Month Record (6-6-1) Overall Record (22-13-5 5th in the Metro, 6th in Conference, 9th Overall)
The Flyers December had some nice highs and several gut wrenching lows. As the calendar flips on the decade, the future seems as uncertain as ever when it comes to the orange and black.
As the cloudy outlook on Nolan Patrick continues to loom the team was struck with more devastating news. Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Thankfully with an early diagnosis he should be able to overcome his illness first and foremost. There is precedence for someone overcoming this form of cancer and continuing an athletic career. Mark Herzlich was diagnosed in college and after a year off made his return to football field and would eventually have a 6 year NFL career.
Following that the Flyers reeled off three consecutive road losses, including an embarrassing 7-3 drubbing in which frustration boiled over and resulted in Joel Farabee getting suspended, which we discussed here already. They rebounded at home, but the entire month has consisted of a few steps forward and a few steps back.
Kevin Hayes ( 4 goals, 6 assists) and James Van Riemsdyk (7 goals, 4 assists) have been the hottest scorers for the Flyers. Both rebounded from slow starts in October and November and were able to put up December numbers which for the time being live up to their large contracts.
The trick with both will be sustainability. Hayes at 27 could finally be blossoming into a greater offensive role so he might be stepping into new territory. JVR is known for being streaky, but his place in the lineup now seems to depend on him keeping up and remaining a team leader. Both now share the team lead in goals (with Claude Giroux) so we’ll see if their current streak extends into the new year.
Some Rise, Some Fall
The big guys, like Claude Giroux (9 points) Sean Couturier (9 points) Jakub Voracek (11 points) and Travis Konecny (10 points) are all front running at the top of the charts this month. Ivan Provorov continues to be good with 6 points on the month and 23 in total. We’ve talked about Hayes and JVR resurrecting their slow starts, but after that it falls off.
Matt Niskanen is the lone guy in the middle and after that it’s a collection of rookies, the injured and the under performing. Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Sanheim both aren’t producing offensively the way they ideally should. Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick have both battled injuries, as has Scott Laughton. Joel Farabee is playing through his growing pains but certainly having them. Nicolas Aube Kubel is bring a lot of energy to the team but not a lot offensively as of yet. Mikhail Vorobyev brings, well a body. Any offensive numbers from Justin Braun and Robert Hagg is gravy.
If there is an interesting player in this group it is Phil Myers. He’s only gotten into 22 games this season but he’s produced 11 points (all at even strength) and his plus 18 is far and away the highest on the team. He’s productive, but his aggressive style has lead to mistakes and it seems that the risk in his game makes the coaching staff too nervous. Myers will have to find a way to produce and reduce the risk in his game to stay in the line up, but it has become clear that they need him.
What About The Goalies?
Carter Hart and Brian Elliot have been a good tandem for most of the year. Elliot lately seems to have struggles early in games, but for the most part has done well with a reduced workload. Carter Hart has had games where he plays extremely well, and also moments of frustration. He’s the clear #1 but both need the Flyers to be better defensively. The Flyers not having clear issues with goaltending has been the most refreshing change so far.
This Next Month
Things are split evenly between home and away with 6 and 6 in the month for the Flyers. Two games against the Penguins highlight the schedule, as does a Metro division away to home back to back against the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals. They also have another away to home back to back against St. Louis and Montreal the week after.
Every team they face is currently in a playoff spot, except for the LA Kings, but we saw the troubles with them. It’s the halfway point of the season almost, and the January matchups will provide a reading as to whether or not the Flyers are a legitimate playoff team.