Philadelphia Flyers continue to recover from early struggles
In the late parts of November and early December, the Flyers went on a 10-game losing streak, placing them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The early season struggles set the Flyers back tremendously in the playoff conversation. However, with grit and grind, the Flyers have managed to throw themselves into the playoff conversation with a strong two months of play.
Since the losing streak, the Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with a 11-4-1 record. Over this span, Philadelphia is scoring 3.31 goals per game, while at the same time allowing just 2.38 goals per game.
The quick turnaround from the Flyers might have been done just in time to save their season. They will have to continue their recent play to have a shot.
At 46 points, the Flyers sit one point behind the Penguins in what is a tight Wild Card race. With five teams within three points of each other and around 40 games left to play, the playoff race is lining up to be one of the best we have seen.
With 40 games remaining to play, 12 of those for the Flyers will be against the teams in the Wild Card race. Down the stretch, the Flyers will have to continue to play high-level hockey to give themselves a shot at the playoffs.
Change In Play
Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek are the leaders of a Flyers offense that has played at a very high level the last 16 games. For the Flyers to secure the final playoff spot, they will need these guys to continue to produce at this level.
Currently, Giroux leads the team in points with 52 and is the leader of this group. Giroux has taken it upon himself to spark this Flyers offense, and right now, they are playing like one of the best teams in the league. Of Giroux’s 52 points on the season, 24 have come during this winning spell. Giroux has risen his plus-minus rating to a +9 over this last stretch of games. If Giroux continues this play, it will be tough to stop this Flyers offense.
Following in Giroux’s footsteps, players like Simmonds and Voracek are pouring in numbers at a very productive rate. Voracek leads the team in assists currently with 43 and has eight goals on with that as well. Simmonds has been an excellent contributor to this run as well. Of Simmonds’ 26 points on the season, 12 have come during this run. Simmonds brings a balanced attack on goal-scoring and passing. The play of their role players on offense has been a significant reason as to why the Flyers are bouncing back.
The Flyers will have to continue to dig themselves out of the cellar after an early-season losing streak. The offense is finally starting to produce, and they are quickly turning into a team that no team wants to play. An offense that was seemingly non-existent is now firing on all cylinders.
During the losing streak, the defense of the Flyers was a noticeable weak spot. Guys like Robert Hagg, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere now have this defense playing well. Provorov and Hagg are two young defensemen that bring an energy to the rink every night for the Flyers.
Gostisbehere has always been an offensive threat on the defensive side for the Flyers. So far this season, Shayne has tallied 32 points, but the significant change for him on this run is his defensive play. When he is on the ice, teams are scoring, but not at the alarming rate that they were during the losing spell. Gostisbehere has his plus-minus rating at a +2 throughout the Flyers’ recent winning period.
On defense, the Flyers have made the corrections needed to win hockey games. They have had some young stars step up, and are getting production from everyone on the defensive side of the puck. If they keep this play up, there is no doubt that they will find their way into the playoffs.
Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth have been a good combo the whole season. Currently, both goalies are giving up under three goals per game, and have save percentages above 91 percent. In Elliott’s last 15 games played, he has given up just 36 goals, which is good for a goal against average of 2.4 goals per game. He has been one of the best goalies in the entire NHL throughout that span. The goalie play for the Flyers has been extraordinarily consistent and continues to play at a high level.
If the Flyers were to make the playoffs, there is no doubt that the play of Elliott and Neuvirth can spark a deep run. The offensive and defensive sides of the puck have done an excellent job of helping these two out recently, and the success has followed.
Down the stretch
For the Flyers, they will have the opportunity to win some crucial games moving forward, but being in such a tight Wild Card race, they are going to have to show up on a nightly basis. From this point on this is a team that cannot afford to make mistakes. The only thing worse than an early-season losing streak is a late one.
Featured image by Kate Freese Photography
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