Early losses may harm Philadelphia’s Stanley Cup chances
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:02
In a lockout-shortened season, losing early can doom a hockey team in the National Hockey League.
The Philadelphia Flyers suffered through a rough start while injuries to forwards Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, but have since been working to turn their season around.
After a 3-2 defeat at Washington, the Flyers have earned a record of 3-1-1.
The Flyers picked up a big 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tom Sestito, an enforcer for the team, scored the two goals and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 21 of 22 Lightning shots en route to the victory.
Philadelphia followed up that victory with a loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers in a shootout.
Saturday, The Hurricanes and Flyers met once again and Philadelphia notched the win.
Pacing the Flyers so far is second year forward Matt Read.
Read, who played college hockey at Bemidji State University, scored 24 goals in his rookie season and now leads the Flyers with five goals and nine points.
In addition to Read, Jakub Voracek has also been a point producer for Philadelphia.
Other players will need to step up in the absence of Hartnell and Simmonds, and Read and Vorcek have been consistent this season.
However, in order to keep pace with Atlantic Division rivals New Jersey and Pittsburgh, the Flyers must string together wins on a consistent level, which is something the Flyers have lacked.
The next handful of games is crucial for Philadelphia.
The Flyers embark on a six-game road trip that includes stops in Montreal, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Winnipeg.
Another problem that has plagued the Flyers is the lack of depth scoring.
Philadelphia will need production from unexpected sources such as Sestito in order to fill the void left by Hartnell and Simmonds.
From the blue line, Kimmo Timonen, who signed a one-year contract extension, leads Flyers defensemen with seven points.
Braydon Coburn and Kurtis Foster are tied for second among Flyers defensemen.
As always, goaltending is the key question for the Flyers to solve if the team wants to win their first Stanley Cup since 1975.
Bryzgalov’s contract weighs heavily on the Flyers and the expectations for him loom large.
His goals against average and save percentage are solid, but he needs help from the offense in order to improve his 5-5-1 record.