Philadelphia Flyers Finally Showing Signs Of Life

C KSenior Analyst INovember 22, 2008

It appears that the slow start for the Philadelphia Flyers is over.

The Flyers have won four-out-of-five, and that loss was a 5-4 shoot-out loss to Pittsburgh in which the Flyers played great in.

On top of the wins, the team is playing a whole lot better, especially the defense.

The addition of Matt Carle is proving to be huge for this team. It adds some stability to the defense, and when Ryan Parent and Randy Jones come back, this defense will be even better. Come January, I would be afraid of this defense if I was any other team.

Back to Matt Carle. The Carle trade is quickly looking like the trade with Atlanta which gave the Flyers Coburn.

In that deal, the Flyers gave up Alexie Zhitnik and received Braydon Coburn. As it turned out, Coburn has become one of the league's elite defenseman while Zhitnik is no longer in the NHL.

In this deal, the Flyers gave up Steve Eminger and Steve Downie for Matt Carle. Carle was a promising player, but San Jose had problems with him, and he wasn't producing for Tampa Bay, so the Flyers got him.

So far, Carle has been everything Coburn was when he first arrived. He's been a very productive defenseman by eating up ice time, clearing pucks,  and getting involved in many plays. He has single-handedly made this defense a whole lot better.

Moving on.

On offense, the Flyers now have seven players with five or more goals through eighteen games. They are on pace to have seven 20+ goal scorers, just as they did last year. Except last year, one of those players was Vinny Prospal, who only played with the team for a month. So officially, they are on pace to have one more 20+ goal scorer than last year.

The two big players on offense for the Flyers have been Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter.

Carter is tied for second in the league in goals with 13, while Gagne is tied for fifth in the league in goals with 11.

Gagne also has 12 assists, while Carter has just three. That's no surprise, as Carter's big weapon is his shot.

Adding those together, Gagne is tied for seventh in the league in points with 23.

But besides those two, there's another player who's been key for the Flyers this season on offense. That's Mike Richards.

Richards was projected to have an outstanding season, and even though he isn't having that season, he's doing just what he should be doing.

With no Briere for the most part this year, Gagne needs someone to get him the puck. That person becomes Richards, who has 14 assists and 5 goals.

Also, his powerplay and penalty kill play has been good as well.

He may have just one goal and one assist on the penalty kill, but as I said above, Gagne needs someone to get him the puck, and Richards gets it to him on the penalty kill. That's why Gagne leads the league in shorthanded goals.

Add to that Richards' leadership, and he's a fine job.

But what about the goalies? Remember how terrible they were playing? Not anymore.

In the last six games, the Flyers have allowed just 11 goals. That is a goals against average of 1.83.

What a huge difference from the beginning of the year, when both Martin Biron and Anterro Niitymaki had a GAA of over 3.00. Now, they've both gotten their GAA down to below 3.00.

So are the Flyers back? Or is this just another one of their streaks?

I hate to jinx my teams, but I do think they're back.

The defense is clicking, the offense is on fire, and the goalies have their swagger back.

So Flyers fans, let's get ready for another wild season.