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Flyers Hope Recent Play Can Carry Them To Playoffs
By Victor Cabrera
The Flyers have been struggling to reach a wildcard spot and this past month was not the best for their playoff push. A record of 5-5-1 for 11 points this past February and currently four points out of the playoff picture but there’s other competing like Tampa Bay, Florida, and The New York Islanders. The rest of the Eastern conference is not far behind another performance similar to this one may push them further down. .500 in their 11 games is a statistic that needs to be analyzed and will be broken down game by game in the article.
A five game home-stand at the Wells Fargo Center kicked off the month of February for the Flyers. First off was the Montreal Canadians. The Habs scored the game’s first goal in the opening period the only goal of the period. The Flyers didn’t answer till late in the second period with a power play strike from Claude Giroux. The 1-1 tie would go into the third period with both teams needing the next goal to claim an advantage. Flyers’ forward Matt Read scored the game leading goal a long 26 game goal drought was snapped by Ilderton Ontario Native scoring his first goal since November 3rd versus the Islanders. Montreal struggled to score a tying goal and Sean Couturier scored an empty net goal giving the Flyers a 3-1 comeback win over the Habs. The Los Angeles Kings were the next visitor for the Flyers. A scoreless regulation game deadlocked at zero till the mandatory overtime settled the game. Former Flyer, Jeff Carter scored the game-winner in overtime. The Flyers would then host the St. Louis Blues. A scoreless first 30 plus minutes, until the Blues scored the first goal of the game. The Flyers had a one goal deficit to overcome in the third but St. Louis doubled their lead whilst shutting out Philadelphia for a 2-0 win. The Flyers had now failed to score in their last two games.
The Flyers had a fellow Metropolitan Division rival up next at the Wells Fargo Center, The New York Islanders. Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers would score, on the power play, after the last two games being shut out by their opponents. The excitement didn’t last as The Islanders converted on a power play of their own and the tie would go into the intermission. Early in the second, the Islanders would take the lead scoring the period’s only goal. Again with a one goal deficit to overcome the Flyers failed giving up an early third period goal and were unable to come back. The Sharks would visit Philadelphia next to close out the five game home-stand. A defensive game as neither the Sharks or Flyers scored a goal in the first two periods. The rookie defender Ivan Provorov gave the game its first goal. The Sharks responded later in the period scoring on the man advantage which would force overtime. Wayne Simmonds would capitalize on a turnover in the extra session to score the game-deciding goal for the 2-1 win over the Sharks. Their first win after losing three in a row.
Philadelphia had a three-game Western Canadian road trip next on their schedule. The first stop was Calgary to visit the Flames. The Flyers got an early start with a goal from Nick Cousins in the first minute of the game. The Flames responded a couple of minutes later to tie it for a 1-1 score after the opening period. Calgary then got the lone goal of the second period to give them a 2-1 lead with the final period to play. The Flyers struggled to score the game-tying goal in the third, risking it with the extra attacker the Flames scored the game sealer on the empty net for a 3-1 final score in favor of Calgary. The loss had to be forgotten quick as the next night the Flyers were set to take on the Oilers. A quick start for the home team scoring in the opening minutes of the game and scoring another goal late in the first while blanking the Flyers. Radko Gudas scored after the second period’s puck drop bringing the Flyers within one goal. The Oilers, however, had other plans unleashing a trio of goals for a 5-1 lead. Wayne Simmonds got one for the Flyers in the closing seconds of the second to make it 5-2 with one period to play. Philly needs to grind for a comeback and Brayden “Hero” Schenn lowered the Oilers lead to two with a power play goal in the third. The Oilers then scored another goal in the third, for half a dozen goals in a 6-3 win for Edmonton. Two losses in two nights for the Flyers. The last game in Canada for the road trip was the Vancouver Canucks. Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers started the game on the right foot scoring on a power play in the first period the only goal of the opening 20 minutes. Jakub Voracek increased the lead scoring early in the second. Brayden “Hero” Schenn did his same old same old scoring on the power play for the Flyers. Shayne “Ghost” Gostisbehere assisted on all three of the Flyers goals his first NHL game with three points. The Canucks weren’t out of the game just yet scoring shortly after the Flyers’ third goal and again in the late part of the middle frame. The Flyers maintained their 3-2 lead through the intermission and for the rest of the game for their first win on the road trip. Three very tough games that Philly played in western Canada for a mere two points.
The Flyers would return for one game at home followed by the biggest game of the season the Stadium Series game versus the State rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field. But first the league leading Washington Capitals at home. A staggering start for the home team giving up two goals in the first one of them on the power play for a 2-0 score after the opening period. Brayden “Hero” Schenn cut the Capitals lead in half scoring in the second period. Late in the middle frame, Washington scored regaining their two-goal lead. Philly down by two in the third just couldn’t get an answer but, the Capitals did score one more for good measure in a 4-1 loss for the Flyers. The next big game was the Stadium series match-up between the Penguins and Flyers outdoors in the famous Heinz Field home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. A tough fought first period but the Penguins would be the only ones to score. Pittsburgh then added to their lead converting on a power play in the second. Shortly after Jakub Voracek got the Flyers on the board with a goal of his own. Only down by one was Philly with a whole 20 minutes to play, but Pittsburgh pulled away scoring early in the third. Shayne “Ghost” Gostisbehere brought Philly back to within one scoring on the power play. The Pens went out and scored again increasing their lead to two goals and holding the 4-2 score for the win. Two losses to two of their divisional rivals.
The final game of the month was a home game versus the struggling Colorado Avalanche. The game started to the Flyers liking as Wayne Simmonds lead an odd man rush on the penalty kill and while centering a pass, a sliding Avalanche player deflected the puck into his own net for the Flyers to get on the board first. Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers’ hot power play struck again to increase their lead. Minutes later Jakub Voracek would do the same scoring with the man advantage for a 3-0 lead after the first period. Jordan Weal scored his first career NHL goal and point in the second period for a Flyers 4-0 lead. No more goals were scored after that Flyers’ fourth in the second period and Philly won a big game with their special teams. A nice end to the month of February.
Team leaders for the Flyers after February are as follows: Goal leader Wayne Simmonds with 27 goals, Assist leader Jakub Voracek with 34 assists, Point leader Jakub Voracek with 51 points. Goalie leaders in wins Steve Mason 17 wins (2 shutouts), Michal Neuvirth 10 wins (0 shutouts), and Anthony Stolarz 2 wins (1 shutout).
Other team news multi-year contract extensions for goalie Michal Neuvirth and left winger Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Neuvirth has played 24 games but started 21 games for a 10-9-1 record this season. Bellemare has played 62 games for Philly in which he’s recorded three goals and three assists for six points.
The Flyers need to work on lowering the work of their goaltender they’re allowing too many goals only three shutouts between their three goaltenders this season isn’t something to expect with Steve Mason in the net. They’ve had dry spells in which they cannot score a goal low goal scoring usually results in losses. Clean up in the defensive zone is a must to stay in games and give the team a chance to stay motivated to play 60 minutes of hockey. The Power play keeps clicking and that’s something that has to be consistent in the push for the playoffs. This team will fight to the end of the season. With the acquisition of Filppula more offense can be generated. Hopefully, this team can pull off what they did last season and clinch a wild card spot to battle for the cup.
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March 18th, 2017