The Philadelphia Flyers have finally reached an even .500 record for the first time all season. It took them 23 games, just shy of half the season (24), and 7 tries to accomplish this feat. Prior to yesterday's game versus the Ottawa Senators, the Flyers had 6 opportunities to even out their record, yet they had lost all 6 games. Yesterday was their 7th chance and they finally cashed in.
After a shaky first period against the Senators, the Flyers finally got the ball rolling in the second period when both Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds lit the lamp, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. They would eventually turn that lead into a 2-1 victory with the help of Ilya Bryzgalov who made 33 saves.
The all important 'W' gave the Flyers a .500 record: 11-11-1 leaving them alone in 8th place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points.
The Philadelphia Flyers were able to achieve this goal with the help of their 5-game home stand, but not at first. Things started looking bleak for Philadelphia as they started the stand 1-2, losing against Florida (5-2) and Toronto (4-2) while defeated Winnipeg (5-3). However, the Flyers, in desperation finally flicked on the panic button and won the final 2 games, propelling them to .500.
Several Flyers caught fire at home, including Claude Giroux (7 points), Jake Voracek (7 points), Wayne Simmonds (5 points), and Brayden Schenn (5 points). These four players combined for 10 of the Flyers 15 goals scored during those 5 games.
Special teams also played a huge role for the Flyers during their stand. Philadelphia went 6 for 22 (27%) on the power play, while going 17 for 18 (94%) on the penalty kill.
Great special teams play has been synonymous with victories for Philadelphia this season. In games that the Flyers have won, their power play is 15 for 46 (34%) while their penalty kill is an incredible 44 for 48 (92%). However, when the Flyers lose, their power play is a terrible 5 for 50 (10%) while their penalty kill is just 37 for 48 (77%).
Leaving February Behind
Now that February, the busiest month of the Flyers' shortened season, is complete, they will see a more normal schedule this month. In the month of February, the Flyers played 15 games in 28 days and 22 games in 41 days since the start of the season: more than any other team in the entire National Hockey League. The Boston Bruins, who are currently near the top of the Eastern Conference, have only played 17 games in 41 days.
Philadelphia posted an 8-6-1 record in February.
The month of March will be much kinder to the Flyers, as they will play 13 games in 31 days, including a span in which they only play 1 game in 8 days (March 16—23). However, just because the amount of games is fewer doesn't mean the actual schedule is easier.
In the next 9 games, the Flyers will face 3 divisional opponents twice, including the New Jersey Devils (3/13 & 3/15), the New York Rangers (3/5 & 3/26) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (3/7 & 3/24), while also having to face the conference leading Boston Bruins (3/9).
So February was the month of quantity for the Flyers, while March must prove to be the month of quality if they wish to remain in the playoff hunt.
Roster Moves & Injuries
- On February 26th, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional 4th round draft pick (the condition is that if the Flyers make the playoffs this season, the draft pick will be upgraded to a 3rd round selection).
Gagne, 33, was drafted by Philadelphia in 1998 and played 10 seasons with the Flyers before being traded in 2010. The Flyers are 2-0 since acquiring Gagne and in those 2 games, Simon has 1 goal, 3 hits and 7 shots, while averaging 15:15 minutes of ice time.
- The Flyers waived both Michael Leighton and Tom Sestito in order to send them down to the minors; however, Sestito was claimed off waivers by the Vancouver Canucks. Leighton cleared and was sent down to the Adirondack Phantoms.
- Matt Read (torn rib muscles) skated with the team this week. Read, who was injured February 21, said he was still in a lot of pain especially when taking deep breaths, coughing and sneezing, among other things. Read is estimated to be out 6 weeks, or until mid-April at the earliest.
- Tye McGinn fractured his right orbital bone in a fight during the Toronto game. McGinn was originally estimated to be out 2 weeks, but then it was determined that he would need surgery. CSNPhilly has reported that McGinn had successful surgery yesterday and will miss about a month.
- Andrej Meszaros, shoulder, has been out since January 24, yet has been skating with the team for a few weeks now in recovery. Meszaros may be ready to return to the lineup this week.
Harry Zolnierczyk received a 5-minute major penalty for charging in yesterday's game versus Ottawa. The video clearly shows Zolnierczyk launching himself into Senators forward Mike Lundin. Zolnierczyk's feet left the ice and he made initial contact with Lundin's head. Zolnierczyk received a 4-game suspension for the hit.
- Tuesday March 5 @ New York Rangers
- Thursday March 7 vs Pittsburgh Penguins
- Saturday March 9 @ Boston Bruins
- Sunday March 10 vs Buffalo Sabres
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