Each Philadelphia Flyers Star's Best Highlight in 2013-14 So Far
The 2013-14 season has been a campaign of ups and downs so far for the Philadelphia Flyers.
A dismal 1-7 start gave way to a November that saw the Orange and Black claim nine of 15 games. The Flyers have taken steps backward in December, though, producing a 2-3-2 start to the calendar's final month.
Still, Philly enters the week just three points back of both third place in the Metropolitan Division and eighth place in the Eastern Conference. And despite a somewhat turbulent start to the season, the Flyers have still produced more than their fair share of highlights.
Here's a look at each Flyers star's best highlight in 2013-14 so far.
Claude Giroux's early-season struggles were well documented.
Zero points in his first five games. Just seven points (all assists) through his first 15 outings. And no goals in 21 games dating back to mid-April 2013.
But that long goal-scoring drought finally came to an end during Philadelphia's November 9 showdown at home with the Edmonton Oilers.
With the Flyers leading 2-1, Giroux broke a loose puck out of the defensive zone, leading to a two-on-one. Philly's captain dipped into the slot before rifling home a snap shot just inside the left post. The ensuing celebration played more like a sigh of relief than anything.
It also served to open the floodgates for the highly talented Giroux.
In 17 games since converting his first marker of the year, the Hearst, Ontario, native has produced six goals and 17 points and has managed at least one point in 12 of those 17 contests.
When healthy, Vincent Lecavalier has been Philadelphia's most efficient goal scorer.
Despite suiting up in just 22 games to date, the 33-year-old forward is still tied for the team lead with nine goals.
Three of those came in a 5-2 triumph over the New York Islanders on October 26.
The first goal, a power-play tally, was one of Lecavalier's team-leading five man-advantage markers and was exactly the play Philadelphia draws up to unleash the veteran's sizzling slap shot on the power play.
Meanwhile, his second displayed the phenomenal hand-eye coordination that has helped Lecavalier produce nearly 400 goals throughout his NHL career. After kicking a pass from his skate to his forehand, the Quebec native saw his initial shot turned away only to answer Kevin Poulin's denial by tapping the puck out of midair and into the back of the Islanders' net.
Finally, Lecavalier's hat trick conversion was a picture in persistence as his tenacious pursuit of the play resulted in a tap-in at the top of the crease.
Brayden Schenn needs a big season this year to help validate Philadelphia sending former captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings to acquire him back in the summer of 2011. So far, Schenn is delivering.
The fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft is second among all Flyers in scoring (18 points), tied for second in assists (11) and tied for third in goals (seven).
What's more, Philly needs Schenn to be an impact forward, and the Saskatoon native had arguably his biggest impact of the season to date when he notched both Flyers goal in a signature 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 13.
The first of those was a goal scorer's goal.
After winning a puck battle below the goal line, Wayne Simmonds fed a pass into the slot for Schenn who gathered the disc quickly before unleashing a bull's-eye snap shot over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury and into the upper right hand corner of the Pittsburgh goal.
Touted as a pure sniper, this is exactly the kind of goal Schenn needs to be converting at the NHL level.
Sean Couturier is often heralded as Philadelphia's best defensive forward, but his offensive contributions shouldn't be overlooked.
At just 21 years old, the Phoenix native is fourth among all Flyers in scoring with 16 points and has been scorching hot of late, having registered six points in just seven December outings after managing only 10 points in the season's first 26 games.
Couturier's big offensive outburst came less than two weeks ago when the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft produced two goals and four points in a come-from-behind 6-3 win at the Detroit Red Wings.
His two assists came first. The first was a perfect pass from the right wing half boards to a streaking Steve Downie in the slot to get Philadelphia on the board. Meanwhile, the second was an astounding dish from below the Detroit goal line through three Red Wings before resulting in a Matt Read conversion.
Couturier then showed his fearlessness and hand-eye coordination by redirecting in the eventual game winner at the side of the Detroit goal. Finally, an empty-netter ended the eye-opening night for one of Philly's rising stars.
It's sometimes easy to forget the fact that Scott Hartnell is less than two years removed from a 37-goal season. In fact, the Regina, Saskatchewan, native closed the 2011-12 campaign tied for sixth among all NHLers in conversions.
But an injury-shortened season last year limited Hartnell to just 32 games and only eight goals, and it's been a struggle for the veteran power forward to get back on track this year.
But goals like the one he scored earlier this month against Detroit remind us just how dangerous the 6'2", 210-pound forward can be.
He possesses the hockey sense and overall offensive awareness to know when to pop out into the slot to free himself before unleashing one of the better slap shots in the league. Hartnell's always been able to score in and around the net front, but when he's converting opportunities like this, he's exponentially more dangerous.