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The Flyers might actually be decent

Jan 3, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

flyers.edmonton

Overcoming nine losses in 12 games to start the season, ridiculous injuries and the albatross that is Andrej Meszaros’ part time work on defense, the Flyers have shown something that seemed utterly unbelievable in October:

They might actually be a somewhat decent team.

Since flopping out of the gate and firing coach Peter Laviolette, the Flyers have slowly developed into a formidable foe in the Eastern Conference. And while being OK in the Metropolitan Division isn’t anything to be proud of, the Flyers’ recent 3-1-0 road trip against the Western Conference shows they have the ability to win in less than stellar circumstances.

Beginning the season with a 3-9-0 record, the Flyers were closer to a top-5 draft pick than a playoff spot. Since then, the team has gone 17-8-4 (7-2-1 in their last 10) and wiggled into playoff position, two points behind the Washington Capitals for second in the Metro.

And this isn’t a mirage, random spike in success or a feast on bad teams — this is a two-month upswing against fairly decent competition. Over their last 29 games, the Flyers’ average competition managed a 19-17-4 record and 42 points, which would put them somewhere between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators, two fringe playoff teams.

The major reason for the Flyers’ winning resurgence has been individual players waking up from their statistical slumbers in the last 25 games. In particular, Flyers center and offensive catalyst Claude Giroux has almost single-handedly brought the club’s offense up the NHL rankings with an insane burst.

Pointless through the first five games of the season, Giroux was without a goal for the opening 15 games. But once he got his first on Nov. 9 against the Edmonton Oilers, the rest of the team followed, and the club began to compete.

In the 25 games after scoring his first, Giroux has been all-world, posting 29 points (10g, 19a). He’s had nine multi-point games and gone scoreless just seven times during that span. He is currently scoring at a near 100-point pace since busting his slump.

It’s that production, and some fortunate line chemistry, that has unlocked the Flyers’ attack and turned them from a lottery team to a playoff contender.

Wayne Simmonds, once believed to be trade bait, has caught fire, scoring 22 points in his last 25 games. With a jumping deflection goal against the Avalanche on Thursday, Simmonds took the Flyers’ goal-scoring lead with 13 — a remarkable feat considering he had just one tally through his first 18 games.

Jake Voracek also joined the production game. Like Simmonds, Voracek has added 22 points in his last 25 games. He had just five through his opening 16.

Scoring just two points in his first 12 games of the year, even Scott Hartnell has gotten into the act. Hartnell has 18 points in his last 25 games, despite being shifted all over the lineup.

But a surge in offense means nothing if the Flyers can’t defend. That’s where Steve Mason comes in. A guy everyone expected to fall flat on his face, Mason has handed the Flyers a .930 save percentage or above in 10 of his last 19 games.

And in using that combination, the Flyers have pushed past the .500 record mark and transformed from a poor team to a surprisingly decent one.

  1. psudrozz - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    rosehill and downie need to be taken out of the lineup. both are awful.

    Reply
    • Opininionsarelikea..nimalactivists - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Agree with rosehill, but Downie was a great pickup. The read, couts, downie line was dominating when they were all healthy. A lot of the success was because of Downie creating space. So yeah….

      Reply
      • flyerfan4evr - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        Agreed

      • flyerfan4evr - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        This is the line that got things going for the flyers this year – hopefully Berube re-unites them soon!

    • BenE. - Jan 4, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      And replaced with who?

      Reply
    • t800m101 - Jan 4, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      You’re a fucking idiot. Downie provides energy and Rosehill is your enforcer and your enforcer(s) need to play in every game to protect their teammates. Pussy “fans” like you have ruined the game.

      Reply
  2. mohotta - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Watching the end of last night’s game, it was easy to believe the Flyers could come back and win. You could tell that the players believed they could come back and win too. Very different from the beginning of the season, when the final buzzer of each game was a blessing to both those watching and those playing.

    Reply
  3. Snevik - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    A Flyers article written by not Andrew Kulp! Hooray!

    Reply
  4. phillyfan - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Who ever believed Simmonds was trade bait? If you don’t see his value to the team even when he’s not scoring, you’re simply not paying attention. They would be a substantially worse team without him.

    Reply
    • franko - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      I don’t think alot of people realize how valuable Simmonds is to this team. Hockey, and building a hockey team, is not all about stats.

      Reply
  5. t800m101 - Jan 4, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Raffl out with a concussion, oh well. The good news is that Rosehill will be in the lineup. :-)

    Reply
  6. vincentat - Jan 4, 2014 at 2:37 PM

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    Reply
  7. FlyersFan - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    The Rosehill fight was the turning point for the Flyers vs the Coyotes. Yes, the Flyers are decent, but they aren’t elite.

    Timonen, Meszaros, Hartnell are major weaknesses. Timonen especially because Berube somehow sees fits to give him first pair minutes. Couturier’s play has fallen off a cliff. Inthe last 14 games he’s -11 going from a +10 to a-1 with ZERO plus games.

    The thing that is being exposed with Couturier is his lack of speed. Guys who can really skate blow right by him or go right around him. Fans who thought he was untouchable to trade better look again. Very difficult to see how he can be an elite defensive player with poor skating skills and being slow in the modern NHL.

    Meanwhile, Brayden Schenn, who many criticized and used as their whipping boy is on pace for over 50 points. As a 22 year ol Playing limited minutes compared to Couturier.

    Yeah……….

    Reply
    • t800m101 - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Coburn has been by far the Flyers worst defenseman recently. I really wish they shipped him off to Edmonton when they had the chance too. He’s been here seven years next month, it’s time for him to go.

      Reply
    • orng-n-blk - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      And Schenn is rarely “visible” most of the time when he is on the ice. Just haven’t figured out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

      Reply
      • FlyersFan - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        Brayden Schenn is “Barely visible”?

        What are you watching?

        He’s one of the most physical forwards on the team, easily. 3rd on the team in goals. 4th leading scorer on the team overall. On pace for 50+ points. 2nd on the team among forwards in the +/- category. 2nd on the team in hits among forwards behind only Rinaldo.

        Additionally, he should have about 15-18 more assists then he currently does because he consistently sets up linemates who can’t finish.

        If you want to criticize one of the young forwards, pick Couturier who has done absolutely nothing offensively for 150 out of the 165 games he has played in the NHL.

        Oh wait, he had a 4 point game a month, I forgot that he must be the second coming of Steve Yzerman.

      • really? - Jan 7, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        15-18 more assists?

        (using 18)
        He would lead the team in points.
        He would be tied with Malkin for 5th in league in assists.
        He would be tied with Ovechkin for 12th in the league in points.

        If Brayden Schenn had linemates that “could finish” #sochi2k14

      • FlyersFan - Jan 7, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        Yes really.

        Brayden should easily have around 15-18 more assists than he does right now if his linemates could finish. If Brayden was on a team like Chicago, he would be ripping it up. Also, what is the point of bringing up Malkin?

        Malkin has missed 11 games for the Pens so what exactly is your point here?

  8. FlyersFan - Jan 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Agree. Coburn should be renamed Cobum. Really bad lately but being paired with Kimmo doesn’t help any either.

    How long are the Flyers going to go with Kimmo on the first pair? Luke Schenn goes from being the best defenseman on the team last year being paired with someone other than Kimmo, then gets paired with Kimmo this year to start the season and gets benched. Comes off the bench paired with someone other than Kimmo and suddenly looks like the best defenseman on the team again. Coincidence?

    I think not. The Flyers can’t be taken seriously as legitimate contenders until Kimmo is not playing for this team anymore. Period. Look at the game against Phoenix. The Coyotes player went right around him and scored the goal while Timonen basically escorted him on the way to Mason.

    The Escort. That’s my new name for Timonen from now on. It’s too much to ask him to lay a body and be physical on the opposing offensive player so he just escorts them on their way to scoring a goal.

    Reply
  9. Lol - Jan 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Easy with the Kimmo bashing people. He’s old, and has lost a step, but that aside he’s clearly the best dman on the team. I love Grossmann and Luke Schenn, but those guys skate like they’re stuck in mud, and only come close to Kimmo’s effectiveness when they can get their hands on somebody (or in Grossmann’s case, block a shot).

    That said, yeah Mez can’t play d, and Coburn’s giveaway to takeaway ratio is abysmal. Bring up Oliver Lauridsen!

    Reply
    • FlyersFan - Jan 6, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      The Escort is nowhere near the best defenseman on the team. In fact, he’s the worst defenseman on the team and has been all season.

      No other defenseman on the team takes as many minor penalties as The Escort does nor is any other defenseman responsible for as many of the PP goals scored on us that results from taking taking those penalties.

      Take a look at how many breakaways the Flyers have given up the last 2 seasons. The Escort was involved in nearly all of them.

      He can’t play anymore. He’s too old, slow, broken down, and he gets exposed on a nightly basis. Additionally, he is the single worst player on the entire team if you factor in his production vs. cap hit. Easily the worst contract on the team.

      He is all negative, nothing positive at this point and he needs to go ASAP.

      Reply
      • Hopson - Jan 7, 2014 at 1:21 AM

        How many accounts are you sitting on to give yourself all these thumbs up? It’s pretty obvious you’re the one doing it when you have 15 thumbs up on all your posts, when everyone else has about 4, and anyone who disagrees with you gets a dozen thumbs down. Get a life. You and the T800 moron. Go ahead and give me a dozen thumbs down now.

      • t800m101 - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:04 AM

        Hopson, who the fuck do you think you’re talking to? You’ll never be on my level. Fucken tool.

      • FlyersFan - Jan 7, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        @Hopson shut the fuck up bitch!

        I’ll take a shit on you.

    • Joe - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Bring up Brandon Manning and Oliver Lauridsen!

      Reply

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