Are the Flyers finally buying into Berube's system?
On paper, it looked like it would be a tough week for the Flyers. The Senators had won three in a row and the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins had a three-day break, but the orange and black took care of business and came away with two big wins in back-to-back nights.
Now, the Flyers (7-10-1) will try for their fourth consecutive victory when they conclude a three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets (9-9-2), who have also won three straight, on Thursday night.
Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at MTS Centre and the game will be televised on The Comcast Network. Here are five things you should know:
1. The new-look Flyers
If you feel like you’ve been watching a different Flyers team over the past week, it’s because you have.
After netting just 22 goals in their first 15 games, the Flyers have found the back of the net 11 times during their current three-game win streak. More importantly, they’re controlling the puck and playing sound defensively.
In their last two games, the Flyers have turned the puck over just five times while their opponents have had 30 combined giveaways. That’s a big step for a team that had its fair share of bad turnovers in the early going, but are the Flyers actually turning a corner?
“Yeah,” Ray Emery said after the Flyers’ win over Pittsburgh (see story). “I think the last couple weeks, the boys scored more goals, had a great night in Ottawa [Tuesday], and a tough back-to-back against one of our rivals and a really good team in Pittsburgh. Getting a good road win, they’re all steps in the right direction.”
For what it’s worth, the Flyers are now .500 under head coach Craig Berube. They’ve gone 7-7-1 since a 0-3-0 start cost Peter Laviolette his job.
After a rough start to the season, the Flyers have been getting some great performances from the Schenn brothers as of late.
Defenseman Luke Schenn, who was a healthy scratch for three games earlier this month, has looked a lot more comfortable in Berube’s system since returning to the lineup.
The older Schenn was a minus-7 through the first 15 games before he found himself watching from the sidelines. In his last three contests, the 24-year-old is plus-2 with three blocked shots and four hits.
Forward Brayden Schenn has been red-hot. The 22-year-old scored both goals in Wednesday’s win over the Pens and has collected three markers and two helpers in his last three games overall.
It’s an important year for the younger Schenn. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but has said his contract situation isn’t a concern and is focused on being more consistent. It’s shown on the ice, as he is second on the Flyers in goals with six, one behind Vinny Lecavalier, and leads the team in points with 12.
3. Power surge
The man advantage has been an area of weakness for the Flyers most of this season.
However, the Flyers have scored on three of their last five opportunities on the power play and have increased their effectiveness to 13 percent (9 for 69).
They’ll be facing a Jets' penalty-killing unit that ranks 14th in the NHL. Winnipeg has struggled while shorthanded over the past few games, allowing four goals in the last 10 times its been a man down.
4. Jet fueled
There always seems to be one or two players on each team that lights up the Flyers. For the Jets, it’s captain Andrew Ladd and forward Evander Kane.
In his last seven games against the Flyers, Ladd has recorded six goals and two assists. His 10 career goals vs. the orange and black are his second-most against any opponent.
As for Kane, the speedy 22-year-old has five tallies and seven helpers during a nine-game point streak against the Flyers. Kane had four points (two goals) in last season’s three-game season series.
5. This and that
• The Flyers won two out of three games against the Jets last season. In the most recent matchup between the two clubs, Winnipeg came away with a 4-1 win on April 6 at MTS Centre.
• Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn led the Flyers offensively against the Jets last season. Voracek had five assists while Schenn collected three goals and four points. Blake Wheeler had five helpers for the Jets in the three games.
• Michael Raffl has recovered from the flu and is available to play against the Jets. Winnipeg will be without forward Jim Slater (sports hernia) and defensemen Jacob Trouba (upper body), Paul Postma (blood clot) and Mark Stuart (hip).
• Winnipeg’s Bryan Little is off to a marvelous start. He already has more goals (11) in 20 games this season than he did all last season (seven).
• The Jets are 1 for 47 on the power play in their last 15 games and have not converted on 17 chances over their last six.