Midseason report cards for Flyers

Posted: December 27, 2013

HARD TO believe, Harry.

On Thursday, the Flyers will hit the midway point of their 82-game march toward the Stanley Cup playoffs. Their goal is nearly halfway accomplished. After a 1-7-0 start to the season, they went 16-9-4 over their last 29 games to enter the holiday break in playoff position.

With grades curved slightly in favor of their performances over the last month, here are the Flyers' midseason report cards:

Sean Couturier

Grade: A

Comments: Finally able to purchase an adult beverage legally on Dec. 7, Couturier is playing like the fantastic, shutdown, defensive forward he showcased in his rookie season. And he's back to scoring, on pace for a career-high in goals (16) and points (38).

Claude Giroux

Grade: B+

Comments: The Flyers' captain drew the ire of fans for his putrid start with seven points in 15 games, but Giroux has 13 points in his last seven games (26 in his last 22) and is getting back to his point-per-game pace while the rest of his numbers return to career norms.

Michael Raffl

Grade: B+

Comments: It's hard to fully appreciate how big of a jump Raffl has made from Sweden's second-tier league to the NHL. Many have tried, far more have been stuck in the AHL. His speed has brought out the best in Giroux and Voracek.

Adam Hall

Grade: B+

Comments: Hall is the player who has picked up the penalty-killing slack since Max Talbot's sudden departure to Colorado. He has been excellent in faceoffs and generally doesn't take a shift off. He's a maintenance-free professional.

Brayden Schenn

Grade: B

Comments: Schenn is slowly but surely coming into his own in the NHL. His talents are apparent, but it is also painfully obvious when he plays a laid-back, "reaching" game with stick checks instead of his physical self. He has been one of the Flyers' better forwards.

Vinny Lecavalier

Grade: B

Comments: When he's been healthy, Lecavalier has been one of the Flyers' more consistent scorers with 15 points in 24 games. Three different injuries in the first half of the season have slowed down the 33-year-old former Rocket Richard Trophy winner.

Jay Rosehill

Grade: B

Comments: Fans love to knock Rosehill's game, but he has more than a few supporters in the Flyers' dressing room. He fights, doesn't take stupid penalties, and has better-than-your-average-enforcer wheels and hands.

Matt Read

Grade: B

Comments: Read has 10 goals in 36 games, which puts him slightly below the pace he set (24) in his first full season in 2011-12. He has taken on a more defensive role this year, too, playing major minutes (19:47 a night) with Couturier.

Steve Downie

Grade: B

Comments: For one, Downie's joking spirit has made the dressing room brighter. He's also played pretty solid since his Halloween trade from Colorado, collecting 12 points in 20 games. He knows his role, has mostly stayed out of the box and has fit in well.

Jake Voracek

Grade: C+

Comments: Voracek gets bonus points for his play in the last eight games (13 points), because he otherwise would be in the "C" grade range. This was supposed to be the year Voracek took off, following an MVP year last season. Maybe it still can be.

Wayne Simmonds

Grade: C+

Comments: Few players care more or try harder than Simmonds. He brings his energy and work ethic every night, he just hasn't scored consistently enough. His new line, with Hartnell and B. Schenn, could be the solution for that problem, though.

Zac Rinaldo

Grade: C-

Comments: Rinaldo is a heart-and-soul type player, someone truly eager to play at the NHL level. He just doesn't have much of a role on Craig Berube's defense-first roster, which is why they're trying to mold him into something more, like a penalty-killer. His penalties, though sometimes due to reputation and not fault, have been costly.

Scott Hartnell

Grade: D+

Comments: To say Hartnell has had a tough season and a half would be an understatement. He has just six goals in 33 games and was bumped from the top line 2 weeks ago. When Downie returns, Hartnell could find himself on the fourth line.

Incomplete: Chris VandeVelde, Tye McGinn, Kris Newbury.

Nick Grossmann

Grade: A

Comments: Nicknamed "Grossy," he is the Flyers' best defenseman in the truest sense of the position: He defends better than anyone else. He is willing to do the "gross" work, too. Grossmann is fifth in the NHL in blocked shots (94) and fights through a ton of pain and punishment to remain in the lineup nightly.

Hal Gill

Grade: A

Comments: Why give such a high grade to a player who has played a grand total of four games? He has a much larger role than that, serving as a mentor to young players. Gill offers pearls of wisdom from his 1,106-game career with a relatable, hilarious style.

Braydon Coburn

Grade: B

Comments: Coburn has harnessed his biggest asset (speed) to become a vital organ in Craig Berube's master plan. Watch over the last month: His activity at the blue line and getting involved in the rush has increased dramatically. Turnovers are down, his confidence is up.

Mark Streit

Grade: C+

Comments: Streit's grade is based more on reputation and expectations than anything else. He hasn't been terrible, but has only begun to scratch the surface in his adjustment to the Flyers. Streit (13 assists) could be in for a big second-half.

Kimmo Timonen

Grade: C+

Comments: Talk to the Flyers' staff and Timonen is an indispensable part of their defense corps. From high above the rink, Timonen looks like a wise and calm defenseman who is just a half-step slower than he used to be.

Luke Schenn

Grade: C+

Comments: He's been drilled to work on his skating since Berube took over, and it has paid off. Lately, Schenn has been more involved in the play. He is on-pace for a career-high in goals and never lost confidence from early season scratches.

Erik Gustafsson

Grade: C-

Comments: It's probably fair to wonder where the Flyers go from here with "Gus." He is 25 and rotating in and out of the lineup as the sixth/seventh defenseman. He doesn't seem to think the game as quick as most - and his confidence level leaves him guessing sometimes.

Andrej Meszaros

Grade: C-

Comments: Meszaros, 28, has waded through a mental minefield with his injuries and benchings. He isn't out of shape, but he seems to get beat most often behind the net. He is in the final year of his contract, playing to stay in the NHL.

Steve Mason

Grade: A

Comments: In a first-grade classroom, Mason would have a star next to his name. He has been the Flyers' unquestioned MVP. He is unbeaten in regulation in his last six starts (4-0-2) and battled through a couple of tough games to rebound into the break with an important win (for his confidence and the standings) over Minnesota.

Ray Emery

Grade: B

Comments: Emery's stats (3-7-0, .885, 3.23) aren't great, but there is only one game (at Chicago, Dec. 11) that the Flyers didn't have a chance to win the third period and win the game. He got them there either tied, winning or trailing by one heading into the final 20 minutes in nine of his 10 starts. Plus, his relationship with Mason keeps his peer calm and cool.

Craig Berube

Grade: A

Comments: Berube has been a pleasant surprise for most, though those who knew his mind for the game aren't surprised by his success. It took 10 to 12 games for his defense-first system to take effect. While there will still be bumps in the road, he has the Flyers playing what he believes is the "right way," and it's paying early dividends.

Paul Holmgren

Grade: B

Comments: Firing Peter Laviolette after three games took "brass balls," as one other NHL GM recently described it. Through 34 games, it appeared to be the right move. The team has settled in and Holmgren's only other move - swapping Talbot for Downie - seems like a shrewd one. If the Flyers teeter on the edge and miss the playoffs, though, it will be interesting to see whether Holmgren calls the shots with a lot of cap space to burn this summer.

Through 37 games: Couturier, Giroux, B. Schenn, Rinaldo, Voracek, Simmonds, Streit, Timonen, Coburn, Mason, Emery.


Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|