The Philadelphia Flyers might not have another game this season. That would be especially disappointing given how well the team had been playing. Unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of strong individual Flyer performances in such a strong season. While, we await the future of this season, let’s look back at the top forward, defense and goaltender performances.
Brian Elliott: Jan. 21 vs. PIT (3-0 W)
Despite getting outplayed by Carter Hart and serving as his backup this season, Brian Elliott gets the nod for top goaltender performance.
Elliott was the difference in this game, recording his first of two shutouts this season. Having won just four of their previous 10 games, the Flyers needed a strong performance from their netminder, and fortunately he was up to the task. Even better, he gave the Flyers their first win of the season over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. This helped avenge a 7-1 Penguins’ victory from when the teams met back in October.
Elliott’s best friend in this game was the goal post, as it bailed him out twice. Besides these two scares, he did not have much activity in net. He only faced 19 shots and stopped all of them.
Still, he made a couple of huge saves to keep the Penguins off the scoreboard. The first was on a driving Sidney Crosby in the closing moments of the second period. Elliott was just able to get the top of his glove to redirect the puck. The other was on Bryan Rust from point-blank range halfway through the third period.
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This game was the Flyers’ last before their bye week, and gave the team some positive momentum to build upon in the second half of the season. Unfortunately, the team lost in overtime 4-3 to these same Penguins in their very next game; however, the Flyers would win 14 of their next 18 games.
For Elliott, a pending unrestricted free agent, time will tell if he could have used a few more performances like this one to earn another contract in Philadelphia.
Travis Sanheim: Dec. 23 vs. NYR (5-1 W)
Ironically, Travis Sanheim earned the top defenseman performance thanks to his offensive production. In this 5-1 victory over the New York Rangers, he became the first Flyer defenseman to score two goals in a game this season. This feat would be matched only one other time this season by none other than Sanheim himself less than a month later.
He got the scoring started for the Flyers with less than two seconds to go in the second period. Up until that point, Henrik Lundqvist had been stellar in net for the Rangers while protecting their 1-0 lead.
Entering the third period tied 1-1, Sanheim and the Flyers took things up a notch in the final frame. The team exploded for 4 goals to earn a 5-1 victory. He scored one of these goals and also assisted on the final goal for good measure. His primary assist set up Nicolas Aube-Kubel’s first-career goal. Sanheim finished the game with a plus-3, tying his season high.
Despite his important offensive contributions, Sanheim failed to record any hits or block any shots in this game. That was somewhat of a problem for him this season. In 16 of his 69 games, he did not register any hits or blocked shots. As a result, he was fifth in blocked shots and sixth in hits this season among Flyers’ defensemen. At just 23 years of age, Sanheim still has time to improve his defensive intensity as he develops into one of the team’s premier defensemen.
Sean Couturier: Feb. 8 at WAS (7-2 W)
After recording three hat tricks in each of the past two seasons, the Flyers failed to record any this season. Still, there were many impressive performances from Flyer forwards this season, including this one from Sean Couturier.
In one of their most impressive victories of the season, the Flyers tied a season high with seven goals in a tough road matchup with the Washington Capitals. Couturier played a big part in the barrage with two goals and an assist.
Couturier was an offensive threat throughout the game with five shots on goal. His first goal, about 15 minutes into the game, opened the scoring for both teams. He scored his second goal early in the second period thanks to a beautiful move while on a breakaway. He later added an assist on Claude Giroux’s five-on-three goal in the third period. He finished the game with a plus-2.
In addition to his scoring, Couturier helped lead the Flyers to victory with his dominance on face-offs. He won 14 of 18, good for 77.8%. The 14 face-off wins were second most this season from perhaps the Flyers’ top face-off man.
Though likely honored to be recognized in this article, Couturier has his sights on a greater award: the Selke Trophy. With an all-around strong season, he has a good chance to take home the trophy for the first time in his career.
As for the rest of the Flyers, whether they receive any NHL awards or not, they should be proud of the season their team had. There were many strong individual performances to choose from for this article. As a result, even if this season does not continue, Flyer fans should feel optimistic about their team’s chances next season.