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Are the Flyers already in trouble to start 2024?



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Cam Atkinson has not scored a goal for the Philadelphia Flyers since Nov. 11. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers are still in a playoff spot and 11th place in the NHL. However, it would be remiss of us not to consider some of the quiet concerns around the team.

To close out the holiday season and start the new year, the Flyers have gone 1-2-2 in their last five games. The one win – a 4-1 triumph in the Flyers game against the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 28 – was an impressive one, albeit fueled by a monumental mental lapse by the hosts, which allowed Philadelphia to score three goals in two minutes. The Flyers have surrendered four or more goals in three of their last four losses. Suddenly, Philadelphia has the look and feel of a young team experiencing the fatigue of a long season. Even some of the most experienced vets have had their struggles, too.

Cam Atkinson, who missed the entirety of the 2022-23 season, hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 11. He has just three points in his last 16 games. Tyson Foerster scored four goals in three games to start December but has just one goal in the 32 other games he’s played. Travis Sanheim was dominating the NHL in average and total ice time, but has played more than 24 minutes just once in his last 10 games. Sean Couturier, who also missed all of last season, has two points in his last eight games. All four players play massive minutes for the Flyers but have slowed down immensely in the last three or four weeks.

Noah Cates‘ impending return will help keep legs fresh, but the already tired Flyers are in for a brutal January. This month, the Flyers will play 14 times in 26 days before finishing the month with a winter break. They may fall out of a playoff spot if their troubles continue. The Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, and Pittsburgh Penguins are all tied with 40 points and out of the wild card, while the Flyers sit narrowly ahead of them with 43 points. However, those three teams all have games in hand on Philadelphia.

This is why head coach John Tortorella wanted no part of a playoff discussion when asked at a press conference a few weeks back. It’s still way too early to consider the playoffs. If the Flyers struggle in January, the conversation will return to Philadelphia being trade deadline sellers. Whether they go on to succeed or fail, the Flyers will have more than enough positives to take away from this season.

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