Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Flyers' historical struggles in February

[UPDATE, 10:30 a.m.:] The Flyers have re-called defenseman Ben Holmstrom from Adirondack for tonight's game. Holmstrom would make his NHL debut if he was to be put in the lineup by Peter Laviolette. Since the 23-man roster is no longer in effect after the trade deadline, the Flyers did not need to assign anyone to the Phantoms to make room for Holmstrom. Holmstrom, a product of UMass-Lowell, has 10 goals and 17 assists in 60 games for Adirondack this season. ---- Take a look at the Flyers' month by month record this season:

Flyers' historical struggles in February

[UPDATE, 10:30 a.m.:] The Flyers have re-called defenseman Ben Holmstrom from Adirondack for tonight's game. Holmstrom would make his NHL debut if he was to be put in the lineup by Peter Laviolette. Since the 23-man roster is no longer in effect after the trade deadline, the Flyers did not need to assign anyone to the Phantoms to make room for Holmstrom. Holmstrom, a product of UMass-Lowell, has 10 goals and 17 assists in 60 games for Adirondack this season.

----

Take a look at the Flyers' month by month record this season:

October: 6-4-1 (13 points)
November: 9-2-3 (21 points)
December: 8-4-1 (17 points)
January: 10-2-0 (20 points)
February: 7-4-1 (15 points)

Does anything stand out? In the short month of February, the Flyers collected just 15 points, their lowest total of any month besides the first month of the season.

Tonight, against Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers turn the page to March - where they will play a ridiculous 15 games in 29 days.

Somehow, along the way, the Flyers managed to go a span of 27 days without losing by more than one goal and they have not lost back-to-back games since Dec. 20 and 28. They will look to keep that streak alive tonight.

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Flyers season statistics

With a 40-16-6 record - strangely 20-8-3 record both at home and on the road - the Flyers are on pace to finish with a 53-21-8 record, which would put them just 4 points shy of a franchise record.

Would you believe that some of the other top teams in franchise history have also struggled through February, which are the dog days of the NHL season?

For top hockey teams, it's apparently human nature to fall asleep at the wheel during the month of February. It’s deep enough into the season to have a cushion in the standings but far enough away from the playoffs that there isn’t a real concern of a free fall.

Here’s the February record of four of the top 10 regular seasons in Flyers history:

1973-74: 6-3-3 (went on to win Stanley Cup)
1974-75: 7-4-2 (went on to win Stanley Cup)
1976-77: 5-3-4 (lost in Semi-Finals)
1986-87: 3-5-1 (lost in Stanley Cup Finals)

The Flyers have 20 games to go. Check out how those teams finished:

1973-74: 15-2-2, 112 points (78 GP), went on to win Stanley Cup
1974-75: 15-1-2, 113 points (80 GP),  went on to win Stanley Cup
1976-77: 10-3-4, 112 points (80 GP), lost in semi-finals
1986-87: 9-7-2, 100 points (80 GP), lost in Stanley Cup Finals

For the record: the franchise record holder in points (1975-76 season, 118 points), went 10-0-2 in the month of February. They went on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to Montreal. In their other four Stanley Cup Final appearances, the Flyers went 8-3-1 in 1984-85, 7-2-2 in 1979-80, 7-3-2 in 1996-97 and 5-2-0 in 2009-10 in the month of February.

Still, do you think the Flyers were eager to flip the page in the calendar?

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette used the three days in between games this week wisely, putting his team through vigorous on and off-ice workouts to prepare them for the rigors of March, April, May and... June?

INJURY UPDATES for tonight’s game:

  • Chris Pronger (hand/wrist contusion) is probable after missing one game.
  • Blair Betts (lacerated finger) is probably after missing two games.
  • James van Riemsdyk (lower-body injury) is a game-time decision. He was a healthy scratch on Saturday in Ottawa.
  • Dan Carcillo (illness) is doubtful after missing two days of practice.

EXPECTED LINEUP:
according to Wednesday’s practice

Zherdev - Giroux - Carter
Nodl - Richards - Versteeg
Hartnell - Briere - Leino
Shelley - Betts* - Powe

*because of his lacerated finger, Darroll Powe may take the majority of face-offs.

Defensemen: Pronger, Timonen, Carle, Coburn, Meszaros, O’Donnell

Healthy scratch: Nick Boynton

Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in net.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers


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About this blog
Frequent Flyers is your home for news and analysis of all things orange and black. Reach Frank at seravaf@phillynews.com.

Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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