January 08, 2017
The Flyers officially hit the midpoint of their 2016-17 season on Saturday when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2, at the Wells Fargo Center to snap their five-game losing streak.
Currently, they're 21-15-5 and are hanging on for dear life to the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. We've already graded out the Flyers forwards, and considering Dave Hakstol's team is near the top of the league in goals scored and near the bottom in goals against, you're likely to see some lower grades this time around.
That being said, the Flyers have gotten more points from their defensemen than any other team in the league, so it hasn't been all bad. Plus, the future looks bright with the play of rookie Ivan Provorov.
Let's not waste any more time -- because we'll get into all that soon enough -- and dive right into our midterm grades for the Flyers defensive players and goalies.
|Michael Del Zotto||24||4-6||10||-5||4|
Ivan Provorov, D: Much like Travis Konecny on the offensive side, Provorov gets graded on a slight curve because of his age and lack of NHL experience. The 19-year-old rookie has opened plenty of eyes this season playing on the top defensive pairing while contributing 16 points, second among Flyers blue-liners. Furthermore, Provorov is the only defenseman to play in all 41 games. He also had that game against the Blackhawks earlier this season in which he netted a pair and singlehandedly (no pun intended) saved a goal all in the same afternoon. That alone is worth a half-grade bump. GRADE: A-
Mark Streit, D: The elder statesman of the Flyers defense was playing well before going down with a shoulder injury last month. At 39, not only is he five years older than the next oldest defenseman, Nick Schultz, but he's 19 years older than the youngest defenseman, Provorov, who will turn 20 in a few days. Despite that, he was averaging more PPG (0.52) than any other Flyers defenseman, making his $4 million cap hit much easier to swallow. It also helps that he's making the same (or less than) several less productive teammates like Andrew MacDonald ($4.75M), Michael Del Zotto ($4M) and Radko Gudas ($4M). B
Radko Gudas, D: Expectations are a two-way street -- we'll get into the bad side of them in just a second -- and so far this season, Gudas has been surpassing them. Typically known as an enforcer and not a scorer, Gudas has already matched his assist total from a year ago in just 31 games played. Last season, he finished with 14 points (5 G, 9 A) in 73 games. This year, he already has 11 points (2 G, 9 A) and could match his career high of 22 points (3 G, 19 A in 73 games) he set in 2013-14 with Lightning. Oh, and he's also the only Flyers defenseman with a positive rating through the first half of the season. B
Shayne Gostisbehere, D: The GhostBear should be getting similar treatment to Konecny and Provorov given that he didn't even play a full NHL season last year. However, he was so productive and so efficient as a rookie that elevated expectations could be part of the reason we're being so hard on the kid. Then again, it's a little worrisome that he leads the defense with 19 points, but somehow also has the worst plus-minus rating on the team, twice as bad as the next closest defenseman. B-
Brandon Manning, D: He got off to a hot start, recording all nine of his points in the first 17 games of the season while posting a plus-4 rating. In his 18 games since, Manning has failed to record a point and has a minus-10 rating. He gets an A for the first quarter and a D- for the second quarter. As for an overall grade for the first half? C
Michael Del Zotto, D: MDZ missed the first few weeks of the season while recovering from an injury and just hasn't quite been able to put it all together. He's clearly an offensive-minded D-man, but 10 points in 24 games isn't quite enough. He's also in the middle of a cold streak in which he's recorded just a pair of points (G, A) in his last 12 games. That being said, he's one of the guys with the best chance to improve his grade before final report cards are handed out a few months from now. C
Andrew MacDonald, D: The 30-year-old is the Flyers' highest-paid defenseman, and that will forever baffle me. Come to think of it, MacDonald is not all that different from what Andre Iguodala was to the Sixers. He wouldn't be bad if he was on the team's third defensive line, and was getting paid a commensurate salary. But given his nearly $5M cap hit, his lack of production, and the fact that he's sometimes a liability out there, I can't offer up a good grade here. C-
Nick Schultz, D: He's been a healthy scratch most nights and will make $2.75M this season. I feel like that should tell me all I need to know in order to grade him, but it doesn't seem fair to rip him simply because he isn't out there every game. Then again, Hakstol probably has a pretty good reason for keeping him out. D
Anthony Stolarz, G: It's an incredibly small sample size -- but you know what, you deserve this, kid. A
Steve Mason, G: Mason looked pretty bad to start the season. Then, right when the team needed him most, he helped shoulder much off the added workload when backup Michal Neuvirth went down with an injury. Then, right as Neuvirth was preparing to come back, Mason found himself mired in a five-game losing streak -- despite the fact that his numbers weren't much worse than they were during his eight-game win streak the preceded it. B+
Michal Neuvirth, G: I know Mason enjoys playing on a more regular basis, but with a back-to-back this weekend and five-straight losses under his belt, no one could've been happier to see Neuvirth return than the Flyers starter. He picked up the 4-2 win over the Lightning on Saturday in his first game in almost two months. Like Stolarz, there's not much of a sample size on which to base my grade. That being said, the numbers we do have aren't great. B-