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Glen Stricker The Hockey Writers

Published on Saturday, December 10, 2016





Flyers: Hottest Team in the NHL

Aside from being on a season-high seven game winning streak, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves as the league’s hottest team during the holiday’s stretch of the NHL season. Maybe they just wanted to bring some cheer to the fans of Philadelphia during this festive time, or maybe they are ascending to becoming a possible real contender in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Regardless, they are gelling and stringing together wins in ways that can foreshadow future success.

Doing It with Offense

Ivan Provorov's offense game is beginning to unfold. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ivan Provorov’s offense game is beginning to unfold. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

During their current seven-game run the Flyers haven’t scored less than three goals in a single game. In that span, they are averaging a robust 3.8 goals per game and are getting offensive contributions throughout the whole lineup. Superstars Claude Giroux (10 points; five goals, five assists), Jake Voracek (11 points; three goals, eight assists), & Wayne Simmonds (seven points; five goals two assists) have been carrying the torch in the production department but they haven’t been alone. Shayne Gostisbehere, after starting the season out on a bit of an up and down scale, has started settling into a groove with four points over the last five games.

Also, Ivan Provorov is beginning to establish himself as a sure-fire NHL defenseman. After taking his rookie lumps in the early goings, Provorov is showing that the learning curve for the average NHL defenseman does not apply to him. He’s now starting to flash the offensive ability he had shown in juniors by chipping in four points in his last five games on top of being leaned on by head coach Dave Hakstol to take on the opposing teams best players.

Doing It with Goaltending

Perhaps the biggest reason to their current winning streak, aside from Thursday night’s 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers, has been the new-found consistency in net thanks to Steve Mason. Mason had  given up two or fewer goals in the previous five games before his five-spot against the Oilers. With the offense the Flyers can supply on a nightly basis, all they need from Mason is to continue to be as consistent as he’s shown over the last few weeks. If that’s the case, the Flyers will no doubt find themselves in the mix at the top of the division.

As a Result: Winning as a Team

The offense has been their all season waiting patiently for the team defense and goaltending to come around. Now that they have begun to round into form, the Flyers are showing during this hot streak that they can win games as a team. On night’s where the Flyers find themselves being heavily outshot and need Mason to stand on his head to keep them in a game, he’s done that. On night’s like Thursday against the Oilers where Mason isn’t at his best, the potent offense has the ability to bail him out.

The important part of this current run the Flyers are on is the fact that they are coming together as a team at a good part of the season. Of course, they want to be playing their best hockey come playoff time. However, gelling together and establishing a consistency in their overall game this early in the season bodes well for themselves down the road. Instead of having to fight and claw their way into the playoffs like seasons past, they can begin to assert themselves earlier in the schedule and have the confidence that they can, in fact, be one of the big players in the Eastern Conference.

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