Flyers Plus/Minus: Nine

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Photo by Heather Barry

If you haven’t heard by now let me tell you, the Metropolitan Division is a beast. Five of the top seven teams in the league are Metro teams. And the Flyers are the hottest team in the league after pushing through a game against the Detroit Red Wings to win in overtime. I say pushing through because toward the pinnacle of this hot streak, the Flyers suffered from both fatigue and injuries. The last few games haven’t been easy, but they pulled it off.

It’s easy to notice the good things when you’re on a winning streak, well there’s some bad stuff too.

Plus:

Did I mention the nine games?: Nine games! We were so close to accepting a terrible, terrible season with Andrew MacDonald strapped to Shayne Gostisbehere and two very good goalies who were drained of their powers much like in the movie Space Jam. With no competition, Steve Mason has found himself and despite some injuries, the offense has been steadily producing.

Nothing lasts forever, but this streak has kept the Flyers in step with the rest of the strong Metropolitan Division.

Tony Two Wins: Anthony Stolarz has started two NHL games and won both. In his second game, he earned his first NHL shutout, stopping 28 shots to force an overtime in a 0-0 game.

Stolarz was solid, giving Mason a day to rest, which may be trouble for Michal Neuvirth going forward. We won’t know for sure, though, until Stolarz gets an extended look.

The Good Brayden Schenn: Brayden Schenn has been a bit frustrating this season. His 5v5 play has been pretty bad, dragging down every line he’s been put on. Schenn was juggled around the lineup while Dave Hakstol tried to optimize the top six, even playing some time with the 4th line. With a number of injuries, Schenn has been playing between Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny, but it’s his effectiveness on the power play  that’s saved the Flyers.

Schenn has scored the last four goals for the Flyers, winning them two games. Against Detroit, it was Schenn who potted the OT winner. Against Dallas, Schenn scored all three Flyers goals for a hattrick. He hasn’t been great this season, but if Schenn can play more like this (and like the late half of last season) the Flyers offense will be that much more dangerous.

Minus:

Breaking the upper body: The Flyers are already missing Sean Couturier and Matt Read, two play-driving forwards. Now the Flyers may be missing two defensive fixtures. Mark Streit is out for two weeks with an upper-body injury he suffered late in the game against Detroit. Shayne Gostisbehere is day-to-day with a hand injury.

Injuries are piling up which doesn’t usually work out well with continuing winning streaks. Hopefully, Ghost’s hand is all better for the next game.

Slow games: It was starting to get concerning late in this streak, that the Flyers didn’t really look effective. Obviously, they had problems scoring against Dallas, and if it weren’t for Brayden Schenn’s power-play hattrick, the streak would have ended then.  Against the Red Wings, the Flyers looked just as slow, but were bailed out by great performance from Stolarz.

Missing Read and Couturier may have been wearing on the team. Playing the 4th line of Bellemare and VandeVelde against top lines may also have been an issue, but they managed to survive whatever the problem was. Now we’ll see if a bit of rest will help them, or if their luck has run out.

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