As an exciting All-Star Break comes to a close, All-Star MVP Wayne Simmonds and the warriors in orange and black are looking to keep things rolling after a nice rest.
They built some momentum by winning three straight after having a month of January they most certainly will want to put behind them.
Here are five things to look for as the second half of the season is set to begin:
1. Shayne Gostisbehere
It is no secret that our prized rookie last season is facing a sophomore slump. Though that may not be entirely his fault, his numbers on the powerplay are well below average for a player of his skill set. Last season, the Ghost had a 12.7 shooting percentage on the power play. This season, that percentage has dropped to under 4%. It is also important to mention he currently had the worst plus-minus on the team with -17. Ouch. The snakebitten defenseman will look to step up his game during the second half of the year.
2. Andrew MacDonald
Now that MacDonald has finally hit 40 games, he is now eligible for the expansion draft this offseason. This also means that if the Flyers defense gets healthy, he most likely will be scratched from the lineup alongside Nick Schultz.
3. Travis Konecny/Ivan Provorov
Much like Gostisbehere last year, our rookies are once again a bright spot this year. Provorov, 19, is leading the team in ice time. Konecny is among the team leaders in plus-minus, and both rookies have 22 points at the halfway mark. They have emerged as impact players and look to finish their rookie seasons strong.
4. Steve Mason
Let’s face it. Mason has actually done pretty well the first half of the season given the circumstances. It’s hard to be a top-tier goaltender with mediocre defense in front of him. With all that being said, he has done pretty well. A healthy defense will lead to better things for Mason as well, who will most likely get the bulk of the second half starts.
5. The Philadelphia Flyers
Yes, the entire team makes number five on the list. Here’s why: Not a single player on the Flyers roster has a plus rating! There are only four other teams in the entire league that have more goals-against than the Flyers. In order to improve this, the team needs to play a full 60 minutes of hard hockey every game.
Having won their last three games, the Flyers are finally beginning to look like the team we saw during the 10-game winning streak.
Photo:Peetlesnumber1 (via: Wikimedia Commons)