For all intensive purposes, the Philadelphia Flyers had themselves quite a successful week, winning three out of their four contests. Due to the acquisition of six much-needed points, the orange and black sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan division behind the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals.
The team started off its winning ways last Sunday in North Carolina against the Hurricanes, defeating Carolina 4-3. Philadelphia then received two important days off where they were finally able to get some rest after an extremely busy start to the season. The Flyers then demonstrated resiliency and a never give up style of play in comeback victories against the Red Wings and Islanders on back-to-back nights. They were able to score game-tying goals with time dwindling down in the third period in both games. The Flyers recorded the win against Detroit in overtime but had to wait until a shootout to get the victory in Brooklyn.
The only loss the team suffered came at the hands of the 10-1-1 Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. It was apparent that the Habs were going to come out with a vengeance after getting destroyed 10-0 by the Columbus Blue Jackets the night before. The Flyers stayed in the entire game but just could not do enough to push the game to overtime like they had the two previous contests. Of course, Philadelphia would have loved to end their week on a four-game winning streak. However, they will still be pleased with the six points they did acquire.
Offensively on Fire
The Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the best scoring teams in the National Hockey League 13 games into the regular season. Yes, you read that correctly! It appears that Philadelphia’s biggest weakness from the season prior has now transformed into the team’s biggest strength. The Flyers are ranked second in the league in goals-for with 45 and are averaging an impressive 3.46 goals per game.
Philadelphia has been receiving offensive contributions from many different players which demonstrates the depth this team actually has when it is firing on all cylinders. Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Matt Read are currently tied for the team lead in goals with six. Both Voracek and Simmonds have looked unstoppable early in the season while Read has appeared to cool off after his extremely hot start. Five Flyers have tallied three goals to this point and it looks like Travis Konecny has found his scoring touch, finding the back of the net in his last two games.
Travis Konecny with a beauty of a deflection for the goal pic.twitter.com/tg5aLOUqCV
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) November 6, 2016
Claude Giroux leads the team in points with 14 which is good enough to be tied for second with Steven Stamkos for most points in the league. The Flyers are at their best when both Giroux and Voracek are hot. So far, that has been the case this season. If the team can continue getting the effort it has out of their supporting cast, as well as improved play in net and on defense, the Flyers could turn into a force to be reckoned with this season.
The Goaltender of Choice
Since coming in for Steve Mason in the second period of the game against the Penguins, Michal Neuvirth has been the goaltender of choice for Dave Hakstol. Neuvirth started all four games this week, including the second game of a back-to-back. He came away victorious in every game but one but it can be argued that this was the result of good offensive play as opposed to strong goaltending.
Play between the pipes has arguably been the Flyers’ biggest weakness this season. Both Neuvirth and Mason have struggled mightily to keep the puck out of the net. Hakstol’s recent confidence in Neuvirth has come as a surprise because it is not like he has really been that good at all. He gave up three goals against Carolina and Detroit, and let in five against Montreal. I am all for riding the hot hand when it comes to goaltending, especially when there is not a defined number one netminder on the team. However, to say that Neuvirth has been hot would be 100% incorrect. It just appears that Hakstol has very little trust in Mason at this point.
Trade Him While He’s Hot
Before the start of the season, Matt Read was one of the name’s mentioned when discussing members of the Flyers who could be dealt before the deadline. However, his recent play has some questioning whether trading Read would still be a good idea. Not only should Philadelphia still trade away Read, they need to do sooner rather than later.
As I mentioned earlier, Read is currently tied for the lead in goals on the Flyers with six but has cooled off since his extremely hot start to the season. There is more evidence to suggest that his goal-scoring tear in the beginning of the year was more of a fluke than a new reality. However, the fact that he already has six goals this season could increase his value on the trade market. With all of the forward depth Philadelphia has, they can afford to get rid of Read. Even if he winds up shocking everyone with 20-plus goals this season.
I think it is inevitable that a Matt Read trade happens at some point this season if for no other reason than to shed some cap space. His value is never going to be as high as it is right now which means Ron Hextall has got to make something happen while he can still receive a meaningful return.
The Week Ahead
The Flyers are finally in for an easier week than what they have been experiencing thus far this season. Philadelphia has off until Tuesday night where they take on the Detroit Red Wings at home. The team then travels to Toronto to take on the young and exciting Maple Leafs on Friday night. The week is then capped off on Saturday where they will face off against the Minnesota Wild at home.
After experiencing their fair share of success this past week, the Flyers will look to keep things going and acquire some points to help them in their quest to reach the top three in the Metropolitan division. I predict that the orange and black will go 2-0-1 this week with wins against the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.