Let's take a Look at the Numbers
This time last week the Philadelphia Flyers were flying high. They had just beaten the Dallas Stars in a shoot out and had clinched a spot in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. This week the Flyers are feeling the sting of squandered opportunity, as the top spot in East seems to slowly slip from their grasp.
In the week of March 20th, the Flyers played the three teams that are chasing them for top-spot in the East, in consecutive order. The Flyers only had parts of their team show up on each night and never displayed a complete performance of their abilities.
Against Washington, the goaltending wasn’t there. Against Pittsburgh, the offense wasn’t there. And against Boston the special teams weren’t there. But, to be fair, the special teams never really showed up at all this week.
Looking at it strictly on numbers, the Flyers really didn’t perform terribly. They went 1-1-2 and had picked up at least one point in 9 consecutive games coming off of a 7-0 blow out. But when you take a closer look at how they lost the games, and more importantly, who they lost the games to, the picture becomes more negative.
At the end of the day, the Flyers let three games get away from them. In each game they had a one-goal lead and were unable to hold it. The Flyers were only capable of scoring one goal against both Pittsburgh and Boston, and then allowed them both to stay in and ultimately win the games because of power play goals.
In Washington’s case, Bob allows 3 goals on 9 shots, the Flyers go on a rampage and score 4 unanswered goals and then two minutes and twenty-six seconds later, after not allowing a goal in 35 minutes, the Capitals score and send the game to overtime.
Meltdowns like these have caused the Flyer faithful to pull their hair right out of their heads.
Even though this was a frustrating week, I’m glad that the Flyers are facing turbulance at the end of the season rather than the first round of the playoffs. Even though it doesn’t feel like it at times, their game has gradually improved over the past few weeks. Hopefully the playoffs will be the spark needed to tie all the phases of their game together.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Penalty Kill: 7-11 (.636%)
Power Play: 1-8 (12.5%)
Obviously, JVR had a monster week. He registered his first career NHL hat-trick against the Islanders on Saturday and then created the opportunity for Richards to send the puck to Versteeg on the Flyers only goal on Sunday.
JVR was on the ice for 5 of the Flyers 10 goals this week. The strides JVR has made in his growth as a player are starting to show and he is starting to turn into a legitimate power forward in this league. His drives to the net are becoming more and more frequent and his physical play is starting to stand out.
Last week, Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell both scored their 20th goals of the season. This week, Kris Versteeg joined the 20-goal club, which now totals 6, the most of any team in the NHL. JVR’s three goals brought him within one goal of 20 and Ville Leino is currently at 17.
Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux are still operating as the Flyers most successful pairing. Carter and Giroux were on the ice together for +5 goals. Their combined stat line this week was 2 goals and 3 assists. Andreas Nodl was the pairings’ third piece on three of their five goals and JVR was the winger on the other two.
Richards and Versteeg are also emerging as a dynamic duo. Richards and Versteeg were both on the ice for four of the Flyers’ ten goals. In addition, Richards and Versteeg were on the ice for one goal in every game this past week. Their combined stat line was 3 goals and 2 assists. JVR was the winger for three of the four goals and Nodl was the winger on one.
The Leino, Briere, and Hartnell line were responsible for one of the Flyers goals this week.
As we can see, the Flyers are slowly starting to come back together. Carter and Giroux have turned into a highly potent line and the Versteeg trade is starting to pay off. The Flyers will play four games this up-coming week, three of which will be games where they will be looking for revenge.
Consistency will be the crucial element for the Flyers in this upcoming week.
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