Flyers Reach .500 (Finally)

Mason was his usual self, stopping 36 of 38 shots.

Mason was his usual self, stopping 36 of 38 shots.

Since the Flyers were shutout by the Devils on November 7th, they’ve been the hottest team in the NHL.  Ever since that Thursday in early November, the Flyers have gone 6-0-1 (and it probably should’ve been 7-0-0 if not for the Winnipeg gaffe).  This is a club that started 1-7, couldn’t score a goal, and were, frankly, an embarrassment.  But after Saturday nights 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders, the orange and black now sit at 10-10-2 or .500 by NHL standards (despite the 2 shootout losses).  They’re clicking on all cylinders and it’s been a joy to watch; a welcome change from the torture that was the early season.

Here’s a closer look at the win:

  • The 3rd line consisting of Downie, Couturier, and Read has been downright dominant.   Although Talbot was a valuable penalty killer and fan favorite, he just doesn’t have the offensive ability of Steve Downie.  Downie’s grinding, power forward style has opened up a ton of space for Matt Read, who’s been flying, and Couturier, who (despite sub-par offensive numbers) has been dominating puck possession along the boards.  If this trio can continue its dominance then the Flyers will boast one of the best top-9 forward groups in the entire league.
  • Every time I write about the Flyers I can’t help but bring up Steve Mason; the dude has just been lights out.  In fact, he and Emery have both been excellent.  Mason’s numbers (7-7-2, 2.11 GAA, .933sv%) would be even better if he had had some goal support through the Flyers first month of the season, and that is absolutely amazing. Against the Isles he managed 36 saves on 38 shots.  The Flyers have not seen netminding like this since Roman Cechmanek or maybe Brian Boucher’s magical rookie campaign.
  • I’ve mentioned him already but, Matt Read… wow.  The winger is on fire.  He’s worked his tail off all season, but not until recently has he gotten the equivalent results: 4 goals in the last two games.  Signing him to a 4-year deal before the start of the season is making GM Paul Holmgren look like a genius.
  • For the entire season, Adam Hall has been winning faceoffs at an awesome 64% clip, but lately he’s been incredible.  I don’t have the exact statistics but over the past 6-7 games he’s been well over 80%; probably closer to 90%.  He’s been almost unbeatable and it’s so very important to the Flyers penalty kill.  No one expects Hall to keep up that pace, but his addition is another that Holmgren deserves plenty of credit for.
  • Captain Claude Giroux is finally rounding back into his usual form.  Over the past 7 games he’s put up 8 points, giving him 15 in 22 on the season.  Those numbers still aren’t up to par, but we’re finally starting to see glimpses of the star who stood so tall in that fateful game six in Pittsburgh two seasons ago.
  • One major change from the Laviolette to Berube regimes has been the consistency in the defensive pairings.  And, in my opinion, that familiarity has done wonders for the team’s overall defense.

The Flyers look to continue their hot-streak Monday in Sunrise, Florida as they take on the 6-13-5 Florida Panthers.  The game starts at 7:30 on CSN, so tune in.

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