.

The Flyers are the third-most penalized team in the NHL with 96 penalties - 90 minor penalties - yet have been shorthanded 73 times. This isn't the Broad Street Bullies anymore. The Flyers have just one fight this season. This is a team that takes penalties and doesn't know how to avoid punishment.

If the Flyers' PK was even just a little bit better, perhaps we're talking about a team that isn't at Thanksgiving in mediocre standing.

But too many times this season the PK has directly impacted the outcome of a game. And for that, the Flyers cannot be thankful for the rulebook.

Calvin Pickard, who wasn't in the organization fewer than two months ago and played almost all of last season in the AHL, is currently the Flyers' No. 1 goalie.

Alex Lyon, who was playing at Yale in 2015-16 and has just 12 career games of NHL experience, is the Flyers' backup goalie.

The injury cloud hovering over Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth is dark and gloomy.

The Flyers have already played four goalies through 21 games this season. They also played four last season. It marks the first time the Flyers have used four or more goalies in back-to-back regular seasons since the 1989-90 and 1990-91 campaigns.

Overall, the team owns an NHL-worst .876 save percentage and has yielded the league's second-most goals per game at 3.62.

Yeah, there's no way the Flyers should be thankful for their situation in net.

And should we be surprised?

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