After a more than disappointing start to the season, the Philadelphia Flyers finally seem to be turning things around. The Orange and Black have gone 6-2-1 in their last nine games to put themselves back into the playoff picture after the first quarter of the season.
The Flyers have found their scoring touch in their recent hot streak, as the team has scored four or more goals in five of the last eight games. Prior to this stretch of games, Philadelphia had been ranked last in the league in scoring.
The Flyers’ offense has seemed to start and end with captain Claude Giroux. Through the first 15 games of the season, Giroux had been held without a single goal, and the Flyers appeared lifeless on offense. In a game Nov. 9 against the Edmonton Oilers, Giroux beat goalie Devan Dubnyk for his first goal of the season en route to a 4-2 victory. It just so happens that this game marked the start of the Flyers’ hot streak.
Giroux is not the only Flyers player who has stepped up his offensive play lately. Playing alongside linemates Sean Couturier and recently acquired forward Steve Downie, Matt Read has made his presence known, racking up four goals and one assist in his past five games. The Flyers’ young talent has been prominent of late and has caught the attention of the fans.
“Young players like Matt Read have stepped up when the Flyers were down and are continuing to produce now,” Dragan Masic, a third-year Drexel nursing major, said. “With all of the young talent, the Flyers should be an even stronger team in the near future.”
Through their recent stretch of games, the team has had multiple key wins, but perhaps the most important one came Nov. 13 when they were able to claw their way to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Following their game against the Penguins, the Flyers dropped a tough one in Winnipeg as they fell in the shootout. But they were quick to rebound, as the Orange and Black went on to sweep their three-game homestand against the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders, all of which were won by a three-goal differential.
Although the Flyers offense has been on display in their hot streak, their goaltending has been consistently strong throughout the season. Steve Mason once again looks like the goalie who won the Calder Trophy in 2009 — if not better — and has been fantastic in the early going. Behind Mason, Ray Emery has also been strong between the pipes in a backup role and seems to be improving as the season progresses. With both the goaltending and offense clicking of late, it appears that the Flyers are poised for success going forward.
“The consistently great goaltending and recent offensive surge have brought the Flyers from the bottom of the Metropolitan back into the playoff race,” Ryan Rue, a third-year Drexel biology major, said.
The Flyers took the ice for their most recent battle on Nov. 25 against the Florida Panthers, looking for their fourth straight victory. Unfortunately, goalie Tim Thomas was in top form and led Florida to a 3-1 win. Thomas has been a consistent wall in net against the Flyers and holds the best goals-against average of any active goalie against Philadelphia.
Despite the loss, the Flyers still looked better than they did earlier in the season, as they consistently created offensive opportunities and threw 36 shots toward Thomas.
Mason was a rock in net as usual and has proven to be the Flyers’ most valuable player through the first quarter of the season. Since joining the Flyers at the trade deadline last season, Mason has yet to allow more than three goals in a game, a streak that continued against the Panthers.
The Flyers were back in action Nov. 27 when they traveled to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. It was the first time that Vincent Lecavalier faced his old team since joining the Flyers in the offseason. The game also marked the first time that the former Lightning captain had taken the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as a visitor. The Orange and Black fell to Tampa Bay 4-2, but Lecavalier scored his ninth goal of the season late in the third period.