Stabilizing the Blue Line: Flyers’ D-Men Shining During Hot Streak


The Philadelphia Flyers, who have a history of luck not favoring them, did not get any favors from the St. Patrick’s Day leprechauns. Just as the orange and black were cruising, accumulating 29 points since the All-Star break (tied-second), a devastating outbreak occurred worldwide. As we all know, the COVID-19 virus led to the cancellation of all sports, pretty much worldwide. This unfortunate circumstance came following a game where the Flyers controlled the league-best Bruins in a 2-0 loss.

Instead of using this time to think negatively, we at Philly Sports Network always like to stay positive. This will serve as a good time for the Flyers to regroup as a team. Their schedule was about to pick up in terms of strength of their opponents, and some of their key players were suffering from new injuries. This “Corona break” will give the team a good time to relax, regroup, and recover heading into their push for the Metropolitan crown. And as for Philly Sports Network, it gives us time to reflect on each players’ impact during the historic run:

First Pair:

Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen

Provy: A

There is not much out there that can truly measure how well Ivan Provorov has played this season. Coming off a bit of a down season for the Russian machine, he has responded well en route to his 36 total points this season, on pace to pass his career-high (41). During the winning streak, Provorov accumulated six points (2g, 4a). His +12 rating along with his average TOI (24:12 minutes) led the Flyers’ d-men strong. Let’s not forget to mention Provy’s ability to play 5-on-5, on the powerplay, and on the penalty kill consistently.

Matt Niskanen: A

Nisky may have been an even more important factor in the win streak than Provorov. Probably being the most important offseason acquisition, Niskanen came in and lead the charge for a much needed defensive system change. He is a leader in the locker room, but also produces on the ice. He picked up a goal and three assists during the winning streak, but more importantly, was a whopping +16. Just by using the eye test, Nisky stands his ground, always makes the smart play and gives Provorov the comfort to join the rush more often.

Second Pair:

Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim

Before going into grades of these two, it’s remarkable to see the growth of these two players. After battling for consistent play, Myers has finally cracked a steady spot in the Flyers’ lineup. Coach Alain Vigneault’s trust in the two youngsters is remarkable. AV can be credited with much of the pairing’s development, especially over the winning streak.

Philippe Myers: B

Unfortunately, the last game of the winning streak may have been Myers’ last game of the regular season. Philippe blocked a crucial shot in the Flyers’ win over the Hurricanes and wound up breaking his right kneecap.

Myers was struggling to reach the stat sheet during the nine-game stretch, however, he still made his presence felt. He was +3 during the unbeaten stint. His long strides and fast speed allowed him to recover well when he was beaten and stay sound defensively. He may have been picking up more penalties than his coach likes, but he was standing up for his teammates. His growing confidence can be contributed to his stable play on the Flyers’ blue line, especially during the winning streak.

(Side note: he leads Flyers’ d-men with a +/- of +17, not too bad for the 23-year-old).

Travis Sanheim: B

Aside from being Travis Konecny’s #1 punching bag, Sanheim has served as a pretty good defenseman this season as well. During the winning streak, Sanheim picked up six assists en route to his six points, and +6 rating. He may pinch a little too much offensively, however, he like Myers is quick enough to recover:

On the season, Sanheim has been one great 5-on-5 player, with these numbers also reflecting his play during the winning streak. With a bit of cleaning up, Travis could be a key contributor to the Flyers’ deep playoff run.


Third pairing grades are continued on page 2 below.

Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre