Giving thanks for Flyers' blessings

Posted: November 25, 2011

WHILE MOST of the 15 Canadians on the Flyers' roster celebrated Thanksgiving during the first week of the season, back on Oct. 11, there was still plenty of bread to be broken and turkey to be shared yesterday.

Here are 10 things the Flyers can be thankful for this holiday season:

1 THE ISLANDERS: Or should we call them the Slump Busters? The Flyers snapped their two-game skid with a 4-3 overtime win over the Islanders on Wednesday night. They are now 25-2-0 against the Isles since Oct. 13, 2007. Exactly 22 of the Flyers' remaining 60 games are against division opponents, with a possible 10 more points up for grab against the Islanders.

2 ROOKIES: Not only are they built-in fun for the veterans on the roster, but the Flyers' rookies actually have produced this season. The Flyers have accumulated 28 points from first-year players this season, tops in the NHL. Matt Read's five-game scoring streak was broken on Wednesday but he still leads all rookies with nine goals. Sean Couturier has a rookie-best plus-9 rating.

3 PAUL HOLMGREN: The Flyers' general manager made a series of shrewd moves last offseason. He not only changed this team's perception but substantially raised their potential ceiling. We get the sense this Flyers roster hasn't scratched the surface of its abilities yet.

4 CLAUDE GIROUX: For the first time in a generation, the Flyers have a bonafide Hart Trophy candidate in Claude Giroux. He enters today's action just three points back of Toronto's Phil Kessel for the league scoring lead and on pace to be the Flyers' first 100-point player since Eric Lindros did it in 1995-96. Giroux has both the talent and fitness level to maintain that prodigious pace all season.

5 AVOIDING INJURIES: Thankfully, the Flyers have emerged relatively unscathed through the first quarter of the season. Big names like Chris Pronger, Jaromir Jagr, Braydon Coburn and James van Riemsdyk have all missed games due to injury, but the Flyers remain just one point back of the Eastern Conference lead.

6 JAROMIR JAGR: We'll admit that we laughed out loud when the Flyers inked 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr to a $3.3 million deal on July 1. With his recent groin problems aside, he's turning out to be one of the steals of the summer. The rejuvenated Jagr is motivated, passionate and still has the hands and vision that have made him an all-time great.

7 THE LEADERS: Even without a letter on his jersey, newcomer Max Talbot has joined an established leadership group that includes Pronger, Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen. Those four players help give the Flyers a fresh, fun attitude that is palpable on the ice.

8 ILYA BRYZGALOV: It has been just 21 games, but it has been a wild ride for Bryzgalov in Philadelphia. So far, he has trashed himself after a game, been temporarily barred from talking to the media and provided enough hilarious quotes to fill a book. But he's also gone 5-1-1 in his last seven games and is rounding into the form we expected.

9 SCOTT HARTNELL: Few players have had a more complex relationship with a fanbase than Scott Hartnell has with Flyers fans over the past few seasons. In October, many were clamoring for a trade after a slow start. Now, Hartnell is second to only Giroux with 19 points in 21 games.

10WINTER CLASSIC: For the second time in 3 years, the Flyers will skate on an outdoor rink over the New Year's holiday. This time, they get to do it at Citizens Bank Park, and they will get to watch themselves on HBO in the "24/7 Road to the Winter Classic" reality series. A 12-minute preview of the series, which debuts on Dec. 14 at 10 p.m., airs tonight on HBO at 9:15.

Jagr out

Jaromir Jagr skated for just 7 minutes and 52 seconds on Wednesday night on Long Island before pulling himself from the game after reaggravating the groin injury that kept him out of the previous two games.

Jagr told reporters on Wednesday that he will likely not play this afternoon against Montreal or tomorrow at Madison Square Garden vs. the Rangers.

"I probably came back 2 days too early," Jagr said. "But I didn't want to just sit around. I love this team too much. I wanted to help. We've got two games and then 5 days off. I think I'm not going to play these two games and make sure when I come back, I want to come back strong."

Slap shots

Chris Pronger is also doubtful for this afternoon's game. According to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, Pronger is still "day-to-day" with a virus. He did not travel with the team to Long Island . . . The Flyers were embarrassed, 5-1, by the Canadiens on Oct. 26 . . . The Flyers' overtime win on Long Island saved them from being swept by the 13th (Winnipeg), 14th (Carolina), and 15th (Islanders) seeds in the Eastern Conference in consecutive games.


For more news and analysis,

read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

 

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