As the Flyers hit the “bye-week” 42 games in, just past the mid-point of the season, now is a good time to sit back and reflect on the tumultuous season that has unfolded so far. Half the year is over and we still are not exactly sure if this team is a playoff contender or a lottery team, a ten game losing streak followed closely by eight straight wins has further muddied the waters around the team’s identity.
But what we can identify is the strengths and weaknesses the team has, and who has stood out, for better or for worse. So without further ado, here are the mid-season awards for your Philadelphia Flyers.
*All stats are accurate as of the time of writing*
MVP- Claude Giroux
This one isn’t really a debate, Giroux has bounced back from a rough 2016-17 to absolutely catch fire this season so far. Through 42 games Giroux has tallied 14 goals and 38 assists for 52 points, good for 2nd place in the league scoring race Not only has Giroux done well for himself, but he has also made the players around him better as well. Giroux’s line mates are all performing well, Sean Couturier has already bested his career highs in points and goals, Jake Voracek currently is tied for 3rd in the NHL in points, as well as leading in assists with 43, and the newest beneficiary to the Giroux effect, Travis Konecny, has five points in six games since being moved up to the top line beside Giroux and Voracek. In addition to his point output, he places second on the team in Corsi for and Relative Corsi, first for faceoff percentage, and third in shooting percentage. Giroux finally looks fully recovered from his surgery from a season’s past and has once again began to look like the star from years past. His on-ice vision is exceptional, and his ability to find teammates and control the play has never looked better. The fire is back and Giroux shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, if he can stay healthy and continue his torrid pace he will easily eclipse his career high of 93 points.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)- Dale Weise
Throughout the first half of the season, Dale Weise has continued to look near invisible in his ability to affect a game on a consistent level. In the 98 games Weise has played with the club, he has tallied a meager 21 points, with just 12 goals in that time. Often more noted as a burden, rather than an effective member of a line, Weise has only further proved his 4 year contract to be a massive overreach as the secondary scoring component he was signed for has just not materialized. Weise has the fourth worst relative Corsi on the team, as well as having zero power play goals even though he has gotten significant minutes on the second unit. Weise has been an anchor on Nolan Patrick, Val Filppula, Scott Laughton, and Taylor Leier, wherever he is played, he seems to make the players around him worse, and every line with him on it performs poorly. Weise has been in and out of the lineup, but keeps drawing in quite frequently in proportion to his actual performance. Subpar as usual, and it looks like Weise may start to fade away from the starting lineup, and we may be seeing more of him in the press box.
Biggest Surprise: Sean Couturier
Another obvious one here. After being given the reins to center the Flyers’ first line, Sean Couturier has been on absolute fire for the entire first half of the season. He already has career high in points, as well as goals, with an entire half of the season remaining, and has finally broken that 40 point ceiling that has eluded him for his entire career. Couturier has developed a deadly partnership with Claude Giroux, with Giroux playing set-up man and Couturier consistently putting the puck in the net for the first time in his career. His shooting percentage has jumped up to a career high 18%, and while that is most likely not sustainable, it has been buoyed by the amount of times he is left with a wide open net off of a pass that leaves him alone a couple of feet in front of the net. So we will have to see if Couturier plateaus in the second half, but right for now he has been lethal in front of the net, and it looks like he is poised for a 70+ point season, and a secure spot as the first line center for the foreseeable future.
Featured Image: moonlight.jpg / Flickr Creative Commons.