After an above-average start to the season, the Philadelphia Flyers went on a 10-game skid, plummeting in the standings. Since then, they have got nine of 10 points in the standing. This inconsistent season and the real lack of scoring and poor defensive play can be attributed to almost the entire team.
Having said that, there are a few key players that especially have to pick up their game if the Flyers want to get back into contention this season.
Sean Couturier has gotten Selke Trophy votes since he entered the NHL in 2011-12. Year after year he has proven to be one of the most dominant two-way centres in the game, but this year has been a bit different. Inconsistencies in his game and a minus-6 rating through the first 29 games is concerning in helping prevent goals as everyone is so used to.
The start of the season went well for Couturier, offensively and defensively, recording five goals and 13 points in the first 14 games. Then the losing streak started. Since then, he has recorded one goal and three assists in 15 games. Not only has his offensive production fallen off, but he has consistently either been on or completely off every night. He was a minus-9 during the 10-game losing streak where he added just one assist. In the past five games, he has started to elevate his game.
From Couturier’s standards and what is now expected of him offensively, his 17 points in 29 games, good for a 0.58 points per game, is nowhere near what he has provided the Flyers for the last four seasons. The last time he had a points per game that low was before he broke out in 2016-17.
If the Flyers can get Couturier back up to the offensive output he has been at in recent years, it will greatly help his confidence, as well as increase the team’s offensive production. There is less concern for his defensive game since at his core, he still has all the tools to be a Selke Trophy contender, but consistency is key.
Though the points by Ivan Provorov aren’t horrible for a defenceman, they aren’t exactly where they need to be from a No. 1 defenceman, especially the goals. You can generally expect goals to come from him, but not so much this season. He has two goals in 29 games and has his worst shooting percentage (3.8%) since his rookie year.
Another contributing factor is the amount of shots he has managed to get through and on net. Provorov has only managed to get 44.5 percent of his shots attempts on net as opposed to his career average of 50.4 percent. This can cause odd-man rushes and opportunities against as well as less offensive chances for. The more shots that are blocked or miss the net, the better the opportunity that the other team will gain possession of the puck and come back the other way.
The big issue came last season when Provorov failed to play well once he was without a veteran partner in Matt Niskanen. General manager Chuck Fletcher made defence his main focus and got Provorov a top-pairing partner, but the ongoing injury problems with Ryan Ellis has only allowed him to dress for four games this season. In his absence, Provorov has continued to show he can’t carry the full load of a top-pairing defenceman.
Though he has had Justin Braun as a partner, it hasn’t been enough to kickstart Provorov into regaining his form. Maybe once Ellis returns from injury and chemistry continues to build, we will see Provorov play like the defenceman he was on track to becoming before last season.
Just like many of the Flyers, Joel Farabee played well at the start of the season. But in his case, he was lights out, scoring three goals and six points in the first three games. He had appeared to be on the same path as last season when he led the team in goals, the second-youngest Flyer to ever do so. After his very hot start, he seemingly dropped off the map completely, recording one goal in the following 14 games.
Just when Farabee had started to turn his season back around, an injury halted him in his tracks after three goals in three consecutive games. Upon his return after more than two weeks on the shelf, he scored in his return. With games hopefully starting up again soon, let’s hope that another break hasn’t made Farabee lose any momentum because as the Flyers are starting to turn things around, his scoring ability will be a big part of the success.
2022 will be a big year for the Flyers, and after a lot of offseason changes and a recent coaching change, expectations will be even higher, as well as the need for a couple of recently signed stars to play to their potential.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
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