Philadelphia Flyers

West-Coast Wake-up Call: Flyers Rolling After Road Trip

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The Flyers closed out 2019 on the west coast, playing five games in eight nights. They took on the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, and Arizona Coyotes before returning to the east coast. Upon their return, they made a stop in Carolina for one final road game.

During that road trip, the Flyers went 1-4-1, shooting themselves in the foot against lesser competition. The lone win came against the Anaheim Ducks, who currently reside in the seventh spot of the Pacific Division, 14 points out of the wildcard race.

Since the Flyers’ trip out west, they’ve been on an absolute tear. They’ve gone 16-5-1, and are tied for the most points by an NHL team in that span with 33. The penalty kill has been solid, and the powerplay has found its groove. They’re even playing better on the road. The Flyers are trending up, and the trip out west may well have been the catalyst.

Home Play

The Flyers have been phenomenal at home this season. Since returning from their six-game road trip, they’ve been even better. Posting a 10-3-0 record since 1/8, they’re among the league’s best when playing in front of a home crowd. They’ve scored 45 goals in those 13 games, and allowed only 29 for a home goal differential of +16.

The powerplay has been slightly below average, converting on seven of their 40 attempts (17.5%). The Flyers were starting to figure things out at the beginning of this stretch on the powerplay, so that attributes to the low number. In their last five games at home, the Flyers are three for 14 on the man advantage, giving them an efficiency rating closer to their season’s average (21.43%).

The penalty kill has stepped up in a big way. They’ve killed off 34 of 40 penalties for an 85% kill rate, slightly better than their number on the year. In their last five home games, the Flyers have killed off 13 of their 14 penalties (92.86%). The Flyers are starting to figure things out on special teams at just the right time.

Away Play

After a horrendous first half of the season when on the road, the Flyers have turned things around as of late. In nine away games since the road trip, the Flyers are 6-2-1 on the road in their last 22 games. In those games, they’ve buried 38 goals and allowed only 27, a goal differential of +11.

The powerplay has been lethal on the road since 1/8. They’ve gotten 28 man advantages and converted on 11 of them, putting their efficiency rating at 39.29%. In their last five road games, the Flyers have converted on seven of their 16 powerplays, good for 43.75%. Suffice to say, the Flyers powerplay is clicking at the right time.

The penalty kill has been solid as well, minus their performance against the Rangers Sunday afternoon. They’ve managed to kill off 23 of their 30 penalties, good for 76.67%. If you discount their Sunday afternoon performance against the Rags, they’ve killed off 20 of their 24 penalties, good for 83.33%. In their past five road games, the Flyers have killed 13 of 16 penalties, good for 81.25%, right on par with their season average of 81.22%.

Top Performers

The best part about these past 22 games is that the Flyers are getting contributions from everywhere throughout the lineup. The top guys are performing as they should. The bottom guys are chipping in on the offensive end. The defensemen have been rock solid. The Flyers are even getting stellar goaltending. Everything seems to be going right for the Flyers at the moment.

Forwards

Travis Konecny & Sean Couturier

Konecny and Couturier each have 23 points in the past 22 games. Konecny has 10 goals and 13 assists, while Couturier has nine goals and 14 assists. Both players are playing at an exceptionally high level. Couturier has a little extra motivation, seeing as he may wind up a Selke finalist come season’s end. Each player has two powerplay goals, with Konecny totaling five powerplay points to Couturier’s eight. Three of Konecny’s goals have been game winners. Over the past 22 games, Couturier has averaged 19:39 per night and is a +9.

Kevin Hayes

The seven million-dollar man, Kevin Hayes has been a welcome addition to a solid core in Philadelphia. Hayes has 10 goals and five assists in his last 22 games. Two of his goals have come on the powerplay, while three have come down a man. Hayes is the king of short-handed goals for the Flyers, leading not just the team, but the NHL (tied) with four.

Claude Giroux

The captain has kicked things up a notch here in the last 22 games. After a ho-hum first half of the season, Giroux has posted six goals and 12 assists in his last 22, with two powerplay goals, and eight points in total on the man advantage. Giroux boasts a 55.8% face-off percentage from the dot in those 22 games, and is averaging 18:16 per night over that span as well.

Defensemen

Matt Niskanen

Niskanen has been everything Chuck Fletcher had hoped he would be, and more. Over the past 22 games, he’s chipped in three goals while adding 13 assists for 16 points total. Of his goals, two have been on the man advantage, while the other was a short-handed tally. Five of his 16 points total have come on the powerplay. He’s logging big minutes, averaging 22:06 per night, and is a +9 since the early part of January.

Ivan Provorov & Robert Hagg

Provorov is Provorov, that much is easy to establish. He has two goals and seven assists in the 22 games following the west coast road trip, and is averaging 25:00 per night. Provy gonna Provy, right?

Robert Hagg has been a surprise to most Flyers fans. In the past 21 games for Hagg, he’s posted three goals and six assists, accounting for nine of his 13 total points on the season. To put this in perspective, Flyers offensive dynamo Shayne Gostisbehere has one powerplay goal in 41 games this season.

Goalies

Brian Elliott

Elliott has been the backup that most have envisioned he could be. While staying healthy has been key, his play has been on par with what many expected. During this 22 game stretch, Elliott has a 6-2-1 record with a .905 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average. He’s allowed 21 goals on 222 shots. With Carter Hart emerging as the odds-on starter, Elliott has performed up to the task as the backup.

Carter Hart

What more is there to say about Carter Hart, that hasn’t already been shouted from the Flyer fandom mountaintop? While his road struggles are well-documented, his play over these last 22 games has been wonderful. Hart boasts a 9-2-0 record with a .919 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average. His .919 save percentage is fifth-best in the NHL during that span, while his 2.27 goals against average is tied for seventh best among goalies during that span who have played 10 or more games.

There’s a reason why “Starter” Hart is a thing.

What’s Next?

The Flyers still have 17 games remaining on their schedule, and a majority are against Eastern Conference foe. Currently sitting in second place in a crowded Metropolitan Division, the Flyers will have to maintain this level of play to hold onto that spot. It won’t be easy, but they’ve proven over the last 22 games that they’re a resilient bunch. These next 17 will show fans exactly what this team is made of, and if they’re ready to make a push in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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