Flyers Focus: Three is The Magic Number


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Lace Up

It was a week of serious accomplishments for the suddenly upstart Flyers.

Three consecutive wins over teams that are firmly cemented in the playoff picture, the team’s first win at Madison Square Garden in its last 11 tries and new-found offensive production from the team’s defensive players all came this week.

The three-game winning streak is the first the Flyers have had this season and the first by the club since January of 2015. It’s great to see spark from Dave Hakstol’s team. Partially responsible for the increase in productivity could be the influx of young talent mixed with the feistiness of guys who finally got their call back to the NHL.

Shayne Gostisbehere, Taylor Leier, Nick Cousins and veteran Colin McDonald have each been inserted into the lineup over the past few weeks and their impact has been noticeable. Gostisbehere’s early exploits have been well documented. Leier has been in and out of the lineup and has flashed when given a chance. Cousins brings with him high-end offensive ability that was prominently shown off over the years in both juniors and in the AHL.

Perhaps the player generating the most energy for the team is the spark-plug McDonald, who got onto the score-sheet Saturday, tallying his first goal of the season against the Nashville Predators.

The peripheral production is being complemented by the team’s second line of Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and Matt Read. Hakstol is finally getting some offense from somebody other than his top line (even the top line hasn’t been spectacular) and it’s translated directly into wins. Simmonds is on fire –he’s scored 3 goals and has 2 assists in the team’s last 2 games — and is demanding attention from opposing defenses. The best thing about this line’s emergence is that they’re generating scoring chances in a multitude of ways.

They’ve scored off the rush.

They’ve scored off the cycle.

They’ve scored the dirty goals.

Couple that with the new connection between Claude Giroux and defensive scoring dynamo Gostisbehere and you’re going to start stringing some good stretches together.

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The Flyers remain the Eastern Conference’s lowest scoring team, with 49 goals in 25 games. That’s not good. But when you narrow the scope to the past week, the Flyers have scored at least three goals in each of their wins over Nashville, New York and Ottawa. In fact, when scoring three goals this season, the Flyers are an impressive 9-1-0. When scoring two or fewer, the record drops to 1-9-5. Three is clearly the magic number when it comes to Flyers wins.


It’s been a remarkable run for Gostisbehere since being called up prior to the November 14th game in Carolina. The Flyers hold a 5-2-2 record in games that he’s been in the lineup and he’s already lit the lamp four times while adding a pair of assists. Extrapolating those numbers over an entire 82-game season, it accounts for 55-points (rounded up). In goals alone, Ghost is on pace for 36, which is literally spectacular. The last time the Flyers had a 36-goal scorer was in 2011-12 when Scott Hartnell scored 37. Ghost is already third among NHL rookie defensemen in points with six in nine games.


During the three-game winning streak, Flyers goaltenders have only been asked to turn aside 26.66 shots per game. It certainly looks like a bigger emphasis has been made on playing better defensive hockey. The Flyers aren’t currently constructed to score four goals per game (they’ve only done it two times in 25 games this season), so defense is the key to earning victories. St

Mason and Michal Neuvirth certainly have made some spectacular saves this season, but by asking them to do less, Hackstol has found a recipe for success.

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The ‘Konecny’ Sam is referring to is Travis Konecny who we wrote about last week. His play has been excellent in the OHL this season. Just another glimpse into the Flyers’ deep base of prospects.

It’s important to point out Simmonds’ main responsibility in power-play situations. His presence in front has helped Gostisbehere’s shots to get past the goalie. Watch this video closely and you’ll see number 17 in front of the netminder a ton.

Weekly Awards

Mucker and Grinder Award – Colin McDonald

As noted above, McDonald has understood his role since his call-up. In the Flyers’ contest with the Preds, he scored a goal and tallied a fight. That kind of stuff provided instant energy for a team that sorely needed it.

Remarkable Rookie Award – Shayne Gostisbehere

I feel like I’m repeating myself here but this kid has been too good to ignore. Four goals (including two OT game-winners) in nine games is unheard of for a rookie making his debut, but Ghost has done it. He’s a reason to tune in every time the Flyers play.

The Animal Award – Wayne Simmonds

Choo, choo, “the Wayne train” is in service. Five points in his last two games are enough to turn some heads and I am certainly paying attention. His line needs him to produce. He’s the kind of player that possesses the puck and makes his linemates better–they certainly were better in the last two contests.

What’s On The Way

Okay, so they’ve beaten three straight playoff teams. Sadly, this sounds familiar.  The Flyers’ Achilles heel has been beating bad teams.

I’m not calling the New Jersey Devils a bad team. They sit one point ahead of the Flyers in the standings but haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2011-12 season.  he Flyers have struggled with the Devils, losing their only matchup this season 4-1 and posting a 1-3-0 record against them last year. If this past week is going to serve as a springboard, Hakstol has to find a way to beat New Jersey on Friday.

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Following the Devils, they’ll take on the last place Columbus Blue Jackets over the weekend. The Blue Jackets have given up the most goals in the Eastern Conference this season to go against the lowest scoring output in the conference that the Flyers have put forth. Something’s gotta give, right?

On Tuesday, the Flyers get another crack at the Islanders. Last Wednesday, a late goal by Frans Nielsen sealed the Flyers’ fate in a 3-1 defeat. They won’t have to wait long to get back at the Isles. A win here would make some hay in the Metropolitan Division standings.