The Philadelphia Flyers are 4-1 on their six-game road trip thanks to an offensive surge from a once unlikely source.
It was almost a month ago when I wrote an article about how the Flyers needed better skaters on their defensive unit. Part of the article stated that the Flyers had no offensive threat from their defensemen. Since the writing of that article, the defense has stepped into an offensive role.
Saturday night in Phoenix, Mark Streit, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen each registered an assist to help Flyers beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3.
It should come as no surprise that those three defensemen were the ones who picked up a point. They have contributed the most offensively.
Less than a minute after head coach Craig Berube called a timeout, Streit found Hartnell with at the right faceoff dot. Hartnell one-timed his shot past Mike Smith for the Flyers’ first goal. The assist was Streit’s third point in five games and 10th point in sixteen games.
Despite his defensive zone shortcomings, Streit’s offensive prowess is part of what general manager Paul Holmgren traded for back in the off season. Streit put together an impressive month of December. The 36-year-old registered four goals and five assists.
Timonen, who assisted on Wayne Simmonds’ game-tying goal, has turned around his season as well. After going through the first 15 games of the season with only one point, which did not come until Nov. 5, Timonen has scored 12 points in his last 27 games. His assist on Hartnell’s game-tying goal against the Edmonton Oilers earlier on this road trip showed that despite his age, 38, Timonen can still be relied upon to deliver when it counts.
Coburn, who ranks third on the defensive corps with nine points, has scored six of those points – 2 goals, 4 assists – in his last ten games. While Coburn does not possess the offensive ability of Streit or Timonen, he has stepped up and delivered some much needed production on the backend.
Erik Gustafsson, who will be out for another 7 to 10 days, will only help build on the momentum this team has built.
Despite this surge from the Flyers’ defensemen, no one should buy into this at all. While the offense helps, Streit and Timonen cannot shoulder this load over the remainder of the season. Speed is what wins, and that is not what the Flyers posses. This core is not enough to make the Flyers a legitimate contender for the Cup, but fans have seen a glimpse of what this team can do when defensemen jump into the play and can contribute offensively.