Flyers Focus: Searching For Reasons To Be Thankful


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Lace Up

Let’s take a step back, folks.

It hasn’t been the smoothest of sailing thus far for the Flyers or first-year head coach Dave Hakstol.  Doubters are already saying that

Chip Kelly

Hakstol can’t coach at the professional level and are lobbying for an early exit out of town.

It’s November 25th, the Flyers are (somehow) just four points out of a playoff spot, thanks in large part to five points acquired from waiting until overtime to lose. They’ve scored the fewest goals and have the worst goal differential in the Eastern Conference.

Brayden Schenn‘s second period tally against Carolina ended a 167-minute, 57-second long scoring drought, but really, this whole season has been a scoring drought. In fact, heading into Monday night’s overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, they had been off to their slowest scoring start in franchise history.

The power play is in the bottom-third of the league (but better than the Penguins’ PP!) and the team’s starting goaltender currently sports his lowest save percentage (.902) since joining the Flyers in a deadline deal during the 2012-13 season.

But despite the fact that we’ve had reason to wonder whether this team has hit rock bottom, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things to be thankful for in the Flyers organization.

Give Thanks For:

Shakedown at the Top

In attempt to find some new chemistry, Hakstol shook up his top line. For the first time in recent memory, Jake Voracek did not flank Claude Giroux on the team’s first unit. Instead, it was Schenn and Michael Raffl. The line generated some chances on Monday and it’s expected that the first line will have a similar look on Wednesday night against the Islanders.

Schenn’s goal in the second broke a 0-0 tie. It was a power play tally that was a result of crafty passing from both Giroux and Voracek. Schenn also managed to draw a penalty shot during his foray on the first line, but was unsuccessful in beating Canes’ goalie Eddie Lack. These are all good things, and while I expect Voracek’s demotion to the Pierre-Edouard Bellemare line to be temporary, it may prove to be a good learning  experience for the veteran scorer to find his touch again. It’s interesting to see that a first-year head coach is willing to make a power move like this. If it works out, it will be huge for the psyche of Voracek who is facing lofty expectations after signing a fat contract extension in the offseason.


Last week, I touched on Shayne Gostisbehere‘s instant impact on the Flyers’ blueline and examined a skill-set that will make him an impact defenseman for a very long time. It didn’t take long for Ghost to give us another reason to believe.

Gostistbehere’s second pro goal was similar to his first. Both one-timers from the slot. But Monday’s clapper lifted the Flyers over the Canes in overtime. More importantly, it was Philadelphia’s first home win in the month of November. That’s right, the Flyers, Eagles and 76ers have a combined record of 1-10-2 at the sports complex during the month of November. It’s been a tough stretch, but the Flyers rookie helped put a stop to the city’s November ineptitude…and that’s something to be thankful for.

The ‘Other’ D Prospects

The better news? Ghost isn’t all the Flyers’ system has to offer on the defensive side. He leads a talented group of young defenseman into the NHL. Before his ouster, former GM Paul Holmgren made a conscious effort to rebuild a blue-line that was devoid of young talent. Sam Morin and Robert Hagg are likely next to the show, followed by junior standouts Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov.

In the junior ranks, Sanheim and Provorov have been simply dominant. Playing for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL, Sanheim currently ranks 1st among defenseman in points-per-game. Sanheim has scored six goals in 18 games and also has 16 assists despite battling an upper-body injury. Provorov, meanwhile, is registering nearly a point-per game for the Brandon Wheat Kings (five goals, 15 assists in 23 games).  Provorov was the Flyers’ top pick in last year’s draft and at 18 years old is one of the cornerstones in Ron Hextall’s plan.

Travis Konecny

Travis Konecny was the second of two first-round draft picks for Ron Hextall in this past year’s draft.  The Flyers obtained the rights to the talented forward as part of last season’s Braydon Coburn trade.  Konecny is a beast.  He’s been over a point-per-game guy in each of his three seasons in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s and is fresh off of a five-assist performance just days ago. Anticipation is building for Konecny’s rise to the NHL and skills like these make it hard for fans to wait that long.

What’s On The Way

This Flyers squad will look to build on the overtime win from Monday night when it takes the ice against the Islanders on Wednesday night. The Flyers played the Isles tight last season, earning four points out of a possible eight last season and posting a 1-1-2 record in four contests. Each of the overtime losses to the Islanders came in a shootout last season. Wednesday’s road contest will mark the first of five meetings this season between the two clubs.

Next: Ben Simmons 'The Next One That Got Away' For Sixers

It’ll be a busy week for the Orange and Black. As they’ll welcome back former head coach Peter Laviolette and his Nashville Predators to town for an afternoon tilt on Black Friday. Be sure to go out early Friday morning to pick up some jam–this guy’s is going to have his

A mini road swing follows after that — the Flyers will play the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils — all of which are currently playoff teams.