4 Key Moments That Derailed Philadelphia Flyers' 2013 Season
The Philadelphia Flyers' season was full of highs and lows and ended with utter disappointment, as the team failed to make the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Many players reflected on the abbreviated season with anger and disgust, including Jake Voracek in an interview with Courier Posts' Dave Isaac.
“Everything went wrong this year,” Jakub Voracek, the Flyers’ leading goal scorer, said after practice Friday. “When we got on that hot streak and won four games in a row I thought, ‘OK, here we go. We’re going.’ Then we had a couple games where we were tied in the third period and we just got an unlucky bounce and couldn’t come back from it.”
In a season players and fans will want to soon forget, let's take a look at the four key moments that derailed the Flyers' 2013 season.
1. Scott Hartnell's Injury on January 22
Scott Hartnell led the Philadelphia Flyers in goals last year and had lofty expectations entering the lockout-shortened season.
The team's motivational leader was counted on to continue his high-energy play and pick up from last season's dominance. But just three games into the season, the Flyers received heartbreaking news.
During the New Jersey Devils game, teammate Kimmo Timonen took a slapshot, which deflected off Hartnell's leg—sending him to the ice in immediate pain. And just like that, Hartnell was scheduled to miss four to eight weeks with a broken foot.
He would miss a month of play, yet the Flyers went on to an 8-7-1 record in Hartnell's absence from the ice. Philadelphia managed to stay above water without its emotional leader until his return on March 23.
Hartnell missing time did not derail the Flyers, but his play post-injury suffered dramatically. He totaled 11 points on the season and only eight goals in 32 games played. And of his eight goals scored, three came from a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens in April.
According to Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi, Flyers' coach Peter Laviolette demoted Hartnell to the fourth line—for a bone-headed roughing penalty—during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in March and had some choice words for his team and the veteran forward.
“We’ve got to play a clean game, and it seems like we do things and shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Hartnell's injury was the beginning to his and the Flyers' disappointing season.
2. Loss to Penguins on March 7
The previous matchup and before this heart breaker, the Flyers played one of their most inspiring games of the year against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Led by Jake Voracek's first career NHL hat trick, Philadelphia would end up beating the Pens in the final minutes of regulation.
Unfortunately, the Flyers would have to play their Atlantic Division rival again this season.
In this game, Philadelphia jumped out to a massive 4-1 lead after first-period goals from Zac Rinaldo, Kimmo Timonen and two from Voracek. The Flyers were dominating the Eastern Conference's best team.
But on par with the season, Philly came out flat in the second period, and the Penguins scored three goals to tie the game at four apiece. The Flyers appeared deflated, flat and beaten with another period of hockey remaining.
Not soon after, Pens' forward Chris Kunitz netted one by reserve goalie Brian Boucher, who replaced Ilya Bryzgalov to begin the third period, within the first 18 seconds to open the period. Pittsburgh never let go of the lead, and the Flyers blew one of their biggest games of the season.
After an amazing comeback victory in the prior meeting, Philadelphia's lackluster second and third periods were indicative of the team's inconsistent play throughout the year
3. Shootout Loss to Islanders on March 28
If the Pittsburgh game was heartbreaking then this game would be considered backbreaking.
The Flyers had lost three in a row entering this meeting with the New York Islanders in Philadelphia. Both teams—at the time—were battling for the eighth playoff spot, with NY five points ahead in the standings.
And much like the Penguins game, Philadelphia jumped out to an early first-period lead of 2-0 with goals from Hartnell and Mike Knuble. But the Islanders chipped away in the second period, and eventually New York's sharpshooting center John Tavares scored to cut the lead to one.
Yet again, the Flyers appeared deflated and lost.
In the third, the Islanders would score two more unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead, but Philadelphia still had some fight left in them. Hartnell scored his second goal with 30 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
After a quiet OT, the Flyers would end up losing in a shootout, while also losing ground in the playoff race. To add insult to injury, Philadelphia also lost another defenseman, Braydon Coburn, to injury, and he would eventually miss the remainder of the season.
According to a postgame interview with CSN's Tim Panaccio, Claude Giroux expressed his frustrations with the overall season. “We feel like we are a team that should be in the playoffs and we're not,” Giroux said. “We need to find a way to get those points.
This was a devastating loss deep in the season and widened the gap for Philly's playoff hopes.
4. Steve Mason Trade on April 4
When Steve Mason was traded to the Flyers, many were left scratching their heads and wondering if Bryzgalov's time in Philly had run its course. Normally a trade is a positive move, and this move may benefit the Flyers in the long run.
But for Bryzgalov, it was a tough adjustment. In a previous article, I mentioned the veteran goalie's stats since the trade were well below average.
In addition, Bryz's old habits began to unfold, and his postgame interviews were now the focal point instead of his play. And the Flyers officially had another "goalie issue" on their hands.
Also at the deadline, the team had a slim chance to make the postseason, but a chance nonetheless. But with an outspoken and impatient goalie whose temper rose after each game, the season was now turning into a Bryzgalov soap opera.