Thursday, January 21, 2010

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Well... it's been about a month since I last posted. It's now a new decade, and I'm less than four months from graduating college. Scary.

In the sporting world, the Flyers have rebounded nicely (like I said they would!) as they've gone 9-3-1 since December 23rd, and are pinballing between the 8th and 9th spots in the conference. Tonight they have a tough game against the New York Rangers, before playing Carolina and Pittsburgh over the weekend (seriously, it seems like we play Pittsburgh on the tail end of back to back nights every time this year). Wins in all of these games will firmly put us in the playoff picture, so hopefully the Flyers take advantage of that.

I'm really liking the way the Flyers have been playing recently. Their offense is simply on fire right now, as they've scored three goals or more 10 times in the past 13 games. The best part about that is that it's not just one or two guys doing all the scoring. Everyone is contributing including some of the grinders like Asham and Carcillo. Carter has been white-hot lately and he's a goal away from reaching the 20 goal mark again. The only player who's been conspicuously quiet lately is Mike Richards. He only has three goals and 8 points in the past 11 games, and one of those was an empty net goal. He just hasn't been as consistent as he's been in the past. I haven't even noticed him making the big hits he's capable of.

One of the better moves Laviolette has made since become the head coach was moving Giroux to take over the third line center duties. His passing abilities and the way he creates space when he has the puck makes him a natural center. He made a beautiful no-look-behind-the-back-spin pass to Asham for an easy goal on Tuesday. I'm hoping he continues to make JVR and Asham look like stars.

The one player who I can no longer stand watching is Coburn. He has been absolutely terrible this year. He's become a cross between Chris Therien and Randy Jones... he doesn't hit anyone and he turns the puck over as soon as he's pressured. Hopefully he can turn it around because he has been a solid defenseman the past couple of years and it's been hard to watch him regress the way he has.

Two of the biggest reasons the Flyers have made such a turnaround in the past few weeks (in my opinion) has been the return of Darrol Powe from injury, and a major improvement in our penalty killing. During the 3-13 stretch, the Flyers were absolutely awful on the penalty kill as their PK% dropped from the top 10 in the league to the bottom 5. During the 9-3-1 stretch, the Flyers killed off something like 25 straight penalties and brought the PK% back to respectability. The return of Darrol Powe was also a huge boost (in my opinion) because he was the spark that drove the 3rd and 4th lines. Powe is easily the fastest skater on the team, and is the most offensively skilled player out of the Carcillo/Asham/Laperierre/Betts group. Having him back in the lineup gives the Flyers the ability to control the play when their third line is on the ice.

Anyways, in short- the Flyers have looked a lot more like the team we thought they would be back in October. Once Emery starts playing up to his potential again, the Flyers could be very tough to stop.