From “Think not”, to “Man are they hot !”by Joseph Birmingham
After a much needed sports and writing sabbatical, I return to the scene to observe the streaking Flyers. At Christmas time, I never would have believed this team stood a shot at leading the Atlantic, I was simply hoping they would qualify for the playoffs. Imagine my happy surprise when I observed the latest power rankings propelling the Flyers from 21st to 12th in the standings !
There are a few reasons for this resurgance that puts the Flyers in third place in the Atlantic divison and 6th place in the conference at the two week break for the winter olympics. If they resume play on March 2nd and pick up where they left off, they still stand an outside chance of closing the ten point gap between them and the first place Devils.
The two things that standout the most over the past month is the play of recently acquired Michael Leighton in goal (12-3, 2.19 GAA, 1 SO) and the offensive surge led by Center Jeff Carter. Leighton was awarded the league second star of the week this week for his efforts in net and Carter posted 5 goals in the last four games before the break, all Flyers wins, and has not had a negative +/- since one month ago today. He now leads the team with 27 goals and 25 assists and is a decided presence on the Broad Street Bullies power play line of late.
This Flyers team is well balanced, much like their baseball counterparts, meaning, nearly every offensive player has the capability to come up with the game changer. There are no Flyers in the top 20 in the league, and yet, this team has scored 62 goals in their last 19 games, going 13-6 in that span. Six weeks ago, I commented on a post, they could not continue to give up 3+ goals a game and have no offensive presence if they wanted to work their way back into contention.
Sadly, I missed this resurgence, as I shut myself in a small dark room after the Phillies lost to the Yankees, the Eagles tanked on their season, and the Sixers welcomed Iverson back as a “solution” to a dismal season, that continues to be so. Now I am revived by the hope that the Flyers might make a year of it. They stand as good a chance as any other team in their division, the Devils and Penguins are holding about even, but Laviolette has the Flyers smoking a comet trail up the standings with most the momentum as they approach the final month of the regular season.