Written By: Mark "The Hard Hitter" Ritter
For the most part, December has been a month the Philadelphia Flyers would like to forget.
Through the first 10 games of December the Flyers “earned” themselves a record of 2-7-1 and, in the process, at one point, dropped all the way down to 29th overall in the NHL standings.
Over that gruesome 10-game period the Flyers had been all but abandoned by their fans with some even going as far as to wear paper bags over their heads at home games. Newly-hired coach Peter Laviolette was supposed to be the Flyers savior but, thus far, has received a luke-warm reception, which is fair considering the Flyers' lack of results.
Through all the poor play there was always the resonating sound of dressing room angst and power struggles, something that took its toll on the players, especially Mike Richards and Chris Pronger, two players that were thought to be the key cogs in the Flyers leadership issues and debate.
Many of the Flyers players seemingly lost their desire to play in December. Void of emotion and often playing uninspired hockey, the Flyers looked out of sync and, as the month went by, looked to be out of time in terms of turning things around.
Trade rumors ran rampant with the names of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell, and others often making headlines. Then came the news that Ilya Kovalchuk was being sought-after by the Flyers, leading to more speculation about many of the Flyers star players' future with the orange and black.
Thankfully, the Flyers have turned things around in their past four games, posting a record of 3-1 and, the trade rumors have subsided.
As a result of the modest winning streak, the Flyers have inched their way out of the cellar in the Atlantic Division into fourth place and now sit just two points behind the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference—thank you parody!
During this three-game winning streak numerous Flyers have stepped up their games. Mike Richards has three goals and one assist, Carter has two goals and one assist, Pronger has stepped up his game and posted two assists and Scott Hartnell has three assists.
Some unsung heroes have been stepping up over the past three games for the Flyers as well. Claude Giroux has three assists, Daniel Briere has two goals and three points, Simon Gagne had a two-point effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and goaltender Michael Leigton has three wins in a row.
The Flyers' recent success could not have come at a better time, not only were the Flyers desperate for points, but with the Bridgestone Winter Classic looming, it was imperative for the Flyers to get it together before they had the spotlight focused on them for what should be the highest rated NHL game of the season.
The Flyers have one more game against the New York Rangers on Wednesday before heading to Boston to participate in the Winter Classic against the surging Boston Bruins who have pulled off three wins in a row as well.
The Winter Classic will take place on New Years Day at 1 p.m., an event that will take place at historic Fenway Park, home of the legendary Boston Red Sox.
I will be covering this event LIVE for Bleacher Report and will have access to players, media conferences, and other events. Check back often for updates, inside scoops, and details on my experiences as an accredited writer.
Until next time,