Report Card for Philadelphia Flyers at Halfway Point of 2013-14 Season

Brad KurtzbergContributor IDecember 30, 2013

Report Card for Philadelphia Flyers at Halfway Point of 2013-14 Season

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    The Flyers are back in contention at the halfway mark of the season.
    The Flyers are back in contention at the halfway mark of the season.Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers are nearly halfway through the 2013-14 NHL season. After a slow start, the team has rallied and is now in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Metropolitan Division.

    Here is a look at each player's midterm grade for the season. The grade is based on a combination of performance and expectations. A strong finish to the first half of the season is counted slightly more than a strong start. Also, players are only graded on games they played for the Flyers, not on games they played for other teams.

    Feel free to comment on any of these grades or to give your own for any player. As always, state why you feel the way you do.

Forwards

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    After a slow start, the offense is picking up.
    After a slow start, the offense is picking up.Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Claude Giroux: The captain got off a dreadfully slow start and actually didn't score a goal until the 16th game of the season. Still, Giroux has finished strong and currently has an eight-game point streak. The Flyers need Giroux to be productive if they are to score enough to win consistently. He appears to be getting the message. Grade: B

     

    Jakub Voracek: Ten of Vorecek's 27 points have come on the power play. He also has been red-hot lately, scoring in his last nine games. He's not a physical player, but when he's on, Voracek makes opposing defenses wary. Grade: B-

     

    Wayne Simmonds: Simmonds also finished hot, scoring two goals in each of his last three games after a slow start to the season. Simmonds is more physical than his linemates, and he can help the team even if he's not contributing a lot of points. Grade: B-

     

    Brayden Schenn: Schenn is second among Flyers forwards in hits with 87. He still needs to find his long-term role but has made himself into a useful player at either center or wing when called upon. If he could settle down at one position, it would probably help both Schenn and the Flyers. Grade: B-

     

    Scott Hartnell: I don't think Hartnell will return to his 30-plus goal pace of two years ago, but he should be doing better than this. He's barely on pace to score 15 goals, and that's not what the Flyers bargained for when they signed the veteran winger to a long-term deal. Grade: C

     

    Matt Read: Read is a minus-seven this year, but he does have 10 goals in less than half a season, which isn't awful for a guy that doesn't always get top-six minutes. He seems to score goals in bunches and play his role. Grade: B-

     

    Sean Couturier: Sometimes it's tough to remember than Couturier is only 21 and in his second NHL season. He has good size and offensive tools but has yet to put it all together at the NHL level. He is responsible defensively, which makes him more valuable while he learns. Grade: B-

     

    Vincent Lecavalier: When healthy, Lecavalier has been the Flyers' most consistent forward, but staying healthy has been a problem. He adds experience and leadership and helped pick up the team when nobody else was scoring earlier in the season. You get the feeling if the Flyers make the playoffs, Lecavalier will play a major role. Grade: B+

     

    Steve Downie: Downie was a great pickup by general manager Paul Holmgren early in the season. He helped ignite the third line when he joined the team and has 12 points in 21 games and is a plus-three. Downie is more than playing his role when he's healthy. Grade: B+

     

    Michael Raffl: You look at his stats and they don't jump out at you: two goals and nine points in 26 games. But Raffl helped make the first line more productive when Lecavalier was out of the lineup, and his speed is an element this team needs badly. He may return to the bottom-six, but Raffl has the potential to play on any line when called upon. Grade: B

     

    Adam Hall: Hall is what he is: a fourth-line role player who can check opposing players, kill penalties and add very little offensively. He averages less than one shot on goal per game. Grade: C+

     

    Zac Rinaldo: Rinaldo's job is to stir things up by hitting anything that moves. He is the Flyers' energy guy and leads the team in hits and penalty minutes. He has one assist and is a minus-nine in 38 games, but he's not on the ice for his scoring ability. Grade: B

     

    Jay Rosehill: Rosehill is an enforcer and not much else. He has one goal in 22 games but 59 penalty minutes. His best role is dropping the gloves and protecting his teammates, but you don't want him skating out there on a regular shift. Grade: C+

Defensemen

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    The Flyers have eight NHL defensemen on the roster.
    The Flyers have eight NHL defensemen on the roster.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Mark Streit: Since being acquired from the New York Islanders last summer, Streit has been a bit of a disappointment. He has scored three goals and 16 points in 38 games and is a minus-three. Half of his points have come on the power play, which was one area he was counted on to improve. Streit does provide leadership, but he's far from the 50-point player he was a few years ago. Grade: C+

     

    Kimmo Timonen: A lot of people thought Timonen was done at the age of 38, but he has a little left in the tank. Offensively, eight of his 12 points have come on the power play, but Timonen is actually a plus-two right now, which has to be a surprise to many observers. He's not a top-pair defenseman anymore, but he's still useful. Grade: B-

     

    Braydon Coburn: Because he stands 6'5", Coburn never seems to do enough to satisfy. He has great size and some offensive talent, but you wish he'd hit more often and use his skills in the offensive zone a bit more. You want more than 52 hits in 38 games from a big guy like Coburn. Grade: B-

     

    Nicklas Grossmann: Grossman has seven assists and has yet to score a goal this season. He is primarily a stay-at-home defenseman who uses his 6'4" frame to his advantage in his own zone. Grossmann is a minute-muncher, and that has value on any team. A little more consistency would make his grade higher. Grade: B

     

    Erik Gustafsson: Gustafsson has two goals and seven points in just 20 games this season. He has some offensive upside and ability. He's also a plus-four, which is good. Gustafsson is not very physical. While that's not his game, he would be more effective in his own zone if he got a little stronger. Grade: B

     

    Luke Schenn: Luke has three goals and one assist in 35 games and is a minus-five. Schenn is a defense-first type of defenseman, but he needs to be a little more consistent in his own zone. He likes to hit opponents and doesn't hesitate to do so. Schenn still has the ability to get better and is just 24. Grade: B

     

    Andrej Meszaros: Meszaros has only played in 18 games and has one goal and three points. His inconsistency, especially in his own zone, has been a factor in his limited playing time. Meszaros should be a very good puck-moving defenseman, but he needs to learn how to play in his own zone at the highest level first. Grade: C

     

    Hal Gill: Gill has played in only four games and is a minus-two. He is experienced, but at 38, he's probably best suited for a depth role. Grade: Incomplete

Goalies

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    Steve Mason and Ray Emery are the Flyers goalies this year.
    Steve Mason and Ray Emery are the Flyers goalies this year.Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

    Steve Mason: Mason has been a great pickup for the Flyers since they acquired him at the trade deadline last season. The former Calder Trophy winner found his consistency and regained the confidence that has eluded him since his rookie season. He's 15-9-4 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. He's cooled off a little since his great start to the season, but the Flyers would never have gotten back into the playoff hunt this season without Mason's strong goaltending. Grade A-

     

    Ray Emery: While Emery hasn't put up the outstanding numbers he had last year with the Chicago Blackhawks, he's been a solid backup for the Flyers who has stepped up and played some solid games when needed. His fight with Braden Holtby grabbed headlines, but his shutout the next night was more important for team morale. His 3.23 GAA and .885 save percentage are pedestrian, but Emery serves his role well. Grade: B-

Special Teams

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    The power play will be a key to the Flyers' second-half success.
    The power play will be a key to the Flyers' second-half success.Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Power Play: The Flyers are 15th on the power play, right in the middle of the pack. They have scored 27 goals in 147 chances for an 18.4 percent success rate. At least the Flyers are getting lots of chances with the extra man. There has been improvement here lately. The Flyers have allowed five shorthanded goals, and only one team (Edmonton) in the league has allowed more (eight). Grade: B-

     

    Penalty Kill: The Flyers are 10th on the PK with 27 goals allowed in 156 shorthanded situations, which gives them a 82.7 percent kill rate. The penalty kill is best when it's aggressive and pressures the puck. Mason has often been the team's best penalty-killer, and that's always an important part of a successful PK. Grade: B

Coaching

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    Craig Berube took over after three games.
    Craig Berube took over after three games.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Craig Berube took over as coach before the club's fourth game. This is the first time he's been a head coach at the NHL level. Both Berube and his team needed some time to adjust to each other.

    Berube seems to have the confidence of his players. He has not been afraid to juggle line combinations and make changes when necessary. Players know they have to earn ice time, and that's a good message to get across.

    Berube has emphasized defense more than his predecessor, and in the long run, that's a good thing for this franchise.

    The team has gradually improved under Berube's leadership. They still have a ways to go before they reach their full potential, but you can see they are moving in the right direction.

    Grade: B