Over the last 25 days, the Philadelphia Flyers have beaten some of the best in the National Hockey League. While Claude Giroux has scored in bunches, his supporting cast has quietly followed his lead.
Coming off the Olympic Break, the orange and black had a daunting schedule in front of them. They played the San Jose Sharks in their first game back and then ran through a gauntlet of division opponents, each of them breathing down the Flyers’ necks in the Metropolitan Division. After the division stretch, they went up against four tough opponents from the Western Conference. Going into Wednesday night’s matchup, the Flyers are 8-3-1 since the Olympic Break.
The team has backchecked and played solid defense. They have forechecked and skated and look like a team no one wants to play. Head coach Craig Berube has taken a team that started 4-10-1 and turned them into a unit that beat the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. Dating back to their weekend series against the Penguins, the Flyers have shown they can play with any team in the NHL.
Over the course of those 12 games, Giroux has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. While Giroux had been the lighting rod for the Flyers resurgence, his leadership has trickled down to the fourth line. Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek, Giroux’s two linemates have been the main beneficiaries of Giroux’s offense. That is not a knock on either of them, because Hartnell, Giroux and Voracek have found chemistry since Berube reassembled the line.
The top line has scored crucial goals, but they have not been the only offensive spark. Over the weekend series against the Penguins, Matt Read scored three times, twice while shorthanded. Away from the stat sheet, the third line held Sidney Crosby pointless. Evgeni Malkin failed to score a point as well.
During the game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Vincent Lecavalier looked like the man reborn. He was using his body to shield the puck and set up several scoring chances. Over the last six games, he has tallied a goal and four points. Against the St. Louis Blues, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn performed a beautiful give-and-go that put the Flyers up 2-1.
When the schedule gets tough, teams need full efforts from each line and that is what the first second and third lines have done for the Flyers. Below are the statistics from the month of March for the Flyers’ three lines.
Negate Steve Downie from the mix and that is solid offensive production from the Flyers forward units. The Rangers have just as deep offensive depth as the Flyers and Wednesday night, the orange and black will need all three lines rolling to jump the blueshirts in the standings.