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Final Report Card Grades for Philadelphia Flyers' 2013 Season

Michael PizzutilloCorrespondent IIIMay 3, 2013

Final Report Card Grades for Philadelphia Flyers' 2013 Season

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    The Philadelphia Flyers finished the season with a 23-22-3 record and missed the playoffs for only the second time in 18 seasons.

    An extremely slow start combined with crippling injuries proved too costly during the lockout-shortened season. There were few bright spots during this underachieved year but also many unanswered questions and holes on the roster.

    As the team prepares for a busy offseason, let's reflect on Philadelphia's performance this past year. Here are the final report card grades for the Flyers' 2013 season. 

Centers

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    The Flyers may have one the deepest center units in the NHL.  The group was a nice blend of developing and veteran players, who are potential weapons on the ice. 

    The veterans include captain Claude Giroux and Danny Briere . Each of them has numerous playoff experience and leadership qualities to guide Philadelphia this season. 

    Those players also served as mentors for many promising teammates such as: Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Scott Laughton. On paper, this appeared to be a solid lineup.

    Grades:

    Giroux (48 games): After an awfully slow start, the Flyers captain finished the season strong—leading the team with 48 points. His leadership skills were put to the test this year and it took him some time to adapt into his new role. A-

    Briere (34 games): It was hard to watch Briere this season. His age finally caught up with him, and most likely played his final season in Philadelphia. D

    Schenn (47 games): Showed minor signs of progression from prior season, but didn't produce as expected. Benefited from brother Luke coming to Philadelphia. C-

    Couturier (46 games): Offensive game took a major step back this season. Hustled every play and is loved in Philly, but his game was off this year—even with his strongest skill, defense. D

    Read (42 games): Unlike the opinions from many of his critics, Read showed guts and improvement this year. While the team struggled early in the season, he was the lone bright spot. He also returned from a broken rib, five weeks earlier than anticipated. B+

    Laughton (5 games): In only five games in the NHL, Laughton proved his worth in the league. Although he did not record a single point, he logged solid ice-time and minutes. B

Left Wingers

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    Entering the season, the Flyers were excited to have their prior season scoring leader, Scott Hartnell, returning. Also returning were bruiser Zac Rinaldo and youngsters Eric Wellwood and Harry Zolnierczyk.

    During the offseason, Philadelphia also signed veteran and power-play specialist Ruslan Fedotenko for roster depth and experience.

    Unfortunately, injuries plagued the Flyers early in the season and the team scrambled bringing two ex-Flyers, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne, back to Philadelphia to help ease the pain. Both proved worthy but short-term solutions.

    Youngster Tye McGinn was able to gain valuable playing experience, and the Flyers traded away Harry Z. to the Anaheim Ducks for veteran Jay Rosehill during the season.

    Grades:

    Hartnell (32 games): Broke ankle early in the year and was never able to find his dominating rhythm from last season. He was demoted from the first line and made some poor decisions on the ice. Ended with 11 points on the season. D

    Rinaldo (32 games): Prior to his injury, Rinaldo was playing disciplined and solid hockey. A vast improvement from his team-leading 232 penalty minutes last season. A

    Gagne (27 games): Was brought in as a band-aid for the injured Flyers for experience and leadership qualities. Ended with 11 points in 27 games. May have proved worthy for another season in Philly. B+

    Knuble (28 games): What's not to love about this 40-year-old playing his heart out—even when the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs? True athlete and did his job when asked. A

    Fedotenko (47 games): Reliable and durable player, who is a master on the special teams. Contributed very little offensively for the Flyers. C

    McGinn (18 games): Played extremely well when called up to the big leagues. Five points in 18 games and showed some versatile skills when given the opportunity. May have a bright future in the NHL. B+

    Rosehill (11 games): Was brought in to be a punishing player, so Jake Voracek wouldn’t have to fight. Racked up 64 penalty minutes in 11 games. C+

Right Wingers

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    The Flyers did have some positives from this past season and the right wingers were a major bright spot in Philadelphia.

    Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds entered the season with many expectations and blew every one of them out of the water. Max Talbot was the veteran leader of the squad and solid player entering the year.

    Adam Hall, the veteran winger, was claimed off waivers midway through the season for added insurance. 

    Grades:

    Voracek (48 games): Team MVP, led the Flyers in scoring with 22 goals, lightning fast with the puck and elevated his play to one of the league's best players this season. He is a dynamic player with the potential to get better. Scary. A+

    Simmonds (45 games): Another Flyer who elevated his play this season. He had a monster February totaling 11 points in 12 games and finished third on the team with 32 points on the year. He played gritty and rough hockey all season long. A

    Talbot (35 games): Hustled on every shift and played hard up to his season-ending leg injury. Did not score his first goal until game No. 22 on the season. B-

    Hall (11 games): Late waiver signing during the year and contributed very little to the team. D+

Defensemen

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    Defense was an issue entering the season and a main contributor to the Flyers' shortcomings this year. 

    With Philadelphia failing to sign star free agents Ryan Suter or Shea Weber this past offseason, the team began the year with a middle-of-the-road squad, led by Kimmo Timonen.

    Timonen, entering his 14th season in the NHL and sixth with the Flyers, was still considered a quality blueliner. The rest of his mates were questionable, at best.

    Luke Schenn, 22-year-old and brother of Brayden, was brought over in a trade sending James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Versatile defender Andrej Meszaros battled back from an Achilles injury to start opening night. 

    As the team struggled with injured blueliners, the Flyers scrambled to piece together consistent line pairings the entire season. Though, the young defenders played extremely well down the stretch of the year.

    Grades:

    Timonen (45 games): The obvious leader of the Flyers' defensive unit and most versatile blueliner on the team. Led all defenders with 29 points and signed a monster one-year extension to return to Philly next season. A

    Schenn (47 games): Was probably the best defender for the team down the stretch of the season. He was extremely durable and dished out 187 hits—good for third in the NHL. Schenn did turn the puck over many times, but was very reliable this year. A-

    Meszaros (11 games): Hustled back to recover in time for opening night, only to hurt his shoulder during the year. The Flyers sorely missed his presence on the ice. C

    Gervais (37 games): The ex-Tampa Bay Lightning played average hockey all season. He had the worst plus-minus with a minus-17 on the year and averaged a little over 17 minutes per game. C-

    Grossman (30 games): Grossman threw his weight around this year totaling 81 hits in only 30 games with team. He showed glimpses of promise before his season-ending injury. C+

    Coburn (33 games): The most disappointing and underachieving defender on the Flyers. Before his season-ending injury, Coburn totaled 31 giveaways in 33 games. He was constantly out of position and beat on the one-on-one. D

    Gustafsson (27 games): The young defender filled in nicely this season and even contributed offensively with eight points on the year. B

    Foster (23 games): The ex-Minnesota Wild defenseman was another part of the rotating blueliners in Philadelphia. He contributed little on both ends of the ice. D+

    Huskins (8 games): The Flyers traded away a conditional pick to the Detroit Red Wings for the mediocre Huskins. Yet, he played rather well for Philadelphia before being illegally elbowed by Montreal Canadiens' Ryan White and missing the remainder of the year. He has a chance to return to Philly next season. B

    Lauridsen (15 games): Flyers' rookie may have proved some potential in the NHL. In only 15 games, he totaled 36 hits and 24 blocked shots. Some fine-tuning to his two-way play may make him a weapon on the ice. B

    Manning (6 games): Another young blueliner who played well in his six games this season. Manning totaled 16 hits and four blocked shots. He also picked up two assists on offense. He may be given a shot next season. B

Goalies

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    The "goalie situation" is alive and kicking in Philadelphia.

    Ilya Bryzgalov entered this season with many questions from critics—mainly asking if he could live up to his massive salary. The eccentric goalie, who is never shy about expressing his opinion, needed to have a better season than last.

    At the trade deadline, the Flyers decided to trade away reserve goalie Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for reserve netminder Steve Mason. Ironically, Philadelphia traded away Sergei Bobrovsky to the Jackets last summer, and he is now one of the best goalies in the NHL.

    Grades:

    Bryzgalov (40 games): Bryz was perhaps the team's MVP early in the season. He was durable and playing very strong in net, despite the Flyers' poor record. He kept the team in games and bailed them out when needed. But as the season rolled along, Bryz grew tired and began to voice his opinion. By the end of the year, most concentrated on his words and not his play. C

    Mason (7 games): The former rookie of the year played very well for the Flyers in only seven games. He had a record on 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA. Furthermore, he provided a rest for Bryz, while gaining the respect of the organization. So much so, he was signed to a one-year extension. He will be competing with Bryz for the starter next season. B+

Special Teams

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    Last season the Flyers ranked sixth on the power play and 17th on the penalty kill. 

    Needless to say the team had high expectations heading into the season—continue to dominate on the man advantage and improve on the disadvantage. 

    The Flyers have a handful of players who are terrific on special teams. Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Sean Couturier, Max Talbot and Ruslan Fedotenko are few of these players that thrive during the power play and kill.

    Philadelphia ended up being one of the best in the league on both sides of special teams—a major improvement from the prior season.

    Grades:

    Power Play: Philly ranked third on the power play converting 21.6 percent on the advantage. After an extremely slow start, the Flyers were able to gel into one of the finest PP units in the NHL. Voracek led the team with eight PP goals. A+

    Penalty Kill: The Flyers also dominated on the penalty kill and would finish fifth best in the league. Again, the team started slow, allowing goals on five of its first 16 attempts. Yet, the unit was able to pull it together and mustered an impressive 85.9 penalty-kill percent. A

Coach Peter Laviolette

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    Coach Peter Laviolette had some lofty expectations heading into this season. 

    After losing in the semifinals to the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers were on a mission to redeem themselves. Under Laviolette, Philly has made the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, and this year was no different.

    According to Kelly Chase of the NHL Network, he predicted the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup, prior to the season. A mighty bold prediction.

    Yet, the Flyers not only missed the playoffs for only the second time in 18 seasons but played inconsistent hockey all year. Untimely penalties, not playing full games and the failure to build any momentum are just some of the issues the team faced this season. And the coach is partly to blame. 

    All that being said, Lavy is a very good coach and deserves to stay with the Flyers. He was dealt a tough situation with mediocre defenders and numerous injuries—both devastating during a 48-game schedule. 

    Grade:

    Lavy: The Flyers, as an entire organization, are to blame for this lackluster of a season, and Lavy was a part of the issue. He will need to regroup his team and better prepare them for every game next season. C

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