PHILADELPHIA, PA – It took a few games but the Philadelphia Flyers power play is back on track and so is their overall success on the ice.
After a miserable start to the season, things are looking up at the Wells Fargo Center these days. After going 3-5-1 the Flyers have rattled off five straight wins and are in first place in the Atlantic Division with 17 points, one point behind Washington and Los Angeles for the league lead in points.
Last season the Flyers power play was one of the best in the league. Before the win streak the power play unit was 25th and running at a lousy 9.1 percent success rate. Going into tonight’s game with the New York Islanders the power play unit is 11th in the league and is up to a 19 percent success rate. During the streak they have gone 9-for-28, a 32.1 percent success rate. Needless to say it doesn’t take a Mensa Genius to decipher the reason for the recent turnaround in the Flyers’ fortunes.
Another reason for the Flyers success is that they have also improved in the face-off department. They were near the bottom of the league before the streak but are now 20th in the league. Four players are winning over 50 percent: Andres Nodl, Ville Leino, Jeff Carter, and Claude Giroux. Mike Richards is doing well at 49.7 percent as is Blair Betts at 46.4. Danny Briere and Darroll Powe come in at 42.9.
Giroux is playing some of the best hockey of his young career. He is leading the team in goals (7) and points (14). The scary part is he is only fourth on the team in shots on goal with 27. Carter leads with a whopping 52 shots on goal.
Another key to the Flyers success is that the defensemen are starting to pitch in on offense. Before the streak no Flyers defensemen had a goal on the season. During the streak the Flyers have four goals, three from Chris Pronger, the other by Kimmo Timonen. Overall the Flyers have goals from 13 different players, but most of it has come from the right side of the ice.
James van Riemsdyk has not scored a goal through 13 games, so a demotion to the Adirondack Phantoms might be in the cards if things don’t start looking up for him soon. Scott Hartnell has picked up his play of late so things are looking up for him but they need him to stay on the ice more. He still leads the team in penalties and is fourth in the league in penalty minutes and second overall in minors.
Not to be outdone in all of the good vibes is the play by rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who is quickly turning himself into an early Calder Trophy candidate.
Bobrovsky is first in goals against average (2.23) and second in save percentage (.921) among rookies who have played in five or more games. After the beating team management had over not signing a big name free agent or trading for one in the off-season, so far the risk of signing Bobrovsky as a 22 year old free agent is so far paying off.
Adding depth on defense has also helped propel the Flyers to a tie for seventh overall in goals against. The offense has since climbed up the charts and is up to fifth overall as well. That is bad news for the rest of the league. Needless to say things are looking up for the Flyers these days. If the team can continue their recent success on the ice, the rest of the conference will be looking up at the Flyers in the standings.
Another trip to the Stanley Cup finals could be in cards for the orange and black, but the season is still young and a lot can happen between now and then.
In the mean time Philadelphia, enjoy the ride. Playing into June was great last year. Winning the cup this time around will be well worth the trip.