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Is Vigneault's track record a sign of big things to come for Flyers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Flyers are hoping track records prevail in 2021-22. They'll be banking a good bit on them, pulling for track records and potential to outweigh poor performance from an abnormal but disastrous 56-game 2020-21 season.
While the club undeniably needs to acquire significant help this offseason, it also needs its in-house pieces to improve, perform better and reach expectations.
Will those things come to fruition for the Flyers as the NHL aims to return mostly to its traditional format and length of schedule?
"I need a normal season," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said straightforwardly last week. "I’ve been here two years and we haven’t had one of those."
If there's doubt about the Flyers' chances of bouncing back into contention next season, Vigneault's track record of bouncing back should alleviate some of those concerns.
Prior to 2020-21, Vigneault had missed the playoffs twice over his last 13 seasons as a head coach. After leading the Canucks to the postseason in his first season with the club in 2006-07, Vancouver missed the playoffs the next season. The following year, in 2008-09, the Canucks were back in the postseason with a 100-point campaign. It marked the first of four consecutive seasons in which Vigneault led Vancouver to 100 or more points, with a Stanley Cup Final appearance coming in 2011.
During his five seasons in New York from 2013 to 2018, Vigneault missed the playoffs only once — his final season with the Rangers — which led to his firing. New York went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, which began the Rangers' Vigneault era, and had three seasons of 100 or more points follow it. After his firing, Vigneault took a year away from the game and then took the Flyers to the playoffs in 2019-20, his first season with the club. The Flyers fell one win shy of the Eastern Conference Final.
The only time Vigneault has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons throughout his career was back in the late-1990s and early-2000s with the Canadiens, his first NHL head coaching gig. He led Montreal to the postseason in Year 1, then missed the playoffs the next two seasons before being fired 20 games into his fourth season.
The Flyers were 41-21-7 in 2019-20 with 13 games left before the NHL postponed the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020-21, the Flyers took a major step backward, finishing 25-23-8 in the 56-game regular season and without a playoff berth in the realigned East Division.
When Vigneault fails to clinch a postseason bid, his track record of bouncing back over the next 82 games is good. One could and should argue that making the playoffs is not the goal for the Flyers, that they should be vying for more. But it's always the first step.
In 2021-22, the pressure is on for the Flyers and Vigneault's track record.
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