The Philadelphia Flyers have not had the best of starts to the season. But somehow, the Flyers stand at 8-3-3, good for second place in the East, or the MassMutual division. With their less than ideal play, one would think that the Flyers would be closer to the bottom of the division. Last year, playoffs aside, the Flyguys were one of the best teams in the league … and I do not mean that lightly. In recent years, I would rather watch a team of squirrels on skates try to win hockey games than the Flyers. But Philadelphia were one of the best last season. Their play right now is all too similar to their playoff run; defined by slow play and no hustle.
So, how is a team that is by no means playing strong hockey right now, second in the East?
Quick Flashes Of Brilliance
Throughout the season, the Flyers have played long stretches of boring hockey. One would think that the Flyers would be a horrible team, but that is not the case. At the start of the season, the Flyers have not looked their best, but they have managed to keep on winning. During these early games, Philadelphia have not had any games where they completely dominated. But, in the early going, the Flyers will play about 1-2 minutes of brilliant hockey. Is there a reason that Philly cannot play to this caliber all of the time? Maybe they just want the season to be interesting, I really do not know.
Below is just one example from this season of the level of hockey that the Flyers can play.
Throughout all the Flyers boring and monotonous play, sparks of brilliance can be found. This is truly the strangest universe that we live in … somehow, the Flyers have a great record but are playing pretty poor hockey.
Carter Hart has not been the shutdown goalie that we fans have come to know and love. But, that cannot be expected when your team look like a couple of traffic cones on skates. For the level of play that the Flyers are producing, Hart looks solid. On the other hand, I am very happy with Brian Elliot. In no way do I want Elliot to start over Hart, but it is nice to see that Philadelphia has a capable backup.
Below is an example of Hart flashing brilliance.
Both net-minders have been solid, but Elliot has truly surprised me. Maybe if the rest of the Flyguys played NHL caliber hockey, Hart and Elliot would have better numbers. And with a record of 5-2, I would say that Hart is doing a pretty good job.
Philadelphia has had a few unlikely stars this season that are carrying this team. Players like James van Riemsdyk and Joel Farabee are two driving forces behind this team. JVR, who only produced 19 goals and 21 assists last season, is off to a fantastic start this season. In 14 games, JVR has produced 18 points (7G, 11A). Even though we are currently in the JVR revenge tour, I still believe that he should be the player to be given to new expansion team in Seattle. Despite his hot start, I still think that it would be best to give JVR up. He is to streaky of a player, and his contract is a heavy hit.
Boy, is van Riemsdyk having a great year! Where was this last season, JVR?
Farabee is playing very good hockey. In his rookie season, Farabee only produced 8 goals and 13 assists in 52 games. In only 14 games, Farabee has scored 7 times and assisted 6 times. Very early into the year, Farabee has almost topped last season. Philly Joel is smarter and faster than he was last season, and his play shows. If the Flyers did not have Farabee, I do not think they would be in the position that they are in. Philadelphia is lucky to be receiving such strong play from Farabee, as he is one of the reasons that the Flyers are not a complete dumpster fire.
Above is one of the many goals from Farabee this year … and it is a beauty.
I want to hear your thoughts. Why do you think that the Flyers have a positive record despite their play?
By: Ryan Meyer (@RyanLMeyer)
Photo Credit: nhl.com, Brandon Murphy on Twitter.