Off the top, it may seem puzzling to some fans. The Flyers stood near dead last in the NHL in goals per game at the beginning of the season. They were lifeless, they were boring, and it seemed like it was truly going to be a rebuilding year. That was the story in and around Philadelphia.
Here they stand four months later as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and holding down a playoff spot with two games in hand on the team right below them. That’s a far cry from the team that was near the bottom of the conference at 7-10-5 in mid-November.
But in reality, you shouldn’t be surprised. These are the Philadelphia Flyers and they’re here to stay.
Dave Hakstol has done a terrific job behind the bench and has had time to get his systems in place, the lines are starting to mesh and, most importantly, the Flyers are getting value out of all four lines they put on the ice.
As I mentioned above, the Flyers are getting terrific value from all four lines they put on the ice, night in and night out. Brayden Schenn has been scoring at a point per game pace since the All-Star break, and has been playing like a man possessed in the process. Wayne Simmonds is also averaging almost a point per game since the All-Star break, after a surprising slow start to the season. And the line of Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl, and Sam Gagner has dominated opposing teams while they’re on the ice. And even back on defense, guys like Radko Gudas and Andrew MacDonald have stepped in and played extremely well. Of course, I don’t even need to tell you about the direction Shayne Gostisbehere is going.
Let’s not forget the most important observation of them all: the Flyers are showing up for big games.
The team hasn’t faced a non-playoff team since the first week of March when they routed Columbus 6-0. Admittedly, almost every single Flyer fan I talked to thought it was great that the team was winning, but when looking at the upcoming schedule, they almost gasped and thought that it was nice while it lasted.
Here we are, two weeks later, and the Flyers gained at least a point out of every single game since, going 4-0-1 in the process. That is no small feat. What’s even more impressive is that team has averaged over four goals per game in the month of March, and they’ve only given up a little over two goals per game in that time span.
The core of the team right now, for the most part, is under 25 and they are starting to click on all cylinders. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the conference, considering they haven’t even gotten a taste of the Flyers excellent crop of prospects, including, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, or Sam Morin. And don’t forget that Jakub Voracek hasn’t touched since he was injured back in late February.
With Voracek’s return imminent, and the team playing the way they are, the Flyers future finally seems bright.
They haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet, but they’ve been giving everyone a glimpse of what the future holds for hockey in Philadelphia, and that is something any fan of the Orange and Black has to be excited about.
Featured Image courtesy of Amy Irvin
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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.