Just a mere two and a half weeks ago, the Flyers sat near the basement of the Metropolitan Division with a mediocre 9-10-3 record and a defense that was giving up north of three goals per game.
Fast-forward to now and the team is riding a 9-game winning streak, has a goalie that looks like he was shot out of a cannon, and has a new player stepping up as the hero night in and night out.
Where did all of this come from?
Well for starters, the Flyers have been scoring goals at will the whole season, but their defense and their goaltending was not holding up their end of the bargain. Mason and Neuvirth were both struggling and the defense had their holes.
Those problems have seemingly disappeared. When one aspect of the team is struggling, someone else will be there to pick them up and vice versa. That cycle has propelled the Flyers to new heights.
Teamwork Leading to Wins
The Flyers started out this season on a bad note. They were 4-5-1 as October came to a close, and struggling mightily to keep the puck out of their net. That became a common theme all the way through November. The team would show promise, then regress, which left them with a record right around .500 night in and night out.
Then like clockwork, the Flyers flipped it into another gear. The winning streak started against Calgary with Anthony Stolarz’s NHL debut. He played exceptionally well in that game. Since then, the team has never looked back. The winning streak has included shootout wins, overtime wins, and improbable comebacks, such as the one against Edmonton.
However, through all of this, one thing has remained consistent. Everyone on the ice is contributing night in and night out, and guys are stepping up in the biggest ways possible.
That streak ended in the 1-0 victory over Detroit, but the message still rings true.
Over the course of this win streak, someone has stood out nearly every night, whether it be a goal scorer, goalie, or defenseman. Amidst this win streak, Mason has stopped over 40 shots on two occasions and Anthony Stolarz managed to win his NHL debut then post a shutout on the tail end of back to back games.
Oh, and let’s not forget about Ivan Provorov, who is very quickly making a case to be the top defenseman in Philly.
Let's not forget this play by Ivan Provorov. pic.twitter.com/8E0AdLGS66
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) December 7, 2016
That play above happened moments before Jake Voracek netted the game-winner against the Florida Panthers. Plays like those show that the Flyers are playing like a well-oiled machine, clicking on all cylinders.
The end of the calendar year has become synonymous with hard times for the Philadelphia Flyers. Here are their records after 31 games over the past few seasons:
- 2015-16: 13-12-6 (32 P)
- 2014-15: 11-14-6 (28 P)
- 2013-14: 13-15-3 (29 P)
- 2013: 13-16-2 (28 P)
- 2011-12: 20-8-3 (43 P)
Currently, the Flyers sit at 18-10-3 with 39 points, and as you can see, the only time they were remotely close to that was during the 2011-12 season, in which many people thought they had a shot at the Stanley Cup.
The Flyers have suffered in recent years from very slow starts. Despite making the playoffs last season, they still struggled early on and had to claw their way back, clinching the eighth seed in the 81st game of the season.This year seems to be playing out differently, and that could be huge for the Flyers, especially come playoff time. The Flyers have now created a nine-point buffer between themselves and the cut-off line. Aside from that, they’ve also set themselves up to contend for the first spot in the Metro Division. That could be huge come April.
Regardless of where the Flyers end up next April, the one thing that is certain right now is that they are playing some extremely good hockey. That’s something that this team has struggled to do early on in the season for the past few years now. It’s also something that will become very important down the stretch.
This is the unfamiliar territory that the Flyers have found themselves in. Instead of worrying about how to fix things, the Flyers are playing great hockey. That’s something that many teams envy this early on in the season, and it’s something that can play into the hands of the team down the line.
It’s better to be playing for playoff seedings rather than fighting for your playoff lives. That’s what the Flyers are setting themselves up to do.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.