What Went Wrong in 2013 Part 4: The Shortened Season
This is the fourth of a five-part feature series on TCL Flyers titled "What Went Wrong in 2013."
By John Russo (@Roose_TCL)
Every single player, coach, owner, fan and analyst knew what to expect during the shortened 2013 season.
Unlike the marathon of a regular 82-game schedule is for these athletes every season, the 48-game post-lockout season was going to be a mad scramble from the starting line.
Imagine a bunch of marathon runners running a sprint. That was the 2013 Flyers and it went about as poorly as you could have imagined it to go.
Teams who don’t normally make the post season snuck in (sorry Toronto and the Islanders but there could have been 34 more games for your teams to blow it) while good teams stumbled and were left out (Philadelphia, a surging Columbus team and almost Detroit to name a few), often hurt by misfortune or a stint of bad luck that wouldn’t reflect upon an 82-game season.
The Flyers stumbled and fell victim to the latter.
Just like fellow writer Chris Bengel wrote about in Part 3 [link], the injuries the Flyers suffered factored into the shortened season. Certain players never recovered in time, and the absence to Scott Hartnell, Matt Read and Danny Briere stood to be significant on the shorter season than it would in an 82-game schedule.
Injuries weren’t the only factor though. Every team went through the same ordeal as the Flyers. An extended offseason where a majority of the league didn’t stay in shape, no preseason and one week of training camp stood among the factors impacting this shortened season.
“For anybody who played during the lockout, they’re going to be a step or two quicker than anybody who just sat on their hineys and watched the news,” Hartnell said back in January before the season started.
The beginning of the season showed what being out of shape can do to a team and players individually. Play was sloppy, star players were getting hurt on routine plays where they normally wouldn’t get injured and a team like the Chicago Blackhawks went on a tear to open the season, taking advantage of other teams’ bad play.
While the Blackhawks were a hot topic around the NHL for the first month, the hot topic for the Flyers players was struggling to jump out to a lead, first period funks and an inability to get to .500.
“We need to find a way to get that first goal. Our starts have to be better and when we get the starts we want we keep the momentum,” captain Claude Giroux said after a bad 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 25, which dropped the Flyers to 9-11-1 after their sixth failed attempt to get to .500.
Inconsistency wound up being the final killer of the Flyers season once they overcame the terrible start. With 19 games to go, the Flyers were 13-15-1 and in decent shape to get into a playoff race.
Then from March 18-28, they lost four straight games to drop to 13-17-3. They followed that up with a four-game winning streak and they reach .500 for the first time all season.
But another four-game losing streak in which the Flyers were out-scored an incredible 12-3 all but mathematically eliminated the Flyers from playoff hopes.
After that, the Flyers won six of their last seven games to finish the season with a 23-22-3 record. They were on a hot streak and just six points out of a playoff spot, which is no problem with 34 games remaining.
That wasn’t the case for the 2013 season though. Injuries, being ill prepared and inconsistency resulting in too-little-too-late made the 2013 season a year to forget.
Coming tomorrow in Part 5, Dan MacNeal says this is a biproduct of a few years of bad moves.