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October 16, 2017

What they're saying about Flyers: Power rankings, new nicknames and approval ratings

Flyers NHL

The Flyers are off to a 3-2 start and have been turning some heads with their play, especially after an 8-2 win over Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in their home opener on Saturday night. 

Currently, they're tied for second in the NHL with 4.20 goals per game, and Jake Voracek is tied for fourth in the league with nine points and is second in assists (9) through five games. Shayne Gostisbehere is tied for third with eight assists. Wayne Simmonds is tied for third with five goals. Sean Couturier is tied for second with a plus-eight rating. 

After a solid start to the season, one in which Flyers have been exceeding the expectations of most analysts and fans alike, the team is starting to get some early recognition. 

Here's a look at what they're saying about the Orange and Black:

Flyers climbing in Power Rankings

Arguably the biggest surprise here was realizing that some sites had them ranked second-to-last coming into the season. 

CBSSports.com | Cody Benjamin

Previous ranking (change): 17 (+9)

8. So these guys aren't taking any prisoners ... when they're on their game. A combined 16 goals in their last three outings says it all.  [cbsports.com]

 USA TODAY | Kevin Allen

Previous ranking (change): 22 (+8)

14. Ranked second in goal scoring, and they are in the middle of the pack in preventing goals. Jakub Voracek has nine assists in the first five games.  [usatoday.com]

 ProHockeyTalk | Adam Gretz

Previous ranking (change): N/A

20. There is a lot of young talent on this team and they can be really good, really fast … if they get the goaltending.  [nhl.nbcsports.com]

A nickname that should stick

Dave Isaac | The Courier Post

The Flyers have a new-look top line that consists of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, all three of whom have something in common aside from being professional hockey players in Philadelphia. And it might make for the best Flyers nickname in quite some time. 

Is five games too soon for a line to have its own nickname? Because Sean Couturier has one already.

“Maybe the Ginger Line?”

The experiment believed to be short lived of having Couturier center the Flyers’ top line and Claude Giroux be on the left wing has only gotten better. Saturday night, Giroux, Couturier and Jake Voracek, the redheads up front, exploded for a combined 10 points. The Flyers skated circles around a tired Washington Capitals team and beat them 8-2.  [courierpostonline.com]

It doesn't quite instill the fear of, say, The Legion of Doom, but it's amazing nonetheless.

A different ‘Answer?’

Sam Carchidi | The Philadelphia Inquirer

I'm all on board for The Ginger Line. But this is taking it a step too far. 

Couturier has made the line much more defensively responsible. That was expected. What wasn’t expected was the line’s offensive production: a combined 22 points in the Flyers’ 3-2 start. And the three usually face an opponent’s top-checking unit.

After Monday’s practice in Voorhees, Voracek called Couturier “a very responsible guy on both sides of the puck, and it shows. He creates more space for me and ‘G’ on offense. It feels like he always has the answer for whatever we say. We call him ‘The Answer.’”  [philly.com]

I'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure that nickname's already been retired in this city, alongside "Weapon X," "Concrete Charlie," and "The Hammer." 

Jury still out on Hakstol

Kurt R. | BroadStreetHockey.com

It probably won't come as a huge surprise, but Flyers fans are way more confident in GM Ron Hextall than they are in the team's head coach, Dave Hakstol, now in his third year on the job. Over at BroadStreetHockey.com, they asked fans to give an approval rating of sorts as a follow-up to a poll they did last month regarding the team's top-two decision makers.

But... 

As for Hakstol, many of the existing concerns fans may have had about him are still present now. Should Dale Weise really have a guaranteed top-9 spot to himself? Why is Andrew MacDonald on the top pair with Ivan Provorov? Has he handled the goalies well so far? And what’s the deal with Brandon Manning playing over Travis Sanheim?  [broadstreethockey.com]

As of Monday afternoon, 90 percent of the 1,000-plus who voted approve of the job Hextall is doing. The results for Hakstol were much less encouraging, with the most popular response being "unsure" (37 percent). To see how the other 63 percent of voters feel, you'll have to go check it out for yourself.

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