How about those red-hot Philadelphia Flyers??? Let’s Go Flyers duh-duh-duh-da-da- duh, Let’s Go Flyers duh-duh-duh-da-da-duh. The orange and black are back on the prowl, and this current three game winning streak has Flyers fans feeling good for once this season.
It’s no secret the Flyers started off the season poorly. They had inconsistent Goaltending, Defensive liabilities, faced with early adversity with a slew of injuries, and lastly some key players were underperforming. However, the orange and black are 5-0-1 in their last six games, and 6-3-1 in their last ten games. The Goaltending has been rock solid, as well as, the Defense in front of the Goaltenders for the most part. One Defenseman that is fueling the Flyers run is Christian Folin.
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Folin is a 6’3,” 204 pound, 27 year-old Defenseman that had a solid 2017-18 season for the Los Angeles Kings. He completed the season by posting 3 goals, and 10 assists in 65 games played. Moreover, Folin isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates, and seal players off to the corners. These key elements have been missing from the Flyers Defense for the past few seasons.
Ron Hextall added Folin as a depth Defenseman, more importantly as a 7th Defenseman to start the season. However, with Andrew MacDonald getting hurt, and remaining a healthy scratch since October 13, 2018. Folin has just been too darn good to take out of the lineup. He provides a toughness and aggression that the Flyers Defense needs. For instance, he sealed off Patrick Kane, and drove him into the boards in the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks, as Kane tried entering the slot against for a good attempt on Brian Elliott. However, with Folin’s Defensive awareness the attempt was just that…an attempt.
“After that little, shaky start, it’s getting better,” Folin said following the game on Saturday, when referencing his comfort level as a Flyer. He added, “I feel more comfortable. It all counts on the situation; I get put in there a lot of different situations. It’s fun to be out there, it’s fun to play with Ghost, he’s such a good defensive man. Sometimes it’s easy just to get the puck to him and he’ll do the rest. But I think we’re working really well. Our whole D-corps as a unit, even our goalie today did a tremendous job; moving the puck and getting it up to our forwards.”
This steady Defenseman in Folin, has piled up quite the stats, and they are not always noticeable by the eye. Folin has 1 assist, has a plus 9 rating, 30 hits, and 28 blocks in 12 games played. Moreover, Folin rarely takes penalties. He’s averaging 17:16 in ice time this season, and has only 12 penalty minutes to his name. He’s not the flashy Defenseman, or the household name that Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov have become. However, Folin asides from his first game as a Flyer has been a welcome addition to the blueline, and has turned out being quite the signing by Hextall. His stick just seems to be in the right spot these past few games, especially on the Penalty Kill. Folin’s Gap control (Limiting Opponents Space) has also been spot on at 5-on-5 and 5-on-4. His skills were one missing element of the Flyers Penalty Kill.
“Yeah, it’s been working nicely for me.” Folin said. “It’s something I’ve been working on the last few years to improve that. To take away angles and to take away space, sometimes you get your stick on the puck and it’s a good feeling. But you have to keep working on it, it’s a long season, you want to have that momentum in the back of your head.” He adds, “We talked about it before, when it comes down to details, like clearing the puck 200 feet and being hard. Even the last two games we talked about being more aggressive, that might’ve been a key tonight because they have so many skilled players that if you put a lot of pressure on them with good sticks, they’re going to turn the puck over and we can clear it.”
Folin won’t kill you with his Offensive numbers, but he sure is one reason the Flyers have resurrected from the dead. He has become a welcome addition on the blueline, and he deserves some credit here. Folin may not be an everyday Defenseman in the future for the orange and black, but Hextall has apparently nailed this low-key signing. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports