When the Flyers lost Sean Couturier for 4-6 weeks due to injury, the club was faced with familiar adversity. The loss of Couturier potentially signaled that the inconsistent Flyers were destined to be a lot more inconsistent, as Coots was the club’s best two-way forward. Shortly thereafter, the Flyers also lost one of their best puck possession forwards in Matt Read for an extended period of time. The Flyers proceeded to shake it all off though and starting winning hockey games. A lot of them. Nine straight of them in fact. Let’s take a look and see how they’ve managed to put together the organization’s longest winning streak since 1995.
When the Flyers weren’t playing well, the goaltending is often criticized blindly despite the fact that goaltending is dependent on a lot other issues. The foundation of this recent winning streak can date back to Anthony Stolarz NHL debut when the Flyers defeated the Calgary Flames. Steve Mason’s performance against the Boston Bruins the following game where he made 45 saves and turned aside all but one shootout attempt in a 3-2 Flyers victory laid the foundation for a string of good play.
However, I don’t think anyone expected this; Mason walked away with NHL first star of the week honors last week and Anthony Stolarz turned in his first career shutout in the Flyers last game at Joe Louis Arena Sunday night. There a lot of good things going with the Flyers recent win streak, but goaltending is the most pivotal.
The Stars are playing like Stars
Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Claude Giroux have performed admirably over the course of this winning streak. Jake Voracek has recently turned in back to back 4 point games and has earned this week’s NHL first star of the week honors, while Wayne Simmonds ranks among the league’s best in powerplay production. The captain is not that far behind Wayne Simmonds in powerplay production, but I’ve personally come away more impressed with his leadership abilities of late. You’ll occasionally see Giroux put his arm around a teammate during the broadcast to console or give him direction. Like last season, Giroux has again committed himself to being a better two-way player so although he isn’t always contributing on the stat sheet, he remains a powerplay dynamo and nearly a point-per-game player in the NHL this season.
Ivan Provorov carrying the Flyers blueline
When the Flyers selected Ivan Provorov with the 7th overall pick in the 2015 entry draft, the Russian born defensemen was expected to be fast tracked to the NHL as the then 18 year-old boasted all-around upside and a considerable amount of poise for player his age. He got to the Flyers within a years’ time and although we’ve seen some momentarily lapses, Provorov has been mostly strong on the team’s blueline and lately has played like a number 1 defensemen. It hasn’t been about gaudy point totals for Provorov but rather good coverage and heady plays to retrieve the puck and get it up the ice for a clean exit from the defensive zone.
It’s not always pretty, but this young defensemen’s ability to separate other players from the puck consistently is among one of his better traits. Truly mature beyond his years as he plays like a player 10 years his senior. The Flyers couldn’t go on this run without Provorov elevating his game and already fulfilling the lofty expectations that have been set for him. At just 19 years-old, he’s already the Flyers best all-around defensemen.