Philadelphia Flyers' 5 Keys to a Fast Start After Olympic Break

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IFebruary 23, 2014

Philadelphia Flyers' 5 Keys to a Fast Start After Olympic Break

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers were on fire before the Olympic break, winning five out of six games on their West Coast road trip.

    They're now entering the final portion of the season as NHL play resumes this week. The Flyers will be getting five key players back from Sochi and need them all to contribute.

    But there are plenty of other things that have to be on point for the Flyers to start off strong and build momentum down the home stretch.

    Here are the Flyers' five keys to a fast start after the Olympic break.

Top Line Leading the Charge

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Claude Giroux leads the Flyers in goals, assists and points. But after him, the Flyers offense hasn't exactly been consistently productive.

    Giroux's linemates have been particularly frustrating. Jakub Voracek has been only average this season on the right wing, and a few guys have filled in on the left. Michael Raffl plays fast and fits in reasonably well with Giroux and Voracek, but he isn't exactly producing at a first-line winger level. 

    Raffl has just 18 points in 46 games. Voracek hasn't been anywhere near as good last year either, with 40 points in 59 games after scoring at roughly a point-per-game clip last year.

    Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds have both been really good over the past month or so, and they could get shots to snag a spot on the line.

    Regardless of who ends up at the other wing, these guys need to step up and put the weight of the offense on their backs.

Olympians Staying Fresh

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    The Flyers had five players represent the Orange and Black in these Olympics, and ironically enough, none of them played for either Team Canada or Team USA.

    Andrej Meszaros of Slovakia, Mark Streit of Switzerland, Michael Raffl of Austria, Kimmo Timonen of Finland, and Jakub Voracek of the Czech Republic all have been playing high-level hockey these past couple weeks.

    Luckily, none of them suffered any injuries (as far as we know), but they'll all undoubtedly be a little gassed from all the travel, stress and fast-paced play of the Olympics.

    While the rest of the NHL was resting up, Olympians were busting their butts out there, and that has to be taken into account over the first week of NHL play.

    But each of those five players are really crucial guys for Philadelphia, and they need to be ready to go from the first whistle back here.

Steve Mason Picking Up Where He Left off

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    Mason has been arguably the biggest storyline for Philadelphia so far, and for once, there's actually positive things being written about a Flyers goaltender.

    He's really shown that talent that won him a Calder Trophy five years ago, and even though there have been a couple mini-slumps, he's been really solid.

    The 25-year-old was absolutely on fire right before the Olympic break. He won three straight starts in February, including a 35-save shutout against the Los Angeles Kings.

    Mason allowed just three total goals during that stretch and will be looking to get himself back to that level right off the bat. 

Vincent Lecavalier Getting Going

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Vincent Lecavalier was signed to a big five-year contract this summer, and there were big expectations in Philadelphia for the former captain.

    After a good start to the season, Lecavalier was bit by the injury bug and has seen his performance on the ice absolutely deteriorate.

    He has just 23 points in 46 games, which is simply not enough for a guy with as much talent as Lecavalier. The 33-year-old has just four points in his last 12 games.

    Hopefully with the long break for the Olympics, Lecavalier was able to get himself fully healthy and readied for the final stretch of the season.

    The Flyers will need him to be in top form to start strong and make a push for the postseason.

Get Shots on Net

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    The Flyers need to come out strong offensively and put the puck on the net in droves. They are a completely different team when they are generating shots.

    It may seem like an obvious point, but the numbers really prove an interesting point. When the Flyers out-shoot their opponents, they win 64 percent of the time, the fourth-best percentage in the league.

    But when the Flyers are out-shot, they only win 42.4 percent of the time, which is ninth-worst in the league.

    That's a pretty startling disparity, and it goes to show how important shots are for Philadelphia (and many other teams).

    The Flyers need to jump all over San Jose in on Feb. 27, and then they must take that momentum into the final two months of the season.