The Philadelphia Flyers enjoyed their best week of the season last week.
It just didn’t feel like it, though, right?
The team went 4-0, which included a pair of overtime wins against the New York Islanders, and enter the week tied for first in the East Division with the Washington Capitals.
However, each game was a grind. The Flyers were sloppy in a 5-3 win over the Devils on Tuesday but rebounded to compile a solid 3-1 victory two nights later. While they took care of the Islanders twice in OT on Saturday and Sunday, the Flyers squandered a two-goal lead in each contest.
In the end, all that matters is the two points – and the Flyers secured them in each game last week.
Let’s take a look at which players stood out and who didn’t in the third installment of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not.
We’d be remiss if the captain was omitted from this list – as much for reaching an impressive milestone as for his on-ice performance. Giroux played his 611th game as Flyers captain on Tuesday to pass Bobby Clarke for the most games played in the role in franchise history. Selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Giroux took over as the 19th captain from Chris Pronger in January of 2013. Clarke, who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987 and won MVP three times, served as captain from 1973-79 and 1982-84.
It also was Giroux’s most productive week on the ice. He played one of his best all-around games on Tuesday with three assists and was a plus-2, scored his first goal of the season in the second game against New Jersey, and had an assist in each game against the Islanders, including setting up the game-winner for Kevin Hayes in OT on Sunday.
When Matt Niskanen announced his surprise retirement this fall, the full weight of carrying the defense fell on Provorov’s broad shoulders. Nearly one-fifth of the way through the season, the former No. 1 draft pick has shown he’s up to the task. Provorov plays the most minutes of any player each night (he played 30:05 on Sunday), makes key plays on defense, and contributes on the offensive zone.
Last Tuesday, he had a three-point night (goal and two assists), which was the fifth career three-point game and first since March 3, 2018, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the week, he had five points and was a plus-3.
James van Riemsdyk
It’s safe to say JVR is a streaky player. When he’s cold, the veteran winger can seem invisible. However, when he hits a hot stretch, van Riemsdyk can look like the team’s best player.
Fortunately for the Flyers, JVR has found his groove in the first few weeks of the season. After a handful of strong games against the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins the week of Jan. 18, the New Jersey native carried the momentum into last week.
He scored two power-play goals and had a team-high seven shots on goal on Tuesday. Then, he added an assist on Nate Prosser’s goal in the first period on Thursday, another on Kevin Hayes’s tally on Saturday, and three more on Sunday. Through the first 10 games of the season, JVR is tied for the team lead with five goals and leads the Flyers in points with 12.
The second-year forward became the third Flyer in franchise history to record a regular-season hat trick before his 21st birthday when he potted three goals on Sunday against the Islanders, according to NHL Stats & Information. He joined Mike Richards and Eric Lindros to accomplish the feat and is the second-youngest overall to record a hat trick.
Farabee had a goal and three assists in the season opener but had just one goal in his last eight games before erupting on Sunday.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault sent a stern message to the entire team, and especially the veterans, over the weekend when he benched Konecny. Even though TK entered the game tied for the team lead in goals with five, and sported a plus-5 rating, the coach scratched him due to a recent poor performance in five-on-five play. While Konecny took the blame, Vigneault could have chosen from a handful of top forwards to set an example. Either way, the coach put everyone – from rookies to all-stars – on notice that he won’t tolerate anything less than a stellar effort at both ends of the ice.
“Right now our 5-on-5 play is not where it needs to be,” Vigneault told reporters after a practice last Friday. “I’ve been talking to the players about it for some time, areas that I believe that we need to be better at, areas that we have been good at in the past. TK is the one (Saturday) that is not going to play. His 5-on-5 game needs to be better in the areas that he’s aware of.”
We didn’t see much of Hagg last week, and there’s a good explanation – he was benched for two games. The defenseman was removed from the lineup – and replaced by journeyman Nate Prosser – due to lackluster play. Hagg played on Tuesday but was a minus-1 in just over 16 minutes of ice time. He entered the week tied for the team lead in hits but was falling short in many other areas.
“I think Haggs has been average the last couple of games,” Vigneault told reporters. “In my estimation … I believe that he can be a much more effective defenseman in killing plays and in his one-on-one battles – winning more (of them) – and making the right decision with the puck. I’ve talked to him about that, making the higher percentage plays. He’s a good player, he’s a good defenseman for us. Right now, his game is not where it needs to be.”
The Flyers This Week
Looking ahead, the Flyers have a beast of a week – probably their toughest yet this season.
They host the third-place Boston Bruins on Wednesday and Friday before traveling to D.C. to face the Capitals. The Flyers start the week tied for first with Washington, who has played one less game and have yet to lose in regulation.
The Bruins took both games against the Flyers earlier this season. They rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to win in overtime and also handed the Flyers a 6-1 drubbing. It will be the first meeting this season between the Flyers and Capitals.
I have over 10 years of experience covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The South Jersey Times/nj.com and the Philadelphia Metro. Throughout the past decade, I have covered regular season, playoff, and outdoor games, and I have interviewed the best players in the NHL to guys on the fourth line and front office personnel. My coverage includes a balanced, insightful, and objective perspective, and my stories range from being analytical, opinionated, and even a little fun.