Featured Team of the Week: Philadelphia Flyers
Before the NHL season was halted in March due to the Corona virus, one of the hottest and most intriguing teams in the NHL was the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers, who have made the playoffs only during the even years since 2012, were beginning to cement themselves as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference before the break. During their last 10 games they were 9-1-0 and currently sit just one point out of first place in the metropolitan division.
I look at the Flyers as a team without a true superstar, and more as a team with a deep, well constructed roster who are set to compete in a long grueling seven game series when it comes to it during the playoffs. In fact, I think they have one of the strongest collections of top six forwards in the league, a group who can score, create plays, and lay the body when needed. The first line consists of longtime captain Claude Giroux, who is still putting up 50-60+ point seasons in his age 32 campaign. The top line is centered by the team's second leading scorer in Sean Couturier who’s got 22 goals and leads the team in shots. He’s not always a guy who you would think of being a huge threat on a team's offense but the Flyers really rely on him to get a lot of their scoring done. The final piece of the top line is Jakub Voracek, who is the team's assist leader and primary playmaker on the line. (Picture Credit: NBC Sports)
When healthy the second line is centered by Kevin Hayes, who has Travis Konecny to his right, and UNH alum James Van Riemsdyk to his left. A lot of attention was brought to Hayes this offseason after he signed a seven year $50 million contract with the team, but he really has looked good despite the pressure of a big contract over his head. Konecny has also been a big positive for the team this year as he’s currently leading the team in goals and points, most of which have come on the power play where he has been an absolute force. The offense is also complemented by solid third and fourth line which are ranked 15th and 14th for their strength compared to all the other teams third and fourth lines according to dailyfaceoff.com. The team also has 2017 Nolan Patrick on the roster who was the second overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft. He has yet to play this year due to injury and migraine problems but I think that he still holds a lot of potential that the Flyers should be excited about. (Picture Credit: NBC Sports)
The team also has a very solid defensive core even without Oskar Lindblom, who is currently battling cancer. Prayers up to you Oskar! Currently the defensive core is led by verteran Matt Niskanen and up and coming store Ivan Provorov. They are a great duo to have on that top defensive line as Niskanen is much more defensively minded, whereas Provorov is able to increase the tempo of the offense and is always looking to make plays out of the defensive zone. The team also has college standout Shayne Gostisbehere manning the blue line along with Travis Sanheim.
One of the strengths of the team is undoubtedly their goal tendending as they have both an outstanding starter and a solid, experienced, and verteran backup. The start usually goes to Carter Hart, who has a 2.42 GAA and a .914 save %. The team also has Brian Elliot, who is now 35 but still is effective. Head coach Alain Vigneault is very lucky to have both guys as they complement each other nicely. (Picture Credit: TSN.com)
Overall I think Philly was a little bit of a surprise this year, as I was expecting them to be good, but not this good. They benefit from having solid pieces in place for all three aspects of their game and I think that depth is one thing that goes a very long way in the NHL. The team also has most of their key players locked up for at least the next two seasons so I think that they’ll be in good shape for the time being. As for the playoffs, I can see the team making a strong run at the cup, especially in a very unpredictable Eastern Conference. Time will only tell but keep your eyes out for the Flyers, whether you want to or not.
- Andrew Gardner UNH '23