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Ranking the Top Candidates for Philadelphia Flyers' Team MVP

Brad KurtzbergContributor IMarch 21, 2014

Ranking the Top Candidates for Philadelphia Flyers' Team MVP

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    Claude Giroux is the heavy favorite to be MVP of the Flyers this season.
    Claude Giroux is the heavy favorite to be MVP of the Flyers this season.Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in the thick of the Metropolitan Division playoff race as the 2013-14 NHL season enters the home stretch.

    After a slow start and a coaching change, the Flyers found their identity and have become a team few opponents want to play against.

    Here is a look at the top five candidates for MVP of the Flyers this season. They are listed in order of the strength of their candidacy, with the favorite listed last. The players are ranked based on a combination of their statistics and their value to the team on and off the ice. Any contributions made prior to this season on or other teams during this season is not taken into account.

    Only players are eligible, so head coach Craig Berube, who did play a major role in the team's renaissance this season, was not considered here.

    Feel free to comment on this list with the player you feel is most deserving or to include a player who was not mentioned here. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

     

5. Scott Hartnell

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    Scott Hartnell picked up his play in the second half of the season.
    Scott Hartnell picked up his play in the second half of the season.Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Scott Hartnell is in fifth place right now, but it's a distant fifth.

    Hartnell has 18 goals and 44 points in 65 games, which are rather pedestrian statistics.

    But it's the little things that Hartnell does that earned him a place on this list. He is an important part of the Philadelphia power play, and he provides a gritty, physical element that the team thrives on.

    Hartnell is third among Flyers forwards with 124 hits, but that's first among players on the top two lines.

    In addition, Hartnell is a veteran leader in the locker room. He seems to come up big in the most important games and situations.

     

     

4. Kimmo Timonen

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    Kimmo Timonen has been the Flyers' best defenseman.
    Kimmo Timonen has been the Flyers' best defenseman.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Kimmo Timonen just turned 39, and this may be his final NHL season. Still, he doesn't seem to be slowing down much and remains the Flyers' best puck-moving defenseman.

    The Finnish defenseman has four goals and 28 points in 66 games and has a plus-seven rating.

    Timonen remains the most reliable passer among the team's defensemen. He also serves as quarterback of the power play and has 17 assists while the Flyers have had the man advantage.

    Since the Olympics, Timonen has raised his game another notch just when the Flyers needed him for the stretch drive.

     

    Kimmo Timonen, who is on the ice now, turned 39 today. He has been excellent since returning from Olympics.#Flyers

    — Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 19, 2014

    Timonen doesn't neglect his own end of the ice, either. He is second on the club with 94 blocked shots.

    The leadership and intangibles that make him a valuable member of Flyers landed him in fourth place on our list.

     

3. Wayne Simmonds

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    Wayne Simmonds adds grit, leadership and power-play productivity.
    Wayne Simmonds adds grit, leadership and power-play productivity.George Nikitin/Associated Press/Associated Press

    Wayne Simmonds has been a steady force for the Flyers this season, and the statistics back that up.

    The 25-year-old native of Scarborough, Ontario is second on the team in goals (23) and points (52) and leads the team with 13 power-play goals, which puts him in the top three of the league in that department.

    He is a persistent forechecker, which helps key the Philadelphia attack. He's also not afraid to stand up for his teammates and drop the gloves when it's necessary.

     

    Berube: Simmonds is power forward. Forecheck is what they do. His game has improved on rush.

    — BuzzOnBroad (@BuzzOnBroad) March 21, 2014

    This season represents Simmonds' career-best point total and at 25, he is just starting to enter his prime.

    His strong overall play earned him the third spot on our list.

     

2. Steve Mason

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    Steve Mason has been a key contributor for the Flyers.
    Steve Mason has been a key contributor for the Flyers.Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

    Critics scoffed when the Flyers opened the season with Steve Mason as their starting goaltender, but the Oakville, Ontario native proved his detractors wrong.

    Mason saved the Flyers early in the season when the team struggled to score goals. While Mason had some rough patches this season, the Flyers wouldn't be close to clinching a playoff spot without the strong play of their starting netminder.

    Overall this season, Mason is 29-16-6 with a 2.56 GAA and a .915 save percentage.

    Those are good numbers, but not the type of numbers that put a player in the All-Star Game.

    Still, Mason's steady, solid play has been more than enough to give the Flyers confidence when they needed and was a big reason the team overcame a slow start to get back into the thick of the playoff race.

    Mason's importance to the team landed him the second spot on the list.

1. Claude Giroux

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    Claude Giroux is the Flyers' captain, best player and likely MVP.
    Claude Giroux is the Flyers' captain, best player and likely MVP.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    There is little doubt who the Flyers' MVP for 2013-14 should be: Claude Giroux.

    Giroux is the Flyers' captain and their emotional leader. He also leads the team in goals, assists, points, power-play points and game-winning goals. He is in the top five of the league in points.

    Veteran forward Scott Hartnell summed it up best when he told Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Guys will follow him to the Ben Franklin Bridge and jump off if he is going to lead the way. He just has a presence about him."

    As Giroux goes, so go the Flyers.

     

    Flyers have won the last 14 straight games in which Giroux has registered a point.

    — wayne fish (@waynefish1) March 21, 2014

     

    By a large margin, Claude Giroux is the MVP of the 2013-14 Flyers.

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