January 07, 2017
The Flyers officially hit the midpoint of their 2016-17 season on Saturday when they hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning for a matinee at the Wells Fargo Center. They also welcomed back goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made his first start since Nov. 12 after suffering a knee injury.
With their 4-2 win, the Orange and Black snapped a five-game skid – it was their first win in regulation since Dec. 14 – and are now 21-15-5 (47 points) through their first 41 games.
They entered the weekend in fifth place in a dominant Metropolitan Division – and one point ahead of the Bruins for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot – thanks in large part to an impressive 10-game win streak last month.
That stretch helped make up for a sluggish start to Dave Hakstol's second season at the helm and, with Neuvirth sidelined with a knee injury, gave goalie Steve Mason a chance to start on a nightly basis, something from which he (and the team) benefited greatly.
That being said, there's been both good and bad from the Flyers this season.
For example, they were fifth in the NHL in goals scored but 28th in goals allowed (and last in the Eastern Conference) prior to facing the Lightning. They've scored the second most power play goals in the NHL (7th in PP%), but are much more pedestrian on the kill (15th in PP goals allowed; 19th in PK percentage).
Still, they have the sixth most points in the East – don't worry, there's still another caveat – but have played more games than all but two teams, leaving them 8th in terms of points percentage. As we already mentioned, however, they're still in playoff position, which is the most important thing moving forward.
And as the team looks to put the first half behind them in order to focus on the home stretch, let's take a look down the roster to see who's report card is going up on the fridge, and who may have a parent-teacher conference in the near future.
That's right, it's time for midterm grades, starting with the offense...
|RW Jakub Voracek||40||13-24||37||-11||39|
|C Claude Giroux||40||10-23||33||-7||24|
|RW Wayne Simmonds||40||17-15||32||-9||67|
|C Brayden Schenn||37||11-13||24||-9||26|
|C Travis Konecny||39||5-14||19||-2||35|
|LW Michael Raffl||30||7-3||10||1||13|
|RW Matt Read||29||6-4||10||-2||2|
|C Chris VandeVelde||40||5-5||10||-5||8|
|C Nick Cousins||34||4-6||10||-5||21|
|C Sean Couturier||24||6-3||9||-4||14|
|LW Roman Lyubimov||28||3-1||4||-1||6|
|RW Dale Weise||35||2-2||4||-1||15|
|LW Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||40||1-3||4||-1||2|
|LW Taylor Leier||10||1-1||2||-1||4|
|C Boyd Gordon||12||1-0||1||-4||2|
Wayne Simmonds, RW: He leads the Flyers in goals scored – both of the greasy variety and otherwise – and is on pace to post a career-high in that category. He's done a bit of everything for the Flyers, so it's no surprise he gets the highest grade possible. GRADE: A
Claude Giroux, C: Of his 33 points, 17 have come on the power play, putting him third in the NHL in PP scoring – not to mention the impact it's had on the Flyers' seventh-ranked power play unit. He's also pretty good at face-offs, ranking third in total wins and sporting a 54.3 win percentage. A-
Jake Voracek, RW: Considering where he was statistically through his first 40 games last season (4 G, 22 A), it's a huge relief to see Voracek having a bounce-back year. He's cooled down as of late, recording just five points in his last 10 games prior to Saturday, but that's on the heels of a stretch in which he recorded 15 points in eight games – and 10 in the final four games. So, yeah, he's doing just fine. B+
Brayden Schenn, C: It's funny what a couple of game-winners can do for your grades. During the Flyers 10-game win streak, Schenn had a stretch in which he scored the deciding goal in three straight games, including one against Detroit in which he notched a hat trick. B+
Travis Konecny, LW: His grade probably wouldn't be this high if he wasn't a 19-year-old rookie. But being that he is, Konecny gets a pass for things like that goal drought that lasted more than 20 games. Overall, it's hard not to like what you've seen out of the young forward, and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to improve as the season progresses. B+
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, C: He's been solid for the Flyers this season, and what he lacks in scoring he more than makes up for with his ability to match up against some of the game's top stars. After all, that's what they want out of Bellemare. B
Sean Couturier, C: An injury has limited him to just 24 games, not all of which he's played at 100 percent. Because of that, it's hard to give him a grade that accurately represents his play this season. When he's healthy, he's still the team's best two-way player and thanks to Bellemare's ability to fill on checking duties against some pretty dangerous scorers, he wasn't missed as badly as one might expect. Still it's nice to have Coots back on the ice. B
Taylor Leier, LW: Leier's hot start after being called-up resulted in the 22-year-old's promotion to the top line alongside Giroux and Voracek. That, however, didn't last very long and he's now been a healthy scratch in three straight games. Still, there have been flashes from Leier, who has only played in 16 total NHL games. B-
Nick Cousins, C: Cousins didn't get off to a great start, but filled in nicely for Couturier when the third-line center went down with an injury. Sure, it was step down from Coots to Cousins, but that speaks more to how good Couturier is than anything else. B-
Matt Read, RW: Like some of the Flyers other forwards, Read was limited by an injury during the first half, holding him to just 10 points in 29 games. That being said, five of those points game during the first five games of the season. Over his next 22 games before suffering that oblique injury, Read tallied just five more points. He's recently rejoined the Flyers, so hopefully we'll be able to give him a more accurate grade by the end of the season. For now... C+
Michael Raffl, LW: I don't want to kill Raffl for his lack of offensive production, because there's something to be said about him being the only Flyers forward with a plus-rating. That being said, 10 points in 30 games just isn't enough. C
Chris VandeVelde, LW: He's about as average as it gets. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just ... average. C
Roman Lyubimov, RW: He's young. He's stilling learning the NHL game. He doesn't see a ton of time on the ice. I'm not sure I feel comfortable giving him anything higher than a C. Or anything lower. C
Boyd Gordon, C: Who? Oh, yeah. That guy. He's, uh, on the team. So that's something. C- (I guess?)
Dale Weise, RW: He's scored two goals this season. He's getting paid more than $2 million this season. You do the math. D
We'll be back tomorrow with our grades for the defense and goalies.