Philadelphia Flyers appear to be moving in the same NHL direction
Peter Laviolette's orange contingent is slowly gelling
Defeating the New York Islanders 7-0 helps to momentarily distract longtime fans from the dramatically devastating Stanley Cup Final overtime loss their Philadelphia Flyers suffered in Game 6 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 1980. While ancient history matters on an emotional level, it isn't the point right now.
The best part about the first month of this locked out season is that Ilya Bryzgalov has looked good. He hasn't been perfect, but his on- and off-ice demeanor have been steady. With that and a controlled crease game, Peter Laviolette's team has overcome offensive and defensive issues.
It appears that Claude Giroux got mad at himself and the way that his teammates had been playing to-date. Despite a sputtering start, “G” still ranks second on the team in points.
During the last few games, he's begun to look like his old self. As long as he remains healthy, it's almost a lock that he generates more than a point-per-game a he did last season.
Matt Read has rolled his ever-steady efforts from last season into this one. This right winger is the real deal.
Jake Voracek was expected to pick up the slack, after Jaromir Jagr was allowed to leave via free agency. Considering the fact that he's currently leading the team with 15 points, I'd say that he's responded to the call.
Wayne Simmonds is a warrior. He creates space on the ice on almost every shift and is exactly the type of young forward the Flyers' hoped they were getting in the Mike Richards' deal.
Pound for pound, Danny Briere (179 pounds) is one of the best players in the National Hockey League. He appears to have recovered from his off-season wrist injury and is starting to stream again.
This team needs Scott Hartnell's presence in the lineup. If indications are right, he'll be wearing his orange jersey again soon.
The Flyers' defense is thin. Losing Matt Carle as a free agent wasn't the end of the world, but it did weaken the top 6. Andrej Meszaros current injury absence has put added pressure on Kimmo Timonen, which is dangerous.
The Flyers' elder blue line statesman is set to turn 38 in March. I'm not sure if he can play 21+ minutes per game during a compressed schedule, but we're going to find out.
Continuing with the history reference mentioned at the beginning of this feature: Bob Nystrom's backhand shot went past Pete Peeters to give the Islanders their first of four consecutive Cups in the spring of 1980. If the Flyers hope to have a chance to compete for their third silver chalice championship thirty-three years after that devastating event, than this entire team needs to be moving in the same direction from here on out.
Ilya Bryzgalov's .911 save percentage and 2.42 GAA has helped to keep the Philadelphia Flyers on the cusp of the early season playoff chase.
Claude Giroux averaged 1.21 points-per-game last season. He needs to push his current 0.76 points-per-game average toward that level again this year.
"Hartsy" could be up as soon as this week
Scott Hartnell's anticipated return will be welcomed by his old linemate Claude Giroux. “Hartsy” may, or may not play on the top line when he's back in the starting lineup. But, we can be sure that he'll arrive there at some point this season.