The Flyers have emerged from their tumultuous 10-game losing skid with back to back wins over the Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes, but is this a sign of things to come? With Alain Vigneault out as head coach, that question is now up to the players to decide. In a stacked Metropolitan division where five teams could easily make the playoffs, making up ground is not an easy task. However, I believe that the Flyers have taken a step in the right direction. With the amount of leadership currently in the dressing room, this season is not over yet, not by a long shot.
Why So Optimistic?
The Puck Has Finally Found the Back of the Net
Confidence is something that even analytics can’t measure, but the Flyers were sure lacking it in recent weeks. What can fix that problem? Goal scoring. It sounds simple, but scoring goals is exactly what the doctor ordered. Over their dreaded 10-game losing streak, the Flyers averaged 1.8 goals per game and were shutout multiple times. Between the Vegas and Arizona games, the team piled up nine goals. Among those nine goals, James Van Riemsdyk was responsible for three and Sean Couturier potted one. After both players were held scoreless for more than 10 games each, it was nice to see them get on the board. If the Flyers are going to claw back into the Wild Card race, the big boys will need to start producing consistently.
The Power Play Is Clicking
Woohoo! The Power Play is starting to generate high danger chances by keeping the formula simple. With Giroux playing the left wall, Yandle distributing at the point, Konecny stirring up trouble, and Van Riemsdyk deflecting pucks, the Flyers Power Play has struck on three of its last six chances. Given how lifeless and out of sorts the Power Play has looked the past month, its recent success is uplifting. Oh, by the way, Claude Giroux has become the Flyers all-time leader in Power Play points with 334 on the man advantage. Stick taps to the captain for passing Bobby Clarke, an impressive accomplishment to say the least.
Opportunities Are Ripe for the Taking
The Flyers ran through quite the gauntlet recently, having played contenders such as Tampa Bay, Florida, Colorado, Carolina, and the New York Rangers during their double digit losing streak. This week, the task at hand gets a little easier. After wins against Vegas and Arizona, the Flyers’ next three opponents are New Jersey, Montreal, and Ottawa. With a combined record of 24-47-9, the Flyers need to take advantage of the matchups with teams near or below them in the standings.
New Jersey has proven to be a problem for the Flyers this year, as they have already won twice in head-to-head matchups. Mackenzie Blackwood has given the Devils solid goaltending this year, as he is coming into the week with a .911 save percentage. I’d love to see forwards like James Van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes work in the dirty areas to blur his vision in the upcoming matchup, should Blackwood get the nod.
The two teams up north are no pushover either as Nick Suzuki and Brady Tkachuk are leading their teams with strong efforts this season. Tkachuk most recently scored a hat trick against Tampa Bay on Saturday, and will need to be shut down in order for the Flyers to come out on top. After finally having a full practice with Mike Yeo at the helm, I’m looking forward to what the Flyers can put on the ice this week. Call me crazy, but my Flyers glass is half-full.
By: Jacob Hollamby (@Jaqueezyyyy)
Photo Credit: NHL.com / @philadelphiaflyers Instagram