The Philadelphia Flyers have finished the first month of the regular season, and it there is much to look forward to for the remainder of the season. Jakub Voracek is finally back to his elite form with an elite beard. Claude Giroux is on a career-high 10 game point streak, and Wayne Simmonds looks like he can lead the Flyers in points for a second year in a row.
Of the 21 Flyers skaters that have had ice time this season, 17 skaters have scored goals. Philadelphia may have found a team that can effectively contribute on every line for every minute. Some unlikely heroes include; Matt Read who is sitting on 5 goals, Brandon Manning who is tied for goals (2) and points (7) with Shayne Gostisbehere, and Brayden Schenn who is pacing a point per game since his return. Travis Konecny looks wise beyond his age and is proving that he is a top six forward putting up 1 goal and 7 points in his first 11 games as a pro. He may not be Dylan Larkin, but man is this kid fast.
Yes, it is entertaining and reassuring to know that the Flyers have rediscovered the scoring touch, but the cost has come at defensive zone coverage. Flyers fans are so upset that a go fund me page has been created to help the buy out the remainder to Andrew MacDonald’s ridiculous contract. Rookie Ivan Provorov has a minus nine rating, and his rookie mistakes are hard to ignore. Coach Hakstol made a wise decision on changing Provorov’s defensive pairing form Streit to Manning. Brandon Manning, in his sixth professional season, had to claw his way through the minors in order to make the roster; whereas Provorov made the Flyers roster this year with no professional experience. Manning is showing Provorov what it means to be a professional hockey player, in leading by example and inspiring Provorov to work harder and improve himself. Admittedly, Provorov was overhyped in the pre-season, but there is a huge potential that deserves the hype. The kid just needs to shake those first year jitters and stop second guessing himself.
Flyers fans need to relax about the current goaltending situation. Yes, both Mason (3.46 GAA, .878 SV%) and Michal Neuvirth (3.64 GAA, .865 SV%) have less than ideal stats so far this season, but the blame doesn’t fall on the player. The blame falls on the team. If the Flyers were going to deal Mason, it would have been when the LA Kings called Hextall to kick the tires on the former Calder Trophy winner. Philadelphia acknowledged after last season that improved goal scoring was needed. In exchange for the offensive boost, the Flyers’ blueline has been playing as loose as an Atlantic City slot machine after a holiday weekend. Patience is a virtue, and with time they will hopefully see both goaltenders’ performance improve as the team starts clicking and chemistry continues to build.
Overall, October was a less than ideal month for Philadelphia, however there were many shining moments to give fans hope for a deep playoff run for 2017. No one can dispute that the Flyers are an awful first period team, however first period teams don’t win Stanley Cups. A team that can rally from deficit every single night is the kind of team that wins championships, and the Flyers most certainly embody this gutsy style of play.
Author: Dick Smith