The Flyers might actually be decent

The Flyers might actually be decent

Overcoming nine losses in 12 games to start the season, ridiculous injuries and the albatross that is Andrej Meszaros’ part time work on defense, the Flyers have shown something that seemed utterly unbelievable in October:

They might actually be a somewhat decent team.

Since flopping out of the gate and firing coach Peter Laviolette, the Flyers have slowly developed into a formidable foe in the Eastern Conference. And while being OK in the Metropolitan Division isn’t anything to be proud of, the Flyers’ recent 3-1-0 road trip against the Western Conference shows they have the ability to win in less than stellar circumstances.

Beginning the season with a 3-9-0 record, the Flyers were closer to a top-5 draft pick than a playoff spot. Since then, the team has gone 17-8-4 (7-2-1 in their last 10) and wiggled into playoff position, two points behind the Washington Capitals for second in the Metro.

And this isn’t a mirage, random spike in success or a feast on bad teams -- this is a two-month upswing against fairly decent competition. Over their last 29 games, the Flyers’ average competition managed a 19-17-4 record and 42 points, which would put them somewhere between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators, two fringe playoff teams.

The major reason for the Flyers’ winning resurgence has been individual players waking up from their statistical slumbers in the last 25 games. In particular, Flyers center and offensive catalyst Claude Giroux has almost single-handedly brought the club’s offense up the NHL rankings with an insane burst.

Pointless through the first five games of the season, Giroux was without a goal for the opening 15 games. But once he got his first on Nov. 9 against the Edmonton Oilers, the rest of the team followed, and the club began to compete.

In the 25 games after scoring his first, Giroux has been all-world, posting 29 points (10g, 19a). He’s had nine multi-point games and gone scoreless just seven times during that span. He is currently scoring at a near 100-point pace since busting his slump.

It’s that production, and some fortunate line chemistry, that has unlocked the Flyers’ attack and turned them from a lottery team to a playoff contender.

Wayne Simmonds, once believed to be trade bait, has caught fire, scoring 22 points in his last 25 games. With a jumping deflection goal against the Avalanche on Thursday, Simmonds took the Flyers’ goal-scoring lead with 13 -- a remarkable feat considering he had just one tally through his first 18 games.

Jake Voracek also joined the production game. Like Simmonds, Voracek has added 22 points in his last 25 games. He had just five through his opening 16.

Scoring just two points in his first 12 games of the year, even Scott Hartnell has gotten into the act. Hartnell has 18 points in his last 25 games, despite being shifted all over the lineup.

But a surge in offense means nothing if the Flyers can't defend. That's where Steve Mason comes in. A guy everyone expected to fall flat on his face, Mason has handed the Flyers a .930 save percentage or above in 10 of his last 19 games.

And in using that combination, the Flyers have pushed past the .500 record mark and transformed from a poor team to a surprisingly decent one.

Watch: Travis Konecny scores his 1st NHL goal, joyfully hugs Ivan Provorov

Watch: Travis Konecny scores his 1st NHL goal, joyfully hugs Ivan Provorov

The first of many for the kid.

Travis Konecny on Tuesday night scored goal No. 1 of what should be an exciting and promising career in orange and black.

Not only was it the 19-year-old's first NHL marker, but it ignited a third-period comeback from three goals down as the Flyers stunned the Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center with a 4-3 shootout win when they looked dead in the water at second intermission.

"Obviously, it makes it 3-1," Brayden Schenn said of Konecny's special moment. "It gets the crowd going a bit. It gets us going. Any time a guy scores a first goal, like I said, it gets a little more excitement through the building and through our team."

The goal wasn't of the flashy variety, but it epitomized the youngster's complete game. Teammates have routinely praised Konecny for his willingness to score ugly by finding the greasy areas — as we so love to call them — and doing work, despite his a not-so-intimidating frame.

So skillfully, Konecny deflected a power-play point drive by the other 19-year-old Ivan Provorov. Like a little kid — then again, he is a teenager — Konecny leapt into the boards in celebration, smiling ear to ear. In came Provorov for a big hug. Watching those two have fun is fun.

Flyers fans, frame this screenshot and hang it somewhere (and don't you dare cut out Matt Read). Meanwhile, for Konecny's goal and the celebration, watch the video above.

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)


A very tired Flyers squad came back with a vengeance against the well-rested Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night to win, 4-3, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.
Claude Giroux got the shootout winner.

It was an ugly affair for 40 minutes, starting with goalie Michal Neuvirth, who allowed three goals on 17 shots before being lifted in the second period for the second time in two weeks. The Flyers trailed 3-0 going into the third period.
Whatever energy the Flyers had coming back from Montreal on Monday was saved for the third period when they got three power-play goals from Travis Konecny, Brayden Schenn and Mark Streit to make it 3-3.
The Sabres had not played a game in five days while the Flyers are in the midst of six games in nine days and it showed.
The rookie Konecny scored his first NHL goal in the third period, tipping home Ivan Provorov’s point drive during a power play.
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas returned after serving a six-game suspension to begin the season.
New lines
In an effort to get Schenn going — scoreless in three games coming in — coach Dave Hakstol dropped him to the third line with Nick Cousins and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Matt Read, the club’s top goal scorer, moved into Schenn’s spot on the top line with Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.
Boyd Gordon played his 700th NHL game.
Notable goals
Konecny’s first NHL marker.
Goalie report
There was probably not much Neuvirth could do on the Sabres' first goal. Zemgus Girgensons shot from a hard angle in the corner to the net and the puck jumped, hitting Tyler Ennis for a 1-0 lead in the second period. That said, he wasn’t very good on the next two goals. Neuvirth has been pulled twice in just three starts.
Power play
The Flyers' power play awakened. Konecny's goal, plus Schenn's and Streit's. That marked a season high, too.
Penalty kill
Chris VandeVelde overskated the puck during a shorthanded two-on-one for what would have been a goal in the first period. Gordon lost a draw to Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Moulson jumped on it, went to the net with purpose for a quick backhander to make it 2-0 3:56 into the second period. Moulson had two power-play goals. The Flyers' PK units were poor.
Simmonds avoided a hearing and possible suspension for his cross check from behind to Montreal’s Andrei Markov on Monday night that jolted the Canadiens defenseman into the boards face-first. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviewed the hit and saw no cause for action.
Dale Weise (suspended), Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Del Zotto (knee), Michael Raffl (abdominal pull) and Nick Schultz (healthy). 
Up next
The Flyers will be off on Wednesday. They are in the midst of six games in nine days and will host Arizona on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.