Grades for Philadelphia Flyers' Stars at the Olympic Break

Dan FremuthContributor IIIFebruary 13, 2014

Grades for Philadelphia Flyers' Stars at the Olympic Break

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    The Philadelphia Flyers entered the Olympic break on quite a roll.

    The orange and black won four straight tilts and five of six overall in advance of their 19-day hiatus. What's more, Philly's recent surge included victories over Western Conference heavyweights Los Angeles, San Jose and Colorado.

    After a rocky start, the Flyers enter the break third in the Metropolitan Division and just one point back of the second-place New York Rangers.

    If Philadelphia is to remain within the Eastern Conference playoff picture, its stars will have to carry the load.

    Here's a look at how Philadelphia's elite have performed so far.

Claude Giroux

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    Grade: A-

    After a dreadful start saw Philadelphia's captain produce just seven points (zero goals) in his first 15 games, Claude Giroux has been anything but a disappointment since.

    One of the NHL's most dynamic skaters over the last two months, Giroux has amassed 14 goals and 37 points in just 29 games since December 11. That recent surge has not only moved the 26-year-old pivot to the top of the Flyers' scoring chart, but also placed him 11th among all NHLers in scoring with 57 points.

    It's no surprise that Philly's turnaround has coincided with Giroux's reemergence. The orange and black are 13-2-1 this year when their captain records two or more points.

Jake Voracek

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    Grade: B

    Coming off a breakout campaign last season which saw Jake Voracek notch a career-best 22 goals despite the lockout-shortened calendar, big things were expected of Philly's dynamic winger this year.

    Entering the Olympic break, the 24-year-old winger is third among all Flyers in total scoring with 40 points and tied for third on the roster with 15 goals. After averaging just under a point per game last year, Voracek is producing at just a 0.68 PPG clip this season.

    Like many of Philadelphia's skaters, it took Voracek a while to get going.

    He managed just three goals and 12 points in the season's first two months (26 games), but has been significantly better since, compiling 12 goals and 28 points in his last 33 games.

    A model of consistency, Voracek has yet to miss a game this season and has now only missed four total games in two-and-a-half seasons in Philly.

Scott Hartnell

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    Grade: B+

    Last season was a year to forget for Scott Hartnell.

    The 31-year-old power forward missed 16 games due to injury and managed just eight goals and 11 points in the 32 games in which he was able to participate.

    In desperate need of a rebound season, Hartnell has delivered.

    At the break, Philly's rugged winger is tied for third on the squad with 15 goals and is fourth in overall scoring with 37 points.

    After just eight points in his first 22 outings, the Regina, Saskatchewan, native has managed 29 points in 33 games since and has been held without a point in just six contests since December 19 (24 games).

    Hartnell's skating still isn't great and he has occasional defensive lapses, but it's nice to see one of Philadelphia's best personalities back in character.

Vincent Lecavalier

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    Grade: C-

    The irony of Vincent Lecavalier's first season with the Flyers is that when Philadelphia's been at its worst, he's been at his best.

    The 33-year-old forward scored nine of his 12 goals during the season's opening two months, when Philly claimed just 11 victories in 22 outings. Unfortunately, the Flyers were a pedestrian 4-3 in games in which Lecavalier scored during the opening two months.

    Sadly, Lecavalier's hot start hasn't continued despite Philly's turnaround.

    In fact, the 14-year veteran just hasn't seemed the same since he missed nine games in December with a lower-body injury.

    In 24 games since December 21, Philadelphia's free-agent prize has managed just three goals and nine points. During that time, the four-time All-Star endured an 11-game goalless drought and finished with a plus rating just three times.

    All told, Lecavalier is seventh on the team in goals (12) and ninth in points (23). What's worse, he has the dubious distinction of owning the team's worst plus/minus rating (minus-15).

Wayne Simmonds

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    Grade: A

    Giroux may be leading the Flyers in scoring at the Olympic break, but a serious case could be made for Wayne Simmonds as team MVP through the first two-thirds of the season.

    The 25-year-old winger has been on the rise since coming to Philadelphia three years ago and is quickly becoming one of the game's premier power forwards.

    At 6'2", 183 pounds, Simmonds is a load for opposing defenses. He isn't afraid to use his size and strength to grind away on the forecheck or bully his way to the front of the net.

    Through 59 games this season, he's second among all Flyers in both goals (18) and points (42). He's also been a beast on the power play, where he leads all Philly skaters in markers (nine) and is tied for second in points (16).

Kimmo Timonen

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    Grade: B

    There's likely no player on Philadelphia's roster who's as steady from one season to the next as Kimmo Timonen.

    The 38-year-old defenseman is having yet another solid campaign on the Flyers' back end. He enters the Olympic break ranked second among all Philly defenders in scoring with 19 points and is second among all Flyers in ice time, averaging more than 20-and-a-half minutes per game.

    Never as flashy as most of his peers, Timonen still produces as reliable an outlet pass as any NHLer and protects his own zone admirably despite his undersized frame.

    A seasoned power-play quarterback, the Finland native is second among all Flyers in man-advantage assists (13) and continues to bring a steadying presence to Philadelphia's power play, balancing the squad's abundance of youthful forwards.

Mark Streit

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Grade: B+

    The Flyers entered last offseason in desperate need of not only bolstering their overall defense, but finding a long-term replacement for the aging Timonen. Enter Mark Streit, thanks to a four-year, $21 million pact.

    So far, Streit's agreement with the orange and black has been a solid partnership.

    Through 59 games in advance of the Olympic break, the 36-year-old blueliner leads all Philadelphia defensemen and is sixth among all Flyers in scoring with 29 points. Streit's been particularly hot of late, having recorded 10 points in his last 14 games.

    He's still guilty of occasionally eschewing his defensive responsibilities22 games with a minus rating this seasonbut is dynamic enough overall to warrant better than 20 minutes of ice time each and every night.

Steve Mason

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    Grade: A-

    Both Steve Mason and Ray Emery entered the 2013-14 season with an equal opportunity to be Philadelphia's No. 1 netminder.

    Unfortunately for Emery, the competition didn't last long, as Mason's exceptional play early on afforded him an advantage and his consistent play since has solidified his position as the team's netminder for the near future.

    In 44 appearances in advance of the Olympic break, Mason had compiled a 23-14-5 overall mark coupled with a 2.49 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

    While Mason's GAA and save percentage only rank 20th and 15th, respectively, among all NHL goaltenders, they're impressive considering some of Philadelphia's defensive deficiencies this season.

    He's allowed two or fewer goals 23 times this season and has 17 30-save performances under his belt just two-thirds of the way through the current campaign.

    Mason endured a bit of a rocky stretch in late January, but responded nicely before the break by posting a 3-0 record, 1.00 GAA and .969 save percentage in his final three starts before the 19-day hiatus.