The Philadelphia Flyers are a team that’s filled to the brim with young talent. When the team is completely healthy, eight of their skaters and their starting goaltender are all under the age of 25. All nine of these players have shown immense potential and will most likely pan out to be great players.
Now, with all of that being said, most of these young players have been struggling through the early stages of this season. Despite these early-season struggles, the Flyers continue to find ways to win (against every team except Boston). This is thanks to their veterans, who have been playing at an elite level all year.
Saving our ship
James van Riemsdyk has been playing some of the best hockey of his career this season. He is top ten in the league in scoring with 23 points and has been an absolute revelation for the Flyers powerplay, tied for second in the league with seven powerplay goals. JVR is a nightmare for opposing goalies when he finds his spot in front of the net. He’s been a net-front presence the Flyers haven’t had since Wayne Simmonds was in his prime.
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JVR hasn’t been the only veteran showing up this year. Sean Couturier has nine points in five games since he has been back from injury, two of those coming in the Flyers dominating win over the Sabres.
Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux are both nearly point-per-game players this season with 16 points in 17 games and 14 points in 15 games respectively. Giroux’s lack of goal scoring is most likely due to bad puck luck.
He’s taking quality shots but those shots are only going in 3.3% of the time. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing those shots get buried more often. Scott Laughton and Jakub Voracek both had a point in their first game back from the COVID list with Laughton notching a goal.
Neither player looked like they lost a step after their extended absence. Shayne Gostisbehere is looking more confident than he has in a long time with two goals in his last two games.
Brian Elliott has proven himself as one of the best back-up goalies in the league with a .931 save percentage. He has helped stabilize the team with Carter Hart struggling at times this year. Elliott even posted a 23 save shutout over the Sabres in his last start further proving himself invaluable to the team and to the development of Hart.
The veterans are the reason the depleted Flyers keep finding their way back in the win column. The team is starting to heat up after two wins in a row and most of their key players returning from the COVID list. The Flyers are primed to go on a tear with their savvy veterans leading the way.
The kids will be alright
The Philadelphia Flyers are winning in the most competitive division in hockey without their young stars producing. Travis Konecny was on fire in the first two games of the season but has cooled off considerably since then. The Flyers top-six will become even more deadly if he can come back from the COVID list with some consistency.
Nolan Patrick missed the entirety of the 2019-2020 season and has taken time to settle in. Shifting him over to the wing was a great move that will allow him to focus more on scoring and get back into the groove of things.
Travis Sanheim, Phillipe Myers, and Ivan Provorov have all shown flashes of excellence this season but they need to be more consistent. All three of these defensemen have the ability to shut teams down in their defensive zone and move the puck efficiently to spring forwards on the break or cycle the puck in the offensive zone.
Their struggles are coming from their increased roles this season and they will settle down. Joel Farabee has been the one exception. He is looking like a legitimate star and is in the middle of a breakout season. Carter Hart is a starting goalie at age 22, growing pains were bound to happen. He has way too much talent and too great of a work ethic to not get over these bumps in the road.
The Flyers could really use a top-4 defenseman at the trade deadline but this team will look completely different once the young core starts playing at the level Flyers fans have come to expect of them. This team has a chance to be special when everyone gets on the same page. Watch out for the Philadelphia Flyers.