The Flyers have reached the official midpoint of the 2017-18 season. After their win against the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 7, the Flyers have 46 points with a 19-15-8 record through 42 games. They had a 10-game losing streak. They had a six-game winning streak. Their inconsistent play has been evident, but they are still right in the middle of the playoff discussion.
To make the playoffs, they will have to play as a team for the remainder of the season. With that being said, its good to look back through the first three months of the season and recognize the individual players who have performed well for the team. Here are the Midseason Team Awards for the Philadelphia Flyers:
MVP – Claude Giroux
The Captain of the Flyers has proven himself deserving of the ‘C’ on his chest. He continues to shine as the Flyers best player as he has done for the past several years. Through 42 games, Giroux leads the team with 52 points. He is second on the team in both goals and assists with 14 and 38 respectively. Among Flyers, he is near the top in most offensive categories: 2nd in power play points, third in shot percentage, 1st in faceoffs won and faceoff percentage among qualified players, and 4th in ATOI. He has also remained aggressive by setting the tone for his team in big games like he did against the St. Louis Blues.
Giroux and Schenn at it very early on.
Giroux gets the better of him. pic.twitter.com/9pUtJsfgfn
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2018
Off the ice, he has been a leader as well. He has not shied away from the media or made excuses for the team during this roller coaster season. He has consistently spoken to reporters about the team’s struggles and how they simply need to come together and play better. This is expected of a captain, but not always fulfilled by one. Giroux is leading the team on and off the ice and has been the most valuable player.
Iron Man Award – Brian Elliott
Usually, the Iron Man Award will go to a player that has played in every game while showing great offensive and defensive abilities. For the Flyers, the Iron Man Award goes to the player that has been called on time and time again and has handled the heavy workload. Brian Elliott fits that criteria.
The new netminder for the Flyers has been called upon time and time again with little to no rest this season. Prior to the game against the Sabres, Elliott had played 16 games in a row including every game in December and 33 of the Flyers 42 games. He has been up to the challenge, posting a 16-10-7 record with a 2.74 GAA and .910 save percentage. When asked in December if he needed a break, Elliott responded very professionally saying:
“That’s not a question for me. That’s a question for the coach. Like I said, I will take the opportunity [to play] anytime I get it.”
Elliott has been the stabilizing force behind the Flyers defense that they have not had in years, and he is doing it in nearly every single game.
Best Defensive Player – Shayne Gostisbehere
The Ghost Bear is an uncommon specimen in the NHL. He is a defenseman with the offensive capabilities of a forward and a defensive presence to stop other teams from scoring. Not every team has a player like that but, fortunately, the Flyers do.
Gostisbehere is second among defensemen with nine goals this season trailing Columbus’ Zach Werenski. He is third in points with 32 in 39 games played. He has been one of the best in the entire league on the power play with 18 points, 10th best among all NHL skaters. Over the last two seasons, he has the 12th most points among defensemen. On a team where offensive depth has been hard to come by, it’s helpful to have a capable defenseman like Gostisbehere.
He has played exceptionally with Ivan Provorov as the two have faced the top lines of other teams consistently. Of course, he has not been perfect. He has allowed some odd-man rushes to opponents by being too aggressive on offense; however, you accept that from the Ghost when he provides such great offensive numbers. He still has a plus-one rating while logging the third highest ATOI on the team. Shayne Gostisbehere has been all the Flyers have needed and more so far this season.
Best Offensive Player – Sean Couturier
Sean Couturier began his career with the Flyers as the young, defensive-minded forward that would limit Evgeni Malkin’s production in games against the Penguins. He has become one of the best two-way players in the NHL and the best offensive player for the Flyers this season. He leads the team in goals with 23, fourth-best in the NHL. Couturier has posted the second-best marks on the team in power play goals, total shots on goal and shooting percentage. He is third in points and faceoff winning percentage, fourth in assists, and has the best plus/minus of the team at plus-14. Only Ivan Provorov averages more time on the ice.
He has been the best offensive player on the team by playing aggressively. Despite being on the top line, he is fifth among forwards on the team in hits. He can score from anywhere on the ice and plays a consistently aggressive game.
Couturier has really stepped up as a leader on this team. He has been the best offensive player this season.
Mr. Consistency – Jakub Voracek
The most consistent part of Voracek’s game has been his passing. He leads the NHL with 43 assists after 42 games, averaging more than one per night. He is on pace to obliterate his career high in assists (59) and points (81) for a single season, both of which were set in the 2014-15 season.
Voracek has only had three instances where he was unable to register a point in back-to-back games. One such streak was a three-game span, the others two games. No matter what line he has been on, he has been effective. He has found offensive success with perfect passes while also getting his own by leading the team in shots.
He is a plus-six on the ice with 20 points earned in losses and ties and 31 points coming in wins. Voracek has been able to put up consistent numbers in every game, regardless of the play of his team. Brian Elliott has provided stability in net to this roller coaster season, and Jakub Voracek has provided consistency on offense for him and his teammates.
Most Improved – Ivan Provorov
There has been no sophomore slump for Ivan Provorov. He showed plenty of promise as a rookie last year, although he did have plenty of rookie mistakes. This season, he still has had his issues (particularly with giveaways) but the number of mistakes that have had a direct impact on the team have been few and far between. Last year he had six goals and 24 assists in 82 games. This season, he already has eight goals and 12 assists in half as many games. He is playing with more aggression, shooting the puck more often with accuracy and hitting more people.
Ron Hextall and the Flyer coaches entered the season wanting to see if Provorov could be the lead defenseman for the Flyers in the future. Provorov has shown that the future is now in that regard. He has already taken over as the team’s top defenseman, and he will be on the top defense pairing for the foreseeable future. He can play with the defensive minds of players like Haag, the aggressive mind of Radko Gudas, and the offensive mind of Gostisbehere. The defensive unit continues to get better every game with Provorov leading the way.
Newcomer of the Year – Robert Haag
Despite this being his first year in the NHL, Haag has shined as one of the top defensemen for the Flyers. He is second on the team in plus/minus and first among defensemen. His play is simple and provides more confidence than fear for fans. This is important with the number of question marks that have surrounded this team this season. He is first on the team in total hits and hits on the penalty kill. He blocks shots, plays aggressive and stops teams from scoring.
Haag has played very well for the Flyers as a rookie. He is a defensive defenseman that has played well. He has not been perfect and has had plenty of rookie moments, but Haag has already earned a long-term spot as part of the defensive core of the future Flyers.
The X-Factor – Wayne Simmonds
Simmonds has been inconsistent this season, but he has still been able to put up some decent numbers. After 42 games, he has 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points. He has been moved up and down the lineup playing on all three top lines. As mentioned in a previous article about the alternate captain being the X-Factor of the team, the Flyers find success when Simmonds registers a point. If the “Wayne Train” can get rolling in the second half and produce the numbers he has put up in the last few seasons, then the Orange and Black will be rolling into the playoff station.
These awards can change with the season. Which players will be able to keep up their play for the remainder of the year?