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Flyers Monthly Review: December
By Victor Cabrera
Philadelphia had a busy holiday season as they played 14 games through the month of December. The Flyers marked a 9-4-1 record throughout the month for 19 points. Halfway through the month they had achieved a 10 game winning streak with eight of their wins coming in December and two in the previous month of November. Currently, the Flyers are 5th in the Metropolitan with 45 points and 6th in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers are in a wild card spot and would make the playoffs if the season ended now. Consistency was highly met in this month by Philly till near the end of the month in which they didn’t look so hot. Now to review in more detail the month of December for the Flyers.
The first game was in the Canadian capital, Ottawa to face the Senators. Philadelphia would find themselves in a tough spot trailing 2-0 early in the second period but fought to even up the score 2-2 with goals from captain Giroux and Del Zotto. In the third period, neither team managed to score forcing overtime and giving each team a point. The extra session didn’t last as Voracek would receive a pass and skate through the slot forcing the Senators to pressure leaving Giroux open to receive a precision pass from Voracek to score the game-winning goal. The captain would help the Flyers achieve the comeback win 3-2.
Next Chicago would come into town for the first of the Flyer’s back to back games. The Blackhawks would score the lone goal through the opening period. The Flyers would mount another comeback this time fueled by the rookie defensemen Ivan Provorov who scored two goals 31 seconds apart. Brayden Schenn would add to the Flyers lead. An eventless final period would end the game 3-1 in favor of Philly. The Flyers would visit Nashville the very next night. Wayne Simmonds would score a power play goal in the first period the only goal of that period. In the second period, Flyers and Preds exchanged goals both teams scoring twice in the period. Simmonds scored his second of the night and Raffl had the other goal in the period giving them a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes of play. Philly would manage to hang onto their lead and would increase it when VandeVelde scored an empty net goal giving them a 4-2 win in music city.
The Flyers would come back to Wells Fargo Center for a three game home-stand. The Florida Panthers would come into town for the first game. Flyers would trail but Simmonds would tie it in the first period. Simmonds would score again the second period to give them the lead with one period to play. The Panthers would strike back in the third, to force overtime. Overtime seemed like it wasn’t going to be enough but in the closing seconds, Voracek would score the game winning goal. A final of 3-2 with Mason recording 42 saves on 44 shots faced. The Oilers would be the next to visit Philadelphia. Edmonton would lead 2-0 early in the second period but the Flyers would rally to lead 3-2 in the period but would allow a short-handed goal to leave the game 3-3 with the final period to play. The Oilers would yet again take a two goal lead, this time in the third period. The comeback seemed tough but the Flyers would do the unlikely with the major contribution of Voracek. He would score and then assist in the Flyers next two goals to make it 6-5 for a comeback win. Voracek had 1 goal and 3 assists that night while Giroux had 2 goals. Twice the Flyers came back from a two goal deficit.
The Dallas Stars would be up next at home. The Stars would score to lead, but Flyers center Brayden Schenn would score a power play goal to tie it. There would be no scoring in the second period. In the third, the Stars would take the lead again only to once again be answered by Schenn on the power play. However, Schenn would score shortly after on another power play giving him his hat trick, scoring all his goals with the man advantage. Voracek would score an empty net goal to seal the win over Dallas 4-2. While Schenn had a hat trick again Voracek was key tallying 4 points 1 goal and 3 assists. He assisted on all of Schenn’s goals and had a part in every goal scored that night by Philadelphia. That win couldn’t be celebrated long as Philly would have to visit the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. An event-less game as a 0-0 score carried its way into overtime where the only goal was scored by the Flyers. Brayden would score the game winner and the rookie Anthony Stolarz in his second NHL game recorded a 28 save shutout.
The Flyers would head west to face the Colorado Avalanche. A scoreless first with the Flyers trying to win their 10th straight game. Del Zotto would put the Flyers on top but the Avs would score twice putting them in the lead. Simmonds would tie the game later in the period. 2-2 with one more period to play. Early in the third period Lyubimov and Schenn would score pulling them closer to a win. Colorado would try to come back to tie it but only scored once in the later stages of the third period. The Flyers now had won 10 in a row, eight of them in December alone. An impressive and difficult accomplishment for Philadelphia. Next, they would visit the Stars a team they had beaten a week prior. The Flyers got things started by scoring first but after that crumbled as the Stars would shut them down after that goal and score 3 goals one in the second period and two in the third period. The Flyers were handed their first loss after winning 10 in a row with the 3-1 loss at Dallas.
Philly would come home to face the Predators another team they had beaten earlier in the month. Regulation would end with a 1-1 tie and overtime didn’t settle it for either team. Shootout it was. Flyers shot first and couldn’t score on both their attempts. Nashville scored on their second attempt and the Flyers missed their third unable to tie it giving the Predators two points. A divisional game at home was next as the Capitals come to visit. Flyers and Capitals would both be knotted up at two a piece through regulation and overtime didn’t settle it for them. In shoot out the first 3 rounds ended 1-1 forcing a sudden death round. Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds scored and Mason saved the Capitals attempt giving Philly two points. The Flyers would have another divisional game the next night in New Jersey. A terrible game for Philadelphia getting dominated and shut out for a 4-0 final score.
The Holiday break would allow the Flyers to regroup before heading West for the final two games of 2016. First, they would visit the St. Louis Blues. Simmonds gave them the lead but the Blues would leave the first period with a 2-1 lead. The Flyers would tie it 2-2 in the second. In the third, the Flyers would take a 3-2 lead but fell hard to a Blues third period 4 goal rally. The four goal rally concluded with Blues forward Robby Fabbri scoring his first career hat trick. The final game of 2016 was against the San Jose Sharks at SAP center. Despite Stolarz great performance the Sharks coasted to a 2-0 win. The Flyers didn’t end well despite their good month.
The point leader thus far is Jakub Voracek 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points. Voracek leads the teams in assists. Wayne Simmonds is the goal leader with 17 goals and has 14 assists for 31 points. Tied in points with Simmonds is Captain Claude Giroux with 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points. Fourth place would be Brayden Schenn who has 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points. Steve Mason is the goalie leader for this team 14-12-4 in his 28 starts with no shutouts. The rookie Stolarz is 2-0-0 with one shutout. Michal Neuvirth is 4-2-0 in his eight starts due to being pulled in games this season. Stolarz is the only goaltender for the Flyers with a shutout thus far.
The Flyers had a good month 9-4-1 but their losses were very bad as they didn’t play well offensively. Their goaltending is solid which is key for the back to back games and road trips. The Flyers should look to protect their leads better while still generating offense. The power play is clicking but the penalty kill has struggled. The overtime sessions have been good it seems like Giroux, Gostisbehere, and Voracek is a winning combo for the 3 on 3. Another good thing is they are finding scoring from other guys like Schenn and Provorov. They need to win games against their divisional rivals to ascend in the standings more. There’s a good balance and with minor fixes, they can stay consistent and play even better.
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January 7, 2017