The Philadelphia Flyers have been playing at an elite level over the past 10 games with a 7-2-1 record, which is 3rd best in the league over that span. Currently tied for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot, the Flyers are coming off a 7-2 road win against the Capitals on Saturday night, in which captain Claude Giroux registered his 800th career point.
The team’s turnaround has been years in the making, as former GM Ron Hextall stacked the farm system with a promising young group of prospects that are finally starting to make an impact at the NHL level. Hextall draft picks Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Carter Hart, and Joel Farabee have been instrumental in leading the Flyers back to relevancy this season.
The majority of the credit for the recent team success should be given to coach Alain Vigneault. In our 12 years of data, when Vigneault was the coach of the NY Rangers from the 2013-14 season to the 2017-18 season, the Rangers registered their Top 3 highest team AB scores of +43.73, +27.24, and +19.62. We also noticed that the Vancouver Canucks registered their Top 4 highest team AB scores under his leadership of +47.9, +22.63, +17.23, and +16.81. In fact, Vigneault’s coaching tenure in Vancouver was the only seasons in which the Canucks registered positive team AB scores over the course of our database. If this is the track the Flyers are headed on, then Flyers fans are in for good times in the near future.
The moves that new GM Chuck Fletcher has made during his short time with the team cannot be ignored either. Despite what the consensus is regarding Kevin Hayes’ contract, he is on pace to set a career-high in points, as he is 17 points shy with 27 games remaining. Hayes was coming off a positive AB production year last season, and has a career score of +0.92, which is why we weren’t as opposed to his payday as others were. Trading Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen was also a solid move, as Gudas’ career AB score is 2.44 points lower than Niskanen’s despite us having 5 more years of data on Niskanen’s end. Lastly, trading for Justin Braun is also looking like a win for Fletcher and his group. Braun’s career AB score is -0.67, and he is coming off his worst season yet with San Jose with an AB score of -5.18. However, Braun appears to be playing better averaging almost two fewer minutes per game than his career average and is a respectable -5 this season as a defenseman playing 17+ minutes per night.
Despite their recent success, the Flyers are still on the playoff bubble, and should be an interesting team to watch over the next couple weeks. Perhaps Fletcher and his group will elect to make some moves to help the Flyers with their playoff push at the deadline, and keep the resurgent season going. Much more to come, as we are quickly approaching our favorite time of the hockey season.