The Flyers’ five-day bye week comes after riding a three-game winning streak and having played some of their best hockey recently with a record of 11-4-1 since Dec. 4th.
The question is “Are the Orange and Black starting to turn the corner?” After an inconsistent start and a nerve-racking 10 game losing streak, it is nice to have some positive Flyers hockey. There are some signs of growth and increase energy coming from the Wells Fargo Center.
The 4-1-win Sunday over Buffalo was the shot in the arm that backup goalie Michal Neuvirth needed, who hasn’t seen ice time since November. His last victory was against the Blues on November 2nd. He noted it was “a huge win for him.” He noted frustration and doubt since his injury and not being able to help his team.
Another glimmer of hope is Sean Couturier. No one would have thought Couturier could move to the top line. He has been having a career year. Career highs already with 23 goals and 42 points while still playing his defensive position like a boss. He is currently the Flyers’ best all-around player. Couturier is the first Flyer to reach the 20-goal mark in the first half of the season since Danny Briere in the 2010-11 season.
Let’s check in on some of the other players. Claude Giroux has turnaround his game after having to overcome injuries and setbacks. He has been more effective in open ice, especially over the past 20 games. Giroux recently turned 30 years old.
The Wayne-Train has slowed down a bit. Wayne Simmonds started with a hat-trick in the season opener. Simmonds has struggled at even strength. There are rumors that he’s fighting through injuries as his speed and stride appear to be slower this season.
The young 2nd overall pick, Nolan Patrick, has struggled as the Flyers’ second-line center earlier in the season. The young Flyer looks tentative at times and needs to gain more confidence.
This season proves that Ivan Provorov’s rookie year was no fluke. He is turning out to be one hell of a defenseman. Stats show that when teamed with Shayne Gostisbehere his offensive is elevated. Ghost is third among NHL defensemen in scoring going into the bye.
Future young talent, Carter Hart, give even more hope to Flyers fans. People are chomping at the bit to get this young man in between the pipes. He will most likely be joining the team in the next year or two. Goalie development can be a crapshoot.
The big question mark in my eyes is the coach, Dave Hakstol (and his stupid face). The season could have been done during the 10-game losing streak, but Hakstol maintained the belief the team wasn’t playing bad as they actually were. I believe he could have been quicker in making adjustments in lineups, or working more with his young players. He lacks the emotion we have been accustomed to over the years in our coaches. The fact is he still has his team positioned for a playoff run. The jury is still out on Hakstol and his abilities to head coach. Every Philly sports member from North Dakota can’t be an instant success.
Let see where the 2nd half of the season takes the fly-guys and maybe Philly will get some playoff hockey. The Flyers currently sit 10th in the Eastern division.
Written by: Al Zaffiri