Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with 37 points, including 11 goals, through 41 games this season. (Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com)
Through 41 games, the Philadelphia Flyers hold a 20-17-4 record. For a team that started the season at 1-7-0, the Flyers have certainly come a long way.
The road will only get tougher as the season progresses, but through 41 games, there have been highs and lows, performances of redemption and performances that made you shake your head.
With that, here are grades for all of the Flyers through 41 games this season.
Claude Giroux: (A-) – The captain was hampered by hand surgery very close to training camp. If not for that, the start of his season may have been as good as his recent hot streak. Giroux always has the ability to be a game-changer and is definitely a natural leader. His near point-per-game production to this point of the season shows his progression from a slow start and a lot of adversity amidst the team’s early struggles.
Steve Mason: (A-) – Aside from a small down period in early December, Mason has been the best Flyer out there. Many of the Flyers first wins of the season would not be without him. With every start, he looks more like a regular goalie.
Jake Voracek: (B+) – Another Flyer who overcame a slow start, Voracek has been another of the Flyers most important players. As a part of the top line, Voracek does more than just bring scoring to the team. His passing and speed are both weapons that have proven his place of importance with the team.
Vincent Lecavalier: (B) – Paul Holmgren’s splash of the offseason has been solid so far. He was the leading scorer in the early going and for a while the catalyst to success. When Lecavalier missed time with an injury, the team struggled. With the rest of the team getting back to form, Lecavalier’s role has diminished slightly. But he’s still a leader and his awareness and intangibles are more valuable that the numbers. What brings the grade down is his minus-10 rating.
Wayne Simmonds: (B) – Simmonds has really turned it on lately, showing his value to the team. There is no better grinder on the team, the player who gets into the dirty areas and makes things happen. He also leads the team with 13 goals. However, the minus-5 rating to this point in the season is a problem area.
Brayden Schenn: (B) – The younger of the Schenn brothers started the season off incredibly strong. Since, he has come back to Earth. But don’t take away from his scoring ability. Schenn is another of the Flyers who can find his way in the crease battling for rebounds and loose pucks. At just 22, he’s a solid player on the rise.
Nicklas Grossmann: (B-) – The Flyers best defenseman to this point in the season. Grossmann provides size and strength to the Flyers blue line while serving as the calm coordinator of the defense. By definition of defenseman, easily the best when it comes to blocking shots and puck control in defensive end.
Kimmo Timonen: (B-) – The wily veteran defenseman still proves to be effective. He has a few defensive lapses at times, but his presence is ultimately felt in special teams situations. His plus-3 rating and 10 assists – second highest among defenseman – make his valuable to the offense.
Steve Downie: (B-) – When the Flyers made this move on Halloween it was certainly questionable. But Downie is not the same player the Flyers drafted way back when. His discipline may be what is most important to his game. He still takes penalties but knows how to bring a physical edge to the team. In his brief time reunited with the Flyers, he has helped more than hurt.
Matt Read: (B-) – Read struggled early as well but eventually turned into the Flyers go-to guy on offense. He was the first to reach 10 goals and has always been good in the offensive zone. His defense is what is in question and his minus-7 rating is especially alarming.
Sean Couturier: (C+) – The Flyers first-round pick in 2011 continues to grow. Physically, he may have improved the most of any player. His strength has allowed him to be one of the better players for the Flyers in the trenches and board battles. Where Couturier struggles is still fundamental. He takes bad penalties. He still fails to finish on good scoring chances. That will come with experience, but for now, it hurts the team’s performance.
Scott Hartnell: (C+) – Again, if not for a recent hot streak, the grade will be lower. For some time, Hartnell looked like the odd-man out, the most disposable piece of the team. His recent point streak showed that he does still bring offense to the team even if the other parts of his game are in question.
Erik Gustafsson: (C+) – He is a rising defense that brings speed and good puck movement up ice. Offensively he has positives and there’s still a lot of growth to be done defensively. Still, the potential is there.
Michael Raffl: (C+) – In the beginning, a lot of people were asking “why is he here?” Now we have an idea. Raffl’s presence on the top line has created a recent points surge and some facets of his game show great upside. As a rookie, still a lot of growing to do, but as a linemate with Giroux and Voracek, he certainly isn’t a fringe player.
Mark Streit: (C) – Offensively, you can see the dividends paying off. He’s added scoring to the Flyers blue line and leads all defensemen in assists. He is a great quarterback on special teams. But defensively, Streit is more than a liability. He lacks confidence in his own zone. His decision-making is questionable. And he isn’t the best at puck control.
Adam Hall: (C) – A role player that fits well in his role. As a face-off man, one of the best the Flyers have. He fits well on the fourth-line and does his job adequately. Also a strong part of the penalty kill.
Ray Emery: (C-) – Instead of competing for the starting job like some expected, Emery has slipped into the role of backup. At times, he has been brilliant in net. At others, a total mystery, especially when he joined a line brawl by fighting Braden Holtby.
Braydon Coburn: (C-) – Coburn is one of the better scoring defensemen on the team – four goals is second-highest for defensemen – but his defense continues to suffer. Way too many turnovers and missed coverages lead to goals for the opposition.
Zac Rinaldo: (D+) – He’s still a cannonball ready to strike at any time, making him a constant target for penalties. That being said, he continues to harness it more. However, he has lost the uncanny ability he had a year ago to draw penalties. Rinaldo has but one role and that’s to get under the skin of the opponent. He still does that well, but still gets the team in trouble too much.
Jay Rosehill: (D) – Not much can be said about Rosehill. He’s slow and rather ineffective on offense, which is why he’s served as a healthy scratch unless absolutely needed.
Andrej Meszaros: (D) – Again another liability that plays only when absolutely necessary. His point presence on offense is good and does lead to goals but his ability to cover players of the opponents’ offense is weak. Not playing much due to injuries in recent years has hurt his game a great deal.
Luke Schenn: (D) – His point production is down and his minus-6 rating is a result of poor defensive play. Sometimes it feels like the only reason he starts is to add physical presence. At times, he has his moments and his good games but he’s been more noticeable this season, and not in a good way.
Craig Berube: (B) – To bring the Flyers back from 1-7-0 to playoff contention is a huge accomplishment. At times, the team has not looked ready to play and very lackadaisical. But that is few and far between anymore. The Flyers have revitalized under Berube. The grade for now is a B, but a playoff appearance and a potential playoff run will just make Berube more valuable to the team’s turnaround.
Paul Holmgren: (B-) – Homer’s offseason didn’t look great at first. With the team’s early struggles, it seemed questionable that they improved. But it’s safe to say the Lecavalier was a good signing for the team and players like Raffl and the trade for Steve Downie are reasons the Flyers have improved. Factor in his acquisition of Mason late last season and you can see the construction of a potential playoff team. There is still more that could be done to put them over the top, but all-in-all, Holmgren has played a role in getting the Flyers out of a hole early in the season.
Not Applicable: Max Talbot, Tye McGinn, Chris VandeVelde, Kris Newbury, Hal Gill, Peter Laviolette