The 2016-17 NHL regular season is officially underway for the Philadelphia Flyers. After five games played, the orange and black currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division with a 2-2-1 record.
Philadelphia began their season with three straight away games against the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, and Chicago Black Hawks. The Flyers looked strong against the Kings, starting off their season with a 4-2 victory. Unfortunately, that would be the only victory for the team during their road trip as they fell to the Coyotes in overtime and could not prevent the puck from continuously entering the net against the Blackhawks.
The Flyers then lost their home opener to the Anaheim Ducks where they could only capitalize on one of the seven power play opportunities presented to them. They capped off their week with a rather impressive victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Flyers erased an early two-goal deficit and scored six goals of their own.
Philadelphia’s first five games were essentially a tale of two teams. In some spots, they appeared to be a squad ready to get back into the postseason and make it out of the first round. At other times, they came off as a team completely lost. Luckily there are still 77 games left and time to work out all of the kinks.
Matt Read Version 2.0
What if I told you that Matt Read currently sits tied for second place in the entire league in goals with five? Would you believe me? If I were someone who hadn’t caught a game yet or looked at the stats, I’d probably say that that statement has to be false. However, it is completely true. To put it simply, Read has been on fire five games into the regular season.
In both the 2011-12 and 2013-14 season, Read demonstrated his ability to light the lamp by scoring over 20 goals. However, the past two seasons did not replicate those numbers as he only managed eight goals in 2014-15 and 11 in 2015-16. The question was no longer whether Read could be a prolific scorer for the Flyers, but whether or not he was going to even remain with the team.
All of a sudden the player we have seen take the ice the past two seasons has miraculously disappeared and been replaced with a man hungry to produce points. Read not only leads the Flyers in goals, he looks to be the most dangerous on the ice for the team thus far. It is apparent that he put in extra work during the offseason and it is clearly paying off. Of course, there is still plenty of hockey to be played and Read is sure to cool off; but if the Flyers can get the 20-plus goals they have gotten from him earlier in his career, they will certainly be in a good place.
Matt Read with another sweet goal. REDEMPTION TOUR. pic.twitter.com/J7kzy4ZPSz
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) October 21, 2016
The Rookie to Watch
Before the season began, the Flyers’ rookie that was receiving all of the attention was defenseman Ivan Provorov. However, the rookie to watch so far this season has been the former 24th-overall pick, Travis Konecny. The young forward has looked extremely comfortable on the second line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek and has five assists to show for it. Konecny is currently ranked fifth in points among rookies and is on pace to have an impressive year.
Ivan Provorov stretch pass leads to a dirty move and near-goal by Travis Konecny. Oh my god. pic.twitter.com/tiLGlPnpud
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) October 16, 2016
Konecny’s recent performance should not take away any excitement Flyers’ nation has for Provorov. The young blueliner is still sure to impress and will be a key piece of the orange and black for years to come. However, Philadelphia looks to have something really special in the 19-year-old from London, Ontario.
Someone’s Got to Go
This Tuesday, Flyers’ defenseman, Radko Gudas will make his season debut after serving a six-game suspension. With his return to the lineup, a member of Philadelphia’s current blueline has to be sent down. Before the season began, the thought was that it would be either Andrew MacDonald or Brandon Manning. Now, there really is no debate on to who needs to be sent down.
MacDonald has to be the one to go. Manning has looked too good early on to send him down and he could prove to be a real asset if this level of play continues. MacDonald, on the other hand, is much more of a liability than an asset. He is quite an expensive liability, but his salary can’t be a reason he gets a spot on the roster over someone who deserves it.
Raffl Out Two Weeks
It was announced this past Wednesday that Flyers’ winger, Michael Raffl will be out approximately 10 to 14 days with an upper-body injury that he suffered in Tuesday night’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Per #Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Michael Raffl is expected to be out 10 days to two weeks with an upper body injury.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 19, 2016
Raffl was filling in for Brayden Schenn on the Flyers’ first line with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. He scored one goal in Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
Philadelphia is fortunate to have an abundance of capable bodies at the forward position. However, it would still be beneficial to have all of the best players on the ice at the same time. That has yet to happen for the orange and black both up front and on the blueline. Using the timeline we were given, it is likely that Raffl will make his return on Wednesday, November 2nd, at home against the Detroit Red Wings.
Weise Suspended Three Games
Dale Weise was suspended three games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head on Anaheim Ducks’ defenseman, Korbinian Holzer, during Thursday night’s game in Philadelphia. This is Weise’s second suspension for an illegal check to the head in his career.
Philadelphia’s Dale Weise suspended three games for an illegal check to the head on Anaheim’s Korbinian Holzer. https://t.co/qNIEOS5XP3
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 21, 2016
The three-game suspension for Weise is completely appropriate as he clearly targets Holzer’s head instead of aiming the check for his body. The hit would have been clean if he did not go for Holzer’s head. Weise is the third member of the Flyers to miss games due to suspension and we are only five games into the season. Of course, Schenn’s suspension was the result of an incident during the playoffs last Spring but it still cost him three games this season. The team simply cannot afford for this to continue happening. Philadelphia needs all hands on deck if they want to make it into the playoffs again this season. Losing a guy due to reckless and dangerous play on the ice is unacceptable and could prove to be costly.
The Week Ahead
The Flyers have a busy week ahead of them as they take the ice on five separate occasions, include three games at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia starts off their week in Montreal for a Monday night showdown with the Canadiens. The team then travels back to Philadelphia where they will take on the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night. This game will feature the return of defenseman, Radko Gudas, who is currently serving a six-game suspension for interference on Bruins’ Austin Czarnik during a preseason game. Philadelphia will then look for revenge against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday after suffering an overtime loss to them in Arizona.
The first three games of the week for the Flyers will, of course, be a challenge but none of them compare to the test they will face on Saturday night against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, Pittsburgh Penguins, in Philadelphia. Flyers vs. Penguins is hands-down one of the best rivalries in sports and this weekend showdown between two longtime foes will not disappoint. After Saturday’s game, the team will then travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on the Hurricanes on Sunday evening.
This week will be a real opportunity for the Flyers to really get in the groove and acquire some points. At the same time, a rough week could really put the team in an early season hole. I expect the team to go 3-1-1 on the week with wins against Buffalo, Arizona, and Pittsburgh. The loss will be suffered at the hands on Montreal while they will achieve one point in an overtime loss to Carolina.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.