Philadelphia Flyers: The Rise and Fall So Far This Season

Matt PerezContributor INovember 20, 2010

Philadelphia Flyers: The Rise and Fall So Far This Season

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 26:  Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Buffalo Sabres on October 26, 2010 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Sabres 6-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers are a quarter of the way through their 2010-11 campaign, and the team has managed to make headlines multiple times this season.

    So far, the team has been very successful, going 12-6-2 and topping the Atlantic Division.

    The following is a list of elements on the Flyers team that are rising to the occasion and the aspects of their game that are declining.

Declining: 5. Matt Carle

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18:  Matt Carle #25 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lightning defeated the Flyers 8-7.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Get
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    This is a borderline pick this early in the season, but it should be noted nonetheless. 

    Carle has only produced six assists, and the defenseman can be guilty of some very mediocre plays here and there.

    He’s still a plus-4 and isn’t playing bad, but he is going to have to turn it up if he wants to match his great stats from last season (6 G, 29 A, plus-19).

Declining: 4. Power Play

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18:  Kimmo Timonen #44  of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lightning defeated the Flyers 8-7.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Last year, the Flyers were third in the league in power play goals with a 21.4 percent success rate.

    So far this season, they are only 11th, going 17-for-88.

    Though it seemed like it was picking up a little midway through these 20 games, it’s returned to a lackluster state.

    They are getting their opportunities and are even looking good, but it’s not showing up on the stats sheet right now.

Declining: 3. Brian Boucher

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 26:  Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates with teammate  #33 after defeating the Buffalo Sabres on October 26, 2010 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Sabres 6-3.  (Pho
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Brian Boucher is a player with a lot of heart and has done a lot of great things for the Flyers’ organization. When fans do the Boosh chant, there is some real sincerity behind it.

    But with Sergei Bobrovsky playing phenomenally and Michael Leighton coming back from injury, the vet is going to have to possibly play past his capabilities for a spot in the line-up.

    Boucher was playing very well coming into the season but when he started, the team in front of him looked dead.

    Bobrovsky started 12 games in a row and a cold Boosh was thrown in during the second period of the most recent Bolts game.

    Michael Leighton is a goalie who can come in at any time and play great. It was seen during the regular season and the Boston playoff series last year.

    I’d love to give a guy like Boosh the benefit of the doubt, but when Leights comes back, it looks like Boucher will be the odd man out.

Declining: 2. Penalties

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18:  Nate Thompson #44 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores the game winning goal at 5:19 of the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers and is joined in the celebration Sean Bergenheim #10 at the Wells Fargo Center on November 1
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Really, what’s new?

    The Flyers are 28th in the league for penalties taken with an average of 18.5 per game.

    As a Flyers fan, I’m going to blame it all on the refs. I mean come on, did you see that Montreal game?

Declining: 1. James Van Riemsdyk

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates in a hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Though he worked all off-season to get stronger and was looking faster during the preseason, James van Riemsdyk has been a healthy scratch recently for the Flyers. He’s only returned to the lineup because of an injury to Daniel Carcillo.

    It’s a result of his lack of production, garnering only six assists and zero goals in 16 games. He’s also looking uninspired, not using his strength to his advantage.

    With the benching of JVR, Laviolette has made it clear that in order to make the starting roster, players have to work hard and produce. Andreas Nodl is starting above JVR because he’s shown lots of improvement, and it’s coming through on the stats sheet.

    Though JVR is very young and needs more time on the ice, Lavvy is employing some tough love, and hopefully, it’ll come through during the rest of the season.

Rising: Honorable Mentions: Darroll Powe

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    The numbers might not say it, but Powe has been working hard on the scoring lines.

    He’s an all-around great player, and he’s eight points away from breaking his point mark from last year.

    Just check out this pass from the second Bolts game of the season.

Rising: Honorable Mentions: Richie, Carts, Z

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lightning defeated the Flyers 8-7.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Ge
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    These guys have started producing big numbers recently.

    Richards got off to a slow start during the season, but he’s had an offensive explosion, tying Claude Giroux for most points on the team with 21. He’s playing like a top-tier captain, putting it all on the ice every night.

    Carter looks comfortable on the wing and the numbers show it, scoring nine goals and contributing seven assists. His pretty new 11-year contract should keep him motivated throughout the season.

    The biggest question coming into the new season was could Nikolay Zherdev come out of his slump and replace fan-favorite Simon Gagne.

    Early in the season it wasn’t looking good as the points weren’t coming, and he was returning to his disappearing nature on the ice. But after his benching by Laviolette, Zherdev has been hot, scoring seven goals so far and looking more physical and faster on the ice.

    These guys are doing what’s expected of them, and those are high expectations to say the least.

Rising: 5. Andreas Nodl

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 21:  Andreas Nodl #15 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Anaheim Ducks on October 21, 2010 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Here’s a guy who has paid his dues and finally deserves a spot on the roster.

    In the 2008-09 season, Nodl was only able to get four points in 38 games played. Last year, he only gained an assist in ten games played.

    In 11 games this year, Nodl has scored four goals and has contributed three assists, and it looks like the 2006 draft pick is here to stay finally.

Rising: 4. Andrej Meszaros/Sean O'Donnell

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18: (L-R) Sean O'Donnell #6, Andrej Meszaros #41 and Blair Betts #11 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrate Meszaros' second period goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2010 in Philadelphia,
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The top plus/minus player in the league isn’t a star defenseman or a killer forward. It’s a veteran third-liner by the name of Sean O’Donnell. His partner, the young Andrej Meszaros, happens to be tied for third in the league.

    Now for everyone who expected that to happen … okay, if you actually expected that, you need a reality check. Do you also believe in Santa Claus ... and that Roberto Luongo is a good goalie?

    It’s true though, Meszaros and O’Donnell, who are a combined plus-28, have been excelling at their job so far this year. They’ve been very consistent on the ice and are taking minutes off of the top-four defensemen.

    As added bonuses, Meszaros is starting to contribute on the scoreboard, and O’Donnell is showing leadership in both the locker room and through his physicality.

Rising: 3. 19-48-22

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    BOSTON - MAY 10:  Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers is congratulated by teammates Matt Carle #25, Ville Leino #22 and Danny Briere #48 after Hartnell scored a goal in the first period against the Boston Bruins in Game Five of the Eastern Confe
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Hartnell-Briere-Leino

    The line that excelled in the play-offs with a combined 27 goals has continued where they left off as the best line on the team.

    Laviolette wisely kept the three players together, and it has paid off. Combined, the players have contributed 19 goals and look ready to score every time they are out on the ice.

    Hartnell is at his best right now, creating space for Briere and Leino and helping out with bounces in front of the net.

    Leino is creating opportunities left and right with his impressive skating and excellent puck control. He sees the ice better than most and is emerging as one of the Flyers’ top playmakers with 13 assists.

    Then there is Danny Briere whose new attitude on life has helped him earn his paycheck with 10 goals so far this season.

    Things are definitely looking up for these guys.

Rising: 2. Sergei Bobrovsky

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18:  Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers tends net against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lightning defeated the Flyers 8-7.  (Photo by Bruce Be
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    “What about Bob?”

    More like “Where the hell did Bob come from?”

    The rookie goaltender is making everyone notice with his unexpectedly stellar play this year.

    Earlier this season, Bob went on a six-game win streak that saw him second to only Vezina Trophy winner Pelle Lindbergh in consecutive wins as a rookie goaltender in franchise history. Even in the game that he dropped to end the streak, the rookie dished out an impressive performance and made highlight reel saves throughout. The Russian truly does look better every start he makes.

    With a goals against average of 2.29, a save percentage of .925 and a winning record of 11-3-1, many people are asking the question “What about Bob?” when discussing Calder Trophy candidates. Without a doubt, Bobrovsky is among the leaders along with fellow goaltender Michal Neuvirth and Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner.

Rising: 1. Claude Giroux

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 18: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lightning defeated the Flyers 8-7.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/G
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Not a game goes by that Flyers’ fans don’t marvel at the incredible moves of one Claude Giroux.

    The third-year player is quickly emerging as the team’s No. 1 forward within a deep Flyers’ roster.

    The management thinks so too, awarding the slick 20-year-old with a three-year, $11.25 million contract extension.

    Each shift Giroux takes the ice, he’s liable for a highlight reel play. Giroux currently leads the team in points with 21 and is tied with Danny Briere for most goals on the team with 10. With only 20 games played, he’s six goals away from matching his 2009-10 goal mark.

    If No. 28 continues performing like he has, he might be up there with the greats by season’s end.