The city of brotherly love has much to be excited about this time of year. Football and basketball in Philly have met expectations. Hockey on the other hand is exceeding expectations.
The Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl.
The 76ers are in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers have soared into a playoff spot with 34 games to play.
The Flyers lost ten consecutive games from November and into the beginning of December. Many had them outside the playoff picture for the remainder of the season. However, Philly’s hockey club has roared back winning their last four and eight of their last 10 coming into Thursday. They sit in third place in one of the toughest divisions in hockey (the Metropolitan). There is still a long way to go before the playoffs, but Philadelphia has a lot to be excited about these days.
What’s been the difference for their hockey team??
Every contending team in the NHL has at least one player who lights it up on a nightly basis. Fortunately for this group, Philly has two.
Claude Giroux (30):
14 goals, 42 assists – 56 points (tied with Steven Stamkos for fourth in the NHL)
22 Power play points – +9 rating
48 games played
Jakub Voracek (28):
9 goals, 46 assists (league leader) – 55 points (tied with Phil Kessel and Johnny Gaudreau for fifth in the NHL)
23 Power play points – +7 rating
48 games played
Ratings of nine and seven may seem modest, but having those on a team with just a +4 goal differential is actually quite impressive. Giroux will be the lone Philly representative at the All-Star game in Tampa on Sunday. The Flyer captain will attempt to lead his club back to the postseason after coming up short a year ago. Philadelphia is locked in that third place position, but Columbus and Pittsburgh (two current wildcard teams) are both just one point behind them (as of 1/24/18).
Young, but seasoned
The Flyers are led by their two superstars in their prime, but also possess two 25 and younger talents. These two players are playing at All-Star levels..
Shayne Gostisbehere (24):
9 goals, 24 assists – 33 points (tied for fifth among all NHL defensemen)
18 Power play points – +2 rating
44 games played
Sean Couturier (25):
26 goals (leads team), 23 assists – 49 points (third on team behind Giroux and Voracek) – 48 games played
10 Power play points – +18 rating (leads team)
These two stars for Philadelphia may be young, but combine for 650 games of experience. We have talked numerous times about the youth movement in this league. Couturier and Gostisbehere are prime examples of the youthful leadership almost all contending teams have. The play of these Flyers will be a key element to this team’s success moving forward in their run to the playoffs.
Philadelphia has been looking for a reliable goaltender for quite some time. Fortunately, at least for the foreseeable future, they have found it in Brian Elliott..
Brian Elliott “Moose” (32):
19 wins and has picked up points in 26 of 37 games
2.77 goals against average w/a save percentage above 90 at .908
Elliott has carried a team (St. Louis) all the way to the conference finals in recent years. He has the capability of carrying the Flyers to the postseason and giving them an opportunity to win once they are there.
Philly’s backup has been reliable as well making their goalie tandem formidable.
Michal Neuvirth (29):
5 wins and has picked up points in six of 11 games
2.23 goals against average w/a .928 save percentage and one shutout
The Flyers have only scored 140 goals (lowest total for playoff team in East) this season, which makes solid goaltending imperative. They will not make the playoffs without it.
Battle and grind always
NBC Sports Philadelphia had its hometown team finishing with 96 points and a spot in the 2018 postseason at the beginning of the year..
They also had the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup, so really anything can happen as usual.
The Flyers are a very respectable 13-5-5 against current playoff teams and 3-0-1 against first place teams..
No one would be surprised if they were to go on and make it to the postseason at this point.
Philly is looking to avoid back-to-back seasons without making the playoffs since 1992-1994..
You have to battle, you have to grind.
“From Our Haus to Yours”