Philadelphia Flyers Still Have Questions At Season's Halfway Point

By Steven Smith
Flyers Team
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe that we’ve just about reached the halfway point of another NHL season. Some teams have played more than half others while others have played slightly less than half.  As far as the Philadelphia Flyers are concerned, they’ve played exactly 41 games to reach the halfway mark.  So far, there are some good things to report, but there are also some bad things.

The Flyers currently find themselves in the sixth seed for a playoff spot, just two points behind the Washington Capitals for the fifth seed.  They’re third in the Metropolitan Division, but don’t credit that spot to them completely.  Some terrible play from the teams taking a backseat to them has helped them out along the way.  Through the past two months, however, Philadelphia has been able to establish a great scoring system that has anchored them quite well.

In October, Philadelphia was ranked 29th in the league for total goals scored in the month (20).  Turn the page to November and they move up to 12th in goals for the month (36).  By December they were ranked fourth in the league for goals scored in the month (46).

A large part of the scoring success is because of Craig Berube‘s knowledge of line changing.  He’s been able to blend players’ chemistry with each other in ways none of them knew about.  Philadelphia may be holding a current record of 20-17-4, but don’t forget, Berube became the head coach after the third game.  Technically, Berube’s record as a head coach is 20-14-4.

Another plus that Philadelphia has been able to unveil is the young talent they have on their team.  Without veteran leadership, patience and experimenting with line changes, guys like Michael Raffl and Erik Gustafsson may not be able to shine like they are.  Credit the coaching staff and veterans for the success of the Flyers’ upcoming players.

For the most part, the goaltending has been solid, no thanks to Ray Emery though.  Emery has been nothing short of atrocious this season.  The Flyers seem to like where Steve Mason has them headed and that’s easy to understand.  Mason is quick, clutch and poised between the pipes.  He’s got every ingredient a team wants to have in their goaltender.

Sadly, Mason’s numbers have had to suffer due to the one aspect of this team that still needs a lot of work — the defense.  Philadelphia’s ability to defend from both offensive and defensive players is suffering.  Turnovers must come to an end and they have to stop getting beat by the speed of the opposition.  Things will become easier for Mason once the defense steps it up, and ultimately things will become easier for the entire team.

It’s safe to say that Philadelphia is comfortable with where they are.  The Eastern Conference as a whole is very much up for grabs.  Considering that circumstance, Philadelphia has to ask themselves if they are comfortably content or comfortably numb.  Do they keep playing the style of hockey they currently are, a style that seems to be working, but is only just getting them by?  Or, do they switch things up in an effort to try and get better but at the same time risk hurting the great chemistry of the offense?

Only time will give answer to those questions.  One thing is for sure; it should be a very interesting and entertaining second half for the orange and black.

Steven Smith is a Philadelphia Flyers writer for  Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook.

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