The Flyers Are Alive and Well in the NHL Playoff Race

The+Philadelphia+Flyers+have+pulled+themselves+out+of+the+Eastern+Conference+cellar+and+into+the+Eastern+Conference+playoff+hunt.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29
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The Flyers Are Alive and Well in the NHL Playoff Race

The Philadelphia Flyers have pulled themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar and into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Philadelphia Flyers have pulled themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar and into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Philadelphia Flyers have pulled themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar and into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Philadelphia Flyers have pulled themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar and into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. (Courtesy of Twitter)

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By Dominic Muscarella

The Philadelphia Flyers have pulled themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar and into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On December 2, the Philadelphia Flyers lost their 10th game in a row. That loss to the Boston Bruins sent a reeling Flyers squad to eight wins and a whopping eighteen losses on the season. Luckily for Philadelphia, they managed to gain enough overtime loss points to obtain a less ugly, but still subpar, 8-11-7 record, good for 23 points and fifth-worst record in the NHL. However, since then, the Flyers have come alive, posting a 14-5-1 record to pull themselves out of the basement of the Metropolitan division and into the thick of the playoff race.

While the Flyers’ team stats aren’t anything special as a result of their poor start to the season, the two large winning streaks have brought their numbers back to a respectable amount. Philly is 17th in the league in goals scored and 15th in goals allows, averaging out to…decidedly average. But great recent play, alongside the struggles of other Metropolitan teams, has brought the red-hot Flyers to potential playoff position.

The turnaround of the Flyers can be attributed to some of their familiar faces. Former Hart trophy finalist Claude Giroux has had a turnaround season. Coming off a year where he gained only 58 points over the entire season, he has 55 points so far this season in just 46 games. Jakob Voracek is on pace for his best season since his breakout 2014-15 season where he posted 81 points with 53 points in 46 games. Voracek only has eight goals on the season thus far, but his league-leading 45 assists have provided the Flyers plenty of offense on their second line alongside Michael Raffl and Valtteri Filppula. The Flyers 2017 draft pick Nolan Patrick has just nine points on the season, but has played better of late alongside Flyer mainstay Wayne Simmons.

The Philadelphia goalies have been average as well, coming in just a point below the league average in save percentage at .912. Brian Elliot, the Flyers number one goalie, has struggled thus far, posting an underwhelming .906 save percentage in his first season in Philadelphia after coming over from Calgary.

This marks the second straight year Elliot has seen his save percentage drop after leading the league in the stat with a .930 mark in his final year in a two-headed goalie system in St. Louis alongside Jake Allen. Elliot likely won’t return to that type of play as a result of the great increase in workload, but perhaps the Flyers should consider switching to a more balanced workload between their two goalies anyway, considering the play of backup Michal Neuvirth, who has put up a .928 save percentage in the thirteen games he has played in thus far this season.

Philadelphia’s season stats suggest that they are an average team that plays at an average level, but their recent play has been anything but. They’ve won 14 of their past 20 games and, even more remarkably, seven of their past eight games. Philly is peaking at the right time. Teams like the Devils, Rangers and Islanders have greatly struggled to maintain their holds on Metropolitan and Wild Card playoff spots, giving the Flyers new life and a way to sneak into a crowded playoff field.