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One could argue that the Philadelphia Flyers spend enough money and make the kind of bold moves that every season should be considered “Stanley Cup or bust.” In that frame of mind, falling in the first round is obviously a big disappointment. If you look at the team more realistically – especially considering its tough start and last season’s flop – there are some definite positives to take from the Flyers’ 2013-14 season, however.
(For some, the most disappointing thing might just be a controversial hybrid icing call, though …)
Let’s take a look at an up-and-down year for “The Broad Street Bullies.”
- Peter Laviolette came into this season high on many “hot seat” lists and that proved to be reasonable, as the team decided to part ways with him in favor of Craig Berube in early October. Philly dipped as low as 4-10-1, prompting many to count them out entirely.
- Their embattled captain Claude Giroux begged to differ, however, stating that he believed the Flyers would make the playoffs. Giroux did more than just bounce back from a tough first month; he once again established himself as one of the best players in the NHL, even if Team Canada opted against bringing him to Sochi.
- Have the Flyers finally settled upon a goalie? You never know with this franchise, but this season made a pretty emphatic statement that Steve Mason is “the man.” He capped off a season in which he earned a three-year, $12.3 million contract extension by often playing brilliantly (when healthy) against the Rangers in the playoffs. It could take some time for Mason to totally silence his more stubborn critics, yet he likely turned the volume down on most of them.
- It’s probably fair to say that defense is still a question for this franchise, but the Flyers are betting big on trade acquisition Andrew MacDonald. They locked the former New York Islanders blueliner up with a mammoth raise via a six-year, $30 million deal.
If nothing else, the Flyers showed the kind of fight their market values this season. It wasn’t always easy in 2013-14, yet this bunch showed that they’re willing to grind their way out of tough situations. The question is: what’s their ceiling in 2014-15?