As you well know, the Buffalo Sabres are going through a rebuilding season. So are the Sabres opponent tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers. It might be hard to believe since the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup Finals a little over three years ago. But after missing out on the playoffs last season and finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers enter play tonight in 14th place in the East and, like the Sabres, playing for their second head coach this season.
Peter Laviolette was fired just three games into the season and assistant Craig Berube took over. This is actually the second rebuild for Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren who had to breathe life back into the organization following the 2006-07 season when the Flyers were the worst team in the NHL and set franchise records for most losses and fewest points.
The rebuild didn’t take long as the Flyers made the playoffs the following season and two years after that, lost to Chicago in the Finals. One year later Philadelphia ended up with the two seed in the East but a playoff failure started the dismantling.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded and eventually a number of other players would follow, some via the trade route, like James Van Riemsdyk while others were allowed to leave in free agency like current Sabre Ville Leino.
Only four players remain from the team that made the finals in June 2010: Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn.
Much of the Flyers troubles this season have been due to a lack of scoring. The Sabres are dead last in average goals per game at 1.70 but the Flyers are only two spots ahead with an average of 2.0
Philadelphia doesn’t have the offensive depth they used to have and their biggest gun, Giroux, who suffered an injury during the off season while playing golf, has only two goals in 20 games.
Having said all of that, it is worth noting the Flyers are playing better of late and maybe you can point to the big brawl with Washington as the Flyers were getting trashed 7-0 in their own building. Philly’s record dropped to 3-9 after that game. They’re 5-1-2 since and the offense which produced only 23 goals in the first 15 games has now scored 18 goals in the last 5 games.