The Flyers are once again off to a troubling start. They finally collected their first win, five games into the season. Coming off of a wild 6-5 road-victory over the Dallas Stars, the Orange and Black must now go into battle with the Chicago Blackhawks. While the first five games were hard, the last five are no easier. Following tonight’s battle with Chicago, the Flyers close out October with games against the Penguins, Red Wings, Kings, and Lightning. Not exactly a cakewalk. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this season, thus far.
Most of the team’s struggles have fallen at the offenses feet. However, it may be undeserved. The offense currently ranks third in GPG (Goals Per Game), with an average of 3.4 per game. Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek are all off to a hot start, recording a team high 7 points, in the first 5 games. Giroux and Simmonds have recorded more than half of their points on the power-play. Much like the offense, the power-play ranks in the top-five of the NHL. Currently sporting a 31% success rate on the man-advantage, the Flyers have been able to spread the wealth around, with nine different Flyers recording at least one point on the power-play.
While the Flyer offense has been pretty solid to start the year, there have been a few disappointments this season. Sean Couturier, and Brayden Schenn have had difficulty getting going, combining for 5 points. Both entered the season with high-expectations, and short-leashes, but neither has impressed thus far. Couturier has played his normal excellent-defense, while Schenn has continued to lack in that department. For Schenn, he must improve his game quickly, as a recent report suggests that without a performance turnaround, he could be on his way out-of-town.
It’s true that the offense can take its’ share of the blame, but the defense holds an awfully large chunk of it. Recently acquired Michael Del Zotto has been a solid fit, in place of Kimmo Timonen. Recording just over 18 minutes per game, Del Zotto ranks ninth amongst Flyers in ATOI (Average Time On Ice), behind the likes of Claude Giroux and Mark Streit. Speaking of Streit, he and fellow defender Andrew MacDonald have proven that they are reliable defensive anchors, with both playing excellent hockey over roughly 24 minutes of ATOI. Just like the offense though, the defense has its’ own disappointment; Luke Schenn. Schenn is a -6 on the year so far, recording just over 16 minutes per game. He also leads the team in penalty minutes. Only two Flyer defenders have a + rating however, Brayden Coburn and Nicklas Grossman.
In net, Steve Mason and Ray Emery have been iffy. Mason hasn’t exactly been “solid”, recording an 0-2-1 record, with a 3.38 GAA, and a .865 save percentage. It almost looks like that concussion that Mason suffered at the end of last season, is still having some lasting effects on his play. Emery on the other hand, has shone through the cracks. Sporting a cool 1-0-1 record, with a 2.73 GAA, and a .907 save percentage. Emery just seems to be better overall this season, moving better than Mason side-to-side, in addition to having better reflexes.
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Tags: NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Ryan Waterman