The Flyers are almost 20% through the 2017-18 NHL season, and, as expected, there’s been some good and bad.
Here, I’ll try to talk about some of the good and bad.
• Nolan Patrick is as advertised. When Patrick has been healthy, he’s been a force to be reckoned with. While he isn’t showing up on the score sheet consistently, it is easy to tell that the depth in the lineup is gone with him out with his “upper-body” injury. Patrick has one goal and two assists in the nine games he has played this year, but his hockey IQ makes up for any points he has not put on the score sheet.
• Ivan Provorov is a beast. Through 15 games, he’s averaging 24:55 in time on ice and has two goals and six assists for eight points. At only 20 years old, Provorov is already showing that he’s going to be a perennial Norris Trophy caliber defenseman for his career. He’s that impressive.
• The Flyers finally have a fourth line. Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl have been phenomenal. They have been driving play and getting scoring chances, and give a much needed break to the top three lines when necessary. They’ve also excelled defensively. They are in contention for the best fourth line in the league.
• The goaltending consistency is still an issue. When Ron Hextall chose to let Steve Mason walk in free agency, he had another short-term option in mind with Brian Elliott. Elliott had a rough start to last season, but ended up carrying his team to a playoff birth. Elliott has not continued his late season success into this season with the Flyers. While he does boast a 5-3-1 record, his GAA of 3.11 and save percentage of .892 leaves a lot to be desired. Michal Neuvirth is having a much better season with a slightly smaller sample size. He has a record of 2-3-1 with a GAA of 2.17 and a save percentage of .928, both of which are in the top seven among NHL goaltenders. The Flyers will be looking for more consistency from Elliott, who has been getting more starts despite worse overall statistics.
• Injuries. Nolan Patrick and Shayne Gostisbehere have both missed some time in this early season. Patrick with six games and counting and Gostisbehere is back on the ice after missing three games. Even though Patrick only has three points in the nine games he has played, he is clearly missed as his replacement is Jori Lehtera. Patrick did have the injury prone tag when he came out of the draft but there is nothing he can do about a concussion. Hopefully he returns soon and can get back to his old ways of being the glue that holds the third line together.
Overall, the Flyers are sixth in the Metro with a record of 7-6-2, but are only four points out of first place. The division is a lot tighter than most would have expected and if the Flyers can clean up their goaltending and get over their injury woes the Flyers have a great shot to get themselves into a permanent stay in the top three before long.
And, a fun fact: As of this post, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek have more points than Conor McDavid and Sidney Crosby.