With the Flyers making a final push for the playoffs, these next few weeks are crucial for points. The Flyers need as many points as possible to have a shot to make the playoffs.
On February 18, 2017, Claude Giroux stated, “Last year we were successful from February 25 -March 7, and that put us back into a playoff spot. Hopefully we can do the same here.”
The Eastern Conference is very tight for the 8th seed, with six teams currently jockeying for the last playoff spot. There are three players on the Flyers roster, that are keys for them making the playoffs.
1. Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux was born January 12, 1988. The Flyers selected Giroux 22nd overall in the 2006 NHL Draft.
At age 19, Giroux made his debut with the Flyers in February 2008. He was able to join the roster full-time midway through the 2008-09 season.
In his first full season, he amassed 27 points in 42 games played. He had a great season in 2009-10, garnering 16 goals, and 31 assists for a total of 47 points in 82 games played.
The Flyers qualified for the 2010 playoffs on Giroux’s game winner in a shootout against the New York Rangers. This was the season of history as the Flyers came back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins, and managed to win the next four games to reach the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers won that series in 5 games en route to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. They lost the Stanley Cup in six games, but Giroux finished the playoffs with 21 points.
The former Gatineau product, was the Flyers top point scorer in 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons garnering 53 goals, 116 assists for a total of 169 points. For his accomplishments, Giroux was named captain of the Flyers to start the 2012-13 season.
For his career, Giroux has amassed 166 goals, 351 assists, for a total of 517 points in 574 games played. He is the catalyst of the Flyers offense. As Giroux goes the Flyers go.
2. Sean Couturier
Sean Couturier was born on December 7, 1992. The Philadelphia Flyers drafted Couturier 8th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. Couturier signed a three year entry level contract with the Flyers on September 21, 2011.
The former Drummondville product, started the 2011-12 season with the Flyers. He scored his first NHL goal on October 18, 2011, against the Ottawa Senators in a 7-2 win.
During the Flyers opening round playoff series in 2011 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Couturier was tasked with shutting down Evgeni Malkin. He earned a lot of praise for shutting Malkin down. Malkin only registered one point against Couturier’s line.
The young phenom added a hat trick in the third game of the series becoming the second youngest player in NHL history to score a hat trick in a playoff game. He plays against top lines night in and night out. The Flyers rewarded Couturier with a 6 year-26 million dollar extension on July 28, 2015.
At age 24, Couturier plays in all types of situations. He is a reliable penalty killer, and he quarterbacks the 2nd power play unit. For his career, he has registered 56 goals, and 101 assists for 157 points in 350 games played.
“Coots” has been more of a defensive minded center in his young career, but he is gifted offensively. He registered 192 points in back to back seasons in junior hockey. He currently has 9 goals on the season with the Flyers.
If the Flyers look to make the playoffs, they are going to need Couturier’s skill in shutting down the top lines. Defense wins championships, as we learned last year when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Couturier has proven to be up to the task in previous years, and this year should be no different.
3. Steve Mason
Steve Mason was born on May 29, 1988 in Oakville, Canada. Mason was traded to the Flyers from the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 3, 2013 and he played in six games for them to close out the season. He went 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA, and a save percentage of .944.
Mason has been a solid goaltender for the Flyers since coming over from the Columbus Blue Jackets. For his career, he has posted a 193-173-62 record, 2.69 GAA, and .911 save percentage.
“Stone Cold” Mason is either hot or cold at times. He will make tough save after tough save, but sometimes he will let in a soft goal or two. A great Steve Mason during the ten game win streak this season saw him posting an 8-0 record, and allowing only 19 goals on 256 shots faced.
Goaltending is a major key to winning the Stanley Cup. Mason has proven to be the guy that can carry the Flyers into the playoffs, but they have to get there first. Through the end of February into the month of March, he has been stellar for the Flyers. They need him to stay healthy, and to remain just as dominant for the final push towards the playoffs.
If all three of these players produce to their capabilities, the Flyers could realistically make the playoffs. All they have to do is get in, and you never know what could happen. The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 as an 8th seed. The Flyers need to remain focused at the task at hand, to have a shot at making the playoffs.
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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports