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Flyers Monthly Review: January
By Victor Cabrera
Philadelphia has been battling to stay alive in the ever so tough Metropolitan Division this season, and this past month of January was a struggle for them. The Flyers would play 13 games (with the All-Star Break) and had a mark of 5-6-2 for a total of 12 points. They’re currently in a wild card position but there is still lots of games that have to be played against other teams looking to clinch the wild card. They have to elevate their game if they want to be in the playoffs. Now to review Philadelphia and their play during January.
The New Year rang in with a road game against the Anaheim Ducks. A very scary start to the game in which Wayne Simmonds engaged in a fight with Kevin Bieksa and it appeared that Simmonds’ jersey was not attached with the fight strap which would have resulted in an automatic game misconduct. The replay, however, did show the strap was attached and it would be a simple five-minute minor for him. Ryan Kesler of the Ducks would score first but, the home team’s lead was short-lived as Travis Konecny scored just 19 seconds later on the rush. Ryan Kesler restored the Duck’s lead later in the opening period for a 2-1 lead at the intermission. Shortly after the start of the second period Ryan Kesler would net his hat trick goal and the Flyers would trail 3-1. The Flyers would be quick to answer with Sean Couturier scoring 37 seconds later. Brayden Schenn would get the honors of tying the game minutes later on a Flyer’s power play. Regulation would end 3-3 and overtime was required but neither team scored the game-winner, forcing a shootout. The Ducks would shoot first and Rickard Rakell scored his attempt. Shayne Gostisbehere had his chance denied. In round two both shooters did not score. Now with the Duck’s able to win they missed. Jakub Voracek scored to prolong the shootout. In the fourth round, both shooters missed. In round five Anaheim forward Corey Perry, scored his shot and Sean Couturier missed his causing the Flyers to lose in the shootout with a final score of 4-3. The Flyers would head back home for a brief two game homestand with the New York Rangers being the first game. Neither team managed to score in the first period. Early in the start of the second period, the visitors would score the first goal and the only goal of the middle frame. The Rangers would add two goals in the third pulling away from the Flyers but, Jakub Voracek scored a powerplay goal attempting to rally Philadelphia to a comeback. However, New York scored minutes restoring their lead to three goals. Late in the third, the Flyers’ protagonist Jakub Voracek netted his second goal of the night. Philly pulled the goalie in hopes of tying the game but the Rangers scored ending the game 5-2. The struggling Tampa Bay Lightning were next at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers gave up the lone goal in the first period. With the second period commencing Travis Konecny scored tying the game with his goal. Sean Couturier added a goal of his own giving Philly the lead, and Michael Raffl made the lead two. Tampa answered back in the period and less than a minute later, Radko Gudas gave the Flyers back the two-goal lead. There were no goals in the final period giving Philadelphia a 4-2 comeback win at home. That also ended their five-game losing streak.
Following the big win at home, the Flyers had to visit the Columbus Blue Jackets for a Metropolitan Division match-up. The two teams would have a scoreless first period. While the Flyers struggled all through the third period, Brayden Schenn pounced on a rebound to score the game-tying goal with their goalie pulled. The Blue Jackets, however, got the game-winning overtime goal and Philadelphia came away with just one point. The Flyers would then go visit the Buffalo Sabers. Another scoreless opening period for Philadelphia and their opponents. The middle frame was all Buffalo as they scored the first goal on the power play and then scored two more in the period. Another struggling third period and another clutch goal for Brayden Schenn this one on the power play. The Flyers attempted to overcome the two-goal deficit testing their luck with the extra attacker but, allowed an empty net in the final seconds of the game for a 4-1 loss on the road. The Flyers would come back to town for one game against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks got on the board first and Travis Konecny tied the game with a power play tally leaving the game tied after the first period. Vancouver reclaimed their lead early in the second period. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored for Philadelphia tying the game and then just 19 seconds later Sean Couturier gave the Flyer’s their first lead of the game. The lead was short-lived as the Canucks tied the game 22 seconds later followed by gaining back the lead minutes later. Head coach Dave Hakstol decided to switch out Steve mason due to allowing all 4 goals on 24 shots and put Michal Neuvirth in net for the third period. At the start of the final period, the hero Brayden Schenn scored a power play goal tying the game at 4-4 and that score held through regulation. The overtime session didn’t decide a winner so a shootout was required. Neither team scored in the first round. Claude Giroux scored his shot in the second round while the Canucks’ attempt was denied. In the third round, both team’s shooters were denied giving the Flyers the win along with Neuvirth getting the relief win.
The Next two games were back to back road games with the first being at Boston vs the Bruins. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare opened the scoring with his early first period goal which was later answered by a Bruin’s short-handed goal. After an exchange of goals in the first for a 1-1 tie, the teams would head to intermission. The Bruins then capitalized on a power play in the second period for the lead and added to their lead with another goal. The Flyers got one back when again “Hero Schenn” scored a power play goal. The Bruins answered back with a power play goal of their own and then another goal. In the closing seconds of the second period, Wayne Simmonds scored on the power play making it 5-3 with one period to play. The Flyers again found themselves struggling to score and tie in the third resulting in pulling the goalie, giving up an empty net goal to lose the game 6-3. They had to bounce back quickly as the next game was the next night in the Nation’s capital against Washington. They were visiting the red-hot flames on an eight-game win streak. A scoreless first period for both Metropolitan Clubs. Philadelphia allowed a power play goal and the game’s first goal as well as the second period’s only goal. Everything went terribly for the Flyers in the third as allowed four goals in five minutes. Philadelphia lost back to back games and this one a crushing defeat by a 5-0 score.
The Flyers had six days off before their next back to back games with the first being at home versus the New Jersey Devils. New Jersey scored the opening goal, and Nick Cousins tied it up for the home side, resulting in a 1-1 tie between the Devils and Flyers. The Devils scored on a power play in the second and added to their lead with a late goal. Early in the third the Devils scored on another power play and won the game 4-1. Philadelphia would have to leave that loss behind as they were being hosted by the New York Islanders the next night. New York scored the only goal in the first period to take their minimal lead into the second period in which they scored again. Wayne Simmonds got on the board with his goal later in the second period. Early in the third the rookie Ivan Provorov scored the game-tying goal and was able to force overtime. The Captain Claude Giroux took matters into his own hands scoring the game-winning goal in the extra session for a 3-2 win their first win after losing three straight.
The Flyers had two more games back to back prior to the All-Star break with the first being on the road versus the New York Rangers. The game has the first two periods end scoreless. The Flyers scored the game’s first goal in the third period with a Wayne Simmonds’ power play goal. Jakub Voracek then scored making the lead two which the Rangers could not respond to and the Flyers got a 2-0 shootout win with Steve Mason in net. The team had to head back home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wayne Simmonds opened the scoring with a goal his third goal in his last three games. Wayne’s goal would be the only of the period. The Maple Leafs would tie it in the second with a lone goal. The deciding goal came in the third period when the rookie winger Roman Lyumbimov scored for the 2-1 victory. The Flyers had now won their last three games.
Philadelphia had the weekend off for the All-Star break with Wayne Simmonds representing the team in Los Angeles. Simmonds and the Metropolitan Division won the 3-on-3 tournament and he was named the MVP of the All-Star game scoring the game winner in the final and scoring once in the semi-final. Simmonds was then also named the NHL top player of the week for his All-Star performance and his three goals in three games earlier in the week.
The Flyers had their last game of January at Carolina versus the Hurricanes. A game for the Flyers to forget but a game to remember for “The Rookie Sensation” Sebastian Aho as he scored two goals in the first period. Jeff Skinner scored in the second period. Then Aho would complete his very first hat trick scoring on the power play in the second period. Justin Faulk scored a third period power play goal and “Hero Schenn” scored the Flyers’ only goal of the night on a power play late in the third for a 5-1 road loss.
The Flyers’ points leaders are as follows: The goal leader Wayne Simmonds 21 goals, The assist leader Jakub Voracek 31 points, the points leader Jakub Voracek with 45 points and Steve Mason with 16 wins, Michal Neuvirth 8 wins.
The Flyers had a fluctuating month with the best being their three-game win streak prior to the All-Star Break. The good has been “Hero Scheen”, Wayne Simmonds, and Travis Konecny scoring on the power play. Coach Hakstol has found a solid shootout order and the line of Giroux, Simmonds, and Gostisbehere for the overtime session has been great. The goalie lineup may be looked at in which Mason has been pulled as well as allowed lots of goals which could result in a trade with the deadline and the playoffs coming up. The Flyers should look to score first and not fall behind because they really struggle to catch up they allow more goals in when attempting to tie the game. They have to clean up their game, start some momentum to use for the big Stadium Series game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field for the Stadium Series February 25th. At this point in the season is when they need to get the wheels turning, pick up points to secure their spot on the wild card. It’s a tough task ahead but it is possible if they string together a win streak.
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February 8, 2017