From 1989-1994 the Philadelphia Flyers were on the outside looking in when it came to the playoff picture. In 1990-91, however, the team was in the playoff picture for the majority of the year; holding 2nd place in the Patrick Division for most of the season. Then after back-to-back wins against the New York Islanders on February 23-24, the team won only 2 of its last 15 games; going 2-10-3 from February 26 - March 30. My question is...what the hell happened? Injuries? Any insight is appreciated.
That was the first season under Russ Farwell as GM and the team tried to establish an identity through a transitional period. Some of the trouble could be related to lack of production from forwards (Rick Tocchet was probably the best that season) but more so because of prolonged injuries to Mark Howe, Tim Kerr and Ron Hextall.
Mark Howe's back injuries: he didn't play after (or near) Thanksgiving. Without him, the team was lost on the blueline. Tim Kerr, whose wife died during that season, also missed about 60 games with injuries. The team's best offensive threat and best d-men were both hurt for much of that season in addition to Hextall's constant battle with his injuries.
The young players with whom the new regime touted, didn't provide much help (names like Martin Hostak and Pat Murray). They were hoped to replace, in part, guys like Ilkka Sinisalo and Brian Propp.
Goaltending was an issue with Ron Hextall, Ken Wregget and Pete Peeters. Wregget had a bad season. Hextall had a debilitating groin injury and at one point missed about 25-30 games. He also was re-injured on more than one occasion including once in his first return game. Peeters, who played a larger role than originally anticipated, was probably their most consistent goalie for much of that season factoring major injuries to Hextall and a inconsistency with Wregget. The defense, too, was in need of an upgrade and was exposed without Howe.
Tocchet played much of that season like a warrior and was the team's best forward but when he went out with a groin injury, for a few games, the team went into a deep slump (lost 8 of 9 or so without him). Farwell was also the object of criticism for not upgrading at the trade deadline which led to much frustration from within. They won just twice in the last 15 games, too, after the earlier slump which proved devastating.