Four for Four: Inaugural Edition

5 of 5

Philadelphia Flyers

See Ya in Sochi

For the second straight year, the NHL will have a work stoppage at a time when games are normally played. Fortunately, this season is due to the upcoming Winter Olympics rather than the lockout that cut out essentially half of last season. Participating countries announce their respective rosters at different points leading up to the upcoming February 9th break from NHL play. While there are still a handful of Flyers players that could end up being added to this list, here are the current members of the Orange and Black already named to their country’s team.

LW-Michael Raffl (Austria); 2 goals, 9 assists, +2

The 25-year old winger has gone from obscurity to one of the pleasant surprises on the Flyers as the team has bounced back from their miserable start. Since joining Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek on the Flyers top line, Raffl has blossomed into a valuable contributor. Prior to suffering a concussion in the team’s recent loss to the Avalanche, Raffl had tallied 7 of his 11 points in first-line action and has been key in bringing out the best in Giroux and Voracek, the Flyers’ two most talented offensive players. He is expected to return to action Tuesday against the Devils.

RW-Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic); 10 goals, 19 assists, +2

Raffl’s linemate will and the team’s second-leading scorer will be making the first of what should be several appearances representing the Czech Republic. The 24-year old, who was one of the few bright spots of the team’s dismal 2012-2013 season, started off the season in miserable fashion like several of his teammates. He has since rounded into the form that saw him lead the team in scoring and appears to be back on the track to stardom. Since that same December 12th benchmark, when Raffl joined the top line, Voracek has tallied six multi-point games and has teamed up with Giroux to form one of the more formidable scoring tandems in the league.

D-Mark Streit (Switzerland); 5 goals, 14 assists, -1

Since being widely considered the worst of the Flyers offseason acquisitions, Mark Streit seems to have found his way within Craig Berube’s new system and is starting to pay the dividends the team expected when they signed him to a 4-year/$21 million contract. The offensive-minded defenseman,36, has added a new element to the team’s hulking blue line. His blistering, pin-point slap shot paired with his awareness from an attacking standpoint has brought a threat not seen on the Flyers since Kimo Timonen was in his prime. After failing to score in his first 23 games as a Flyers, Streit has five goals in the 19 since and has been vital to bringing the team out of the cellar and into 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Fight of The Week: Jay Rosehill vs. Paul Bissonnette (Phoenix Coyotes)

With the Flyers trailing the Coyotes 3-1 and in desperate need of a spark, enforcer Jay Rosehill sought out Phoenix tough guy Paul Bissonnette in an attempt to contribute in the only way he could. After some early jockeying, the two finally tangled and the result was a formidable showdown with two of the leagues more skilled fighters.

The Flyers would come back from the deficit to win the game 5-3, capping a 4-1-0 Western Conference road trip. Rosehill might not show up much in the scoring column, but after starting flat against a formidable Coyotes team, the Flyers really seemed to benefit from the squabble.

Stat that Speaks

In 23 games started by Steve Mason since the end of October, the Flyers have failed to register a point only four times.

Considering the caliber of play by the rest of the team over the first part of the season, the Flyers might not have won a game until November were it not for the scintillating play of Mason. He has been the unquestioned MVP of the Flyers and has made the rantings of Ilya Bryzgalov seem like a distant memory. After seeing his once-promising career derailed in Columbus, the former Calder Cup winner has experienced a rebirth in Philadelphia of all places. A town notorious for chewing up and spitting out goaltenders, Mason has embraced the pressure and turned in some of the finest performances between the pipes in recent memory.

One could have made a legitimate argument for Mason to be under consideration for the Vezina trophy given his early play. While his game has tailed off slightly in the last month or so, he has not had to be the impenetrable force that he was in October and early November. At just 25 years old, Mason is once again showing the form that helped him turn in one of the most remarkable rookie seasons for a goaltender in NHL history. With the goalie position constantly a topic of conversation, Mason could be in store for a substantial payday should his excellent play continue. Whether it is during or after the season, Mason has helped stabilize what appeared to be a sinking ship and is as big, if not the biggest reason for the team’s rise to contention in the Eastern Conference.