Unlike last week, these past seven days have been a roller coaster for the Philadelphia Flyers. It started off with a 6-1 blowout loss on Monday at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. The next day, the Orange and Black looked like a completely different team, shutting out the Sabres 3-0. Two days later, the Flyers faced one of their toughest tests yet against the Boston Bruins. It was a back and forth battle, but the Bruins ended up coming away victorious in the shootout, giving the Flyers 3 out of a possible 6 points. On Saturday, it was not even close. Boston thoroughly outplayed the Flyers and defeated them 6-1. Even though the team lost 3 of their past 4 games, they are still tied for second in the Eastern Division, and there were certain players that have started to find their groove.
Voracek This Out!
It was a quiet first week for Jakub Voracek, but since Tuesday’s victory, he has begun to find his rhythm and scoring touch again. He potted his first goal of the season against Buffalo and then followed that up with a three assist night against Boston on Thursday. In 2 of those cases, those goals went to James van Riemsdyk, while another went to Travis Sanheim. On Saturday, he added another asisst to his name on a Kevin Hayes goal. The trio of Voracek, JVR, and Hayes has produced three of the top four scorers on the Philadelphia Flyers so far.
Last season, Voracek scored 56 points in 69 games, and the Flyers would be very happy if he could provide that type of production once again. He has succeeded more and more as a passer instead of a shooter, and if this is the case, you can expect high numbers from all three members of the Flyers top line. Everyone who has at least 5 points on the team has double digit shots on goal throughout the season. Voracek only has 6. If he can pass and start shooting the puck more, we could be in line for a season from 93 that mirrors his point a game pace.
Many people were curious as to why the Flyers signed Kevin Hayes to a seven year, $50 million contract in the summer of 2019. As it turns out, he was exactly what the team needed. He put up 13 points in 16 playoff games, by far the highest among Flyers players. To start this season, it seems like he picked up right where he left off.
Working on the aforementioned line with Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk, Hayes has been able to pick up 5 points in the last 3 games, 2 goals and 3 assists. His 8 points are more than any other Flyer over the first 5 games of the season, and he’s also one of the top scorers in the entire league. Not only that, but he has also won 28 face-offs for the team, and is a plus 4 on the year. Good stuff from the second year Flyer.
Hayes’ career high in points was 55 during the 2018-19 season, split between the New York Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets. If he scores at a point per game pace over the course of the season, he will surpass his career high. If the Flyers get this version of Kevin Hayes throughout the rest of his contract, that $50 million deal may end up looking like a bargain.
Sanheim is a Steamroller
All things considered, it was a pretty good week for Travis Sanheim. He might not have led the team in points or shots, but he stepped up in a big way in some other categories.
Sanheim scored his first goal of the season in Friday’s overtime loss, and he got an assist in the defeat at the hands of Buffalo on Tuesday. Despite this, he stood out for me for other reasons. Over the course of the four games, Sanheim played in 115 shifts, the second most on the team behind Ivan Provorov. Also, in the past three games, He has 3 blocks and has laid 8 hits on opposing teams. This past week, Sanheim has been a jack of all trades: he can score, he can block, and he can hit.
Sanheim may not put up the most points among Flyers defensemen this season, but he makes up for his lack of scoring by doing so much more on the ice. If he can keep blocking at this rate, Carter Hart may become his new best friend, and he will stop a ton of goals. He has been a force to be reckoned with, and he has just begun to enter the prime of his career at just 24 years old.
The Kid’s Alright
I couldn’t have talked about Flyers that impressed this week without mentioning Brian Elliott’s performance on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. After allowing 2 goals in relief of Carter Hart on Monday, Elliott rebounded to perfection the following night, stopping all 40 Sabres shots in an unreal performance.
These shots were coming from the likes of Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel, two of the league’s top scorers in the short season. One by one, if the shots were not blocked by his defense, Elliott would make sure they would not go between the pipes. It was the first Flyers shutout of the year, and if Elliott can keep up this level of pace over the course of the year, the Flyers tandem in net is going to be not just among the strongest in the Eastern Division, but the entire NHL.
Photo Credit on Featured Image to Drew Hallowell of Getty Images