Flyers' report cards at the break: From A-pluses to a D-minus

FLYRTALK12
Flyers goalie Brian Elliott (left) and Jake Voracek are among the players receiving good grades for the team’s up-and-down first half of the season.

The Flyers had an inconsistent first half of the season, becoming the fifth team in NHL history to have a six-game winning streak immediately after going winless in 10 straight.

After four days off the ice because of a mandated NHL break, they resume practicing Friday in Voorhees at 4 p.m. and play in New Jersey on Saturday night, hoping to build on a three-game winning streak.

Here are their grades for the first half, one in which they compiled a 19-15-8 record, putting them one point out of a playoff spot entering Thursday:

OFFENSE

Grade: C-plus

Comment: They are 15th in the 31-team NHL, averaging 2.93 goals per game and, for most of the first half, relied too much on their top line. The good news: After coach Dave Hakstol recently put Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds on three different lines, the Flyers have had better scoring balance. The power play has been good, clicking at 20.8 percent (tied for ninth in the league), and the Flyers have been dominating in the faceoff circle, second in the NHL at 52.8 percent.

FORWARDS

Sean Couturier: 23 goals, 19 assists, 42 points, plus-14 rating.

Grade: A-plus

Comment: Can you say breakout season? He was bypassed for the All-Star Game but deserves to be there. The Flyers’ best defensive forward, he has already set career highs in goals and points. Stunningly, he has eight more goals than Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby.


Claude Giroux: 14 goals, 38 assists, 52 points, plus-9.

Grade: A-plus

Comment:  It took him a year to recover fully from abdominal and hip surgery, but Giroux’s speed and shiftiness have returned. Moved to left wing, he entered Thursday tied for second in the NHL in points, tied for second in assists and fifth in faceoff percentage (57.6 percent).


Jake Voracek: 8 goals, 43 assists, 51 points, plus-6.

Grade: A

Comment: He leads the league in assists and is on pace for 100 points. Enough said.


Wayne Simmonds: 14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points, minus-7.

Grade: B

Comment: Assorted injuries (leg, foot, mouth) slowed him for more than a month, but Simmonds has regained his mojo. If the Flyers fall out of the playoff race, it will be interesting to see if he is dealt because he could bring a bundle of draft picks or prospects.


Scott Laughton: 7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points, plus-2.

Grade: B-minus

Comment: The fourth-line center is on pace for 14 goals and has played with a relentless style.


Val Filppula: 9 goals, 8 assists, 17 points, minus-1.

Grade: C

Comment: He has been a solid but unspectacular player in most phases and has been extremely reliable in the faceoff circle (54.4 percent success rate).


Michael Raffl: 7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points, plus-9.

Grade: C

Comment: One of the Flyers’ most determined players, he had a slow start (0 points in his first 21 games) and a strong finish (13 points, including seven goals, in his last 21 games) to the first half.


Travis Konecny: 5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, minus-5.

Grade: D-plus

Comment: He was struggling for most of the season but has had a revival since being placed on the top line alongside Giroux and Couturier.


Jordan Weal: 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points, even.

Grade: D-plus

Comment: After he scored eight goals in his final 19 games last season, the Flyers were counting on him to be a big part of their offense. It hasn’t happened, though he did show some positive signs recently.


Dale Weise: 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points, minus-7.

Grade: D

Comment:  Playing mostly on the fourth line, Weise has had an up-and-down season.


Nolan Patrick: 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, minus-2.

Grade: D

Comment:  A concussion caused him to miss nine games and get out of a flow, but Patrick – who also was slowed by off-season abdominal surgery — has had a difficult time making the gargantuan leap from juniors to the NHL. The good news: He has played better lately.


Taylor Leier: 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, minus-5.

Grade: D

Comment: He has not been a factor and was removed from the penalty-killing unit as he had a difficult time reading plays.


Jori Lehtera: (0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, minus-3)

Grade: D-minus

Comment:  He was acquired as part of the Brayden Schenn trade in what was a salary dump by St. Louis, and it would be surprising if the unproductive Lehtera ($4.7 million cap hit) isn’t bought out before next season.

DEFENSE

Grade: C-minus

Comment: The Flyers are ranked 16th in the league, allowing 2.83 goals per game. Their penalty kill has been successful just 75 percent of the time, placing them 28th. If the PK doesn’t improve, this team will not be in the playoffs.

Camera icon YONG KIM
Ivan Provorov has anchored the Flyers’ defense.

DEFENSEMEN

Ivan Provorov: 8 goals, 12 assists, 20 points, plus-5.

Grade: B-plus

Comment: The Flyers’ best defender, he is also becoming a big part of the offense. He leads the Flyers with 95 blocked shots, ninth in the NHL. But only 11 players in the league have more giveaways than Provorov.


Shayne Gostisbehere: 9 goals, 23 assists, 32 points, plus-1.

Grade: B-plus

Comment: His all-around game has been better than his standout rookie season.  His defense has improved, and he is tied for fourth in scoring among NHL defensemen.


Robert Hagg: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, plus-12.

Grade: B-minus

Comment: The rookie is second in the NHL with a team-high 138 hits. He has been mostly steady but has made his share of rookie coverage mistakes.


Andrew MacDonald: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, plus-5.

Grade: C-plus

Comment:  MacDonald has steadied the lineup since returning from a leg injury. Overall, the Flyers are 16-9-2 with him and 3-6-6 without him.


Brandon Manning: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, plus-1.

Grade: C-plus

Comment: A warrior who plays as hard as anyone, his physical style and consistency have put him ahead of promising rookie Travis Sanheim.


Radko Gudas: 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, plus-4.

Grade: C-minus

Comment: He has shown more discipline since returning from a 10-game suspension. The Flyers need him to continue to play with a controlled edge.


Travis Sanheim: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, minus-9.

Grade: D

Comment: Defensive mistakes have put him on the bench, but Sanheim’s strong skating has given fans a glimpse of his offensive capabilities.

GOALTENDING

Grade: B-minus

Comment: Brian Elliott has picked up the shaky defense and has kept the Flyers competitive in most games.

GOALIES

Brian Elliott: 16-10-7 record, 2.74 goals-against average, .910 save percentage.

Grade: B

Comment: Elliott was steady, has proven to be a workhorse – he made 16 straight starts at one point — and stole some games with his solid play.


Michal Neuvirth: 3-5-1 record, 2.48 GAA, .921 save percentage.

Grade:  B-minus

Comment: Sidelined for a huge part of the first half because of an injury, he got into just 10 games but played reasonably well.

COACHING

Grade: C

Comment: Coach Dave Hakstol gets points for moving Giroux to left wing and making Couturier the top-line center. The move could not have worked better. But the Flyers got off to too many slow starts, and their inconsistent play – and the way they played up or down to their competition – was maddening. The penalty kill, directed by Ian Laperriere, has struggled mightily, but the Kris Knoblauch-coached power play has been more creative, and the top unit has excelled while the second unit has been unproductive.