Through this seasons first 40 regular season games, the Philadelphia Flyers have scored 105 goals, averaging 2.625/game. Their goals per game average is 18th in the NHL. However, if you look at their last 25 games, that number goes way up. They have scored 83 goals in their last 25 games for an average of 3.32/game. The key to this uptick in scoring is not any one player or position. The team has had contributions from each of the top three lines and is beginning to get consistent involvement from the defense. The scoring is not only balanced, but different lines have stepped up at different times.
(*Note: Dates/Games are given as points of reference. Hockey is difficult to neatly break down into statistics. The specific games, and the dates associated with them, are only there to give you a framework in which to think of each line/group.)
Read – Couturier – Downie 11/15-12/4
For about a 10 game stretch from November 15th against Winnipeg untilo December 4th against the Red Wings, this trio was nearly unstoppable. They were good before this stretch, and while together, they played well since that stretch. However, from the end of November until the beginning of December, this line stepped up offensively. In the 10 game stretch Read had 8 points (5G, 3A), Couturier had 10 points (4G, 6A), and Downie had 7 points (1G, 6A). As a line, they average a goal a game and were a combined +25. For a line that’s main responsibilities are defensive, their contributions on the offensive side of the puck were a huge lift.
Raffl – Giroux – Voracek 12/12-12/30
After the Flyers December 11th loss to the Blackhawks, Craig Berube demoted Scott Hartnell from the top line. Hartnell took one of the dumbest penalties of the season during the Chicago game and his demotion was completely warranted. Berube replaced Hartnell with 25 year old Austrian winger Michael Raffl. Even before this time, Giroux and Voracek were beginning to increase their production. However, in the first eight games the line spent together Raffl had 7 points (1G, 6A), Giroux had 16 points (6G, 10A), and Voracek had 13 points (4G, 9A). This trio has been dynamite together. Their combined 11 goals in 8 games (1.375/game) provided a large portion of the Flyers offensive attack during their first eight games together. This line is still together and Tuesday’s nights game in Calgary was the first game in which no member of the line earned a point.
Hartnell – B. Schenn – Simmonds 12/30-now
Over the past few games this line has stepped up their game. Simmonds has been on fire lately, although many of his recent points have come on the power play. Over the last five games Hartnell has 6 points (2G, 4A) and Simmonds has 9 points (6G, 3A). Over the last two games, Schenn has 4 points (2G, 2A), including a three point night against Calgary. The “second-line”, usually centered by either B Schenn or Vincent Lecavalier, has been relatively inconsistent this season. However, as the Giroux line seems to be cooling (although it still may be too early to say that) this line is picking up the slack.
Over the first 15 games, the Flyers defensemen earned a total of 16 points (4G, 12A). Over the past 25 games, the defense has a total of 46 points (12G, 34A). The defense as a unit barely averaged a point per game through the first 15 games (1.07/game) and have average nearly two points per game in the last 25 (1.84/game). Even when they are not scoring, the defense has been pushing the play up the ice and getting involved in the offensive zone. Mark Streit has finally become the defenseman we were hoping he would be and he has four goals in his last eight games. To go along with his goals, he has also added many assists and hit the post quite a bit. Kimmo Timonen is beginning to assert himself in the offensive zone once again and even Braydon Coburn has shown flashes of offensive ability here and there. The Flyers quickest, most skilled defenseman, Erik Gustafsson is out with an injury, but he has also helped the defense get more involved in the scoring.
Whether it is Sean Couturier and his “shut-down” line, Claude Giroux and the top line, Scott Hartnell and the bruisers, or the defense corp, the Philadelphia Flyers are getting production from everyone in the line-up. Since starting the season 1-7, the Flyers have gone 19-9-4. Much of that success can be attributed to a balanced scoring attack.