The Philadelphia Flyers entered the toughest part of their schedule this past week, and so far they have played at a very high level.
Behind the efforts of some of their top players, the Flyers have fought their way to four straight victories against some of the NHL’s top teams.
Last weekend they defeated the Metropolitan Division leading archrival Pittsburgh Penguins twice, the defending Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars who are fighting for a playoff position out west.
At this point of the season, every game is a must win. Getting eight points in four games against the teams that the Flyers did was a monumental start.
Philadelphia now sits at 81 points on the season, making them the second team to reach the 80-point mark in the Metropolitan. Currently sitting in second place, they have a three-point lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, who are tied for third.
The Flyers were able to accomplish the daunting task of beating three top teams on the backs of strong play from their stars.
Claude Giroux tallied seven points in those four games and played hero against the Blackhawks, earning him the nickname Captain Clutch.
Giroux assisted on six goals and scored one of his own. Although the six assists are impressive themselves, they are completely overshadowed by his late goal against Chicago.
With less then 10 seconds remaining in overtime, Giroux took the puck up the wall and fired it on net. The rocket of a shot cleared Chicago goalie Antti Raanta’s right shoulder and found net in the top corner to give Philadelphia the OT win.
Winger Wayne Simmonds is also continuing his hot play and making a strong case for one of the NHL’s top power forwards.
Simmonds tallied six points over the last four games, including four goals and two assists. His goals came from two multiple goal games against Pittsburgh and Dallas, his fourth and fifth multiple goal games this season.
Simmonds has made scoring garbage goals into an art form. A majority of his goals have come this way and helped him to a career high in points, and a spot as the teams second leading point and goal scorer.
Steve Mason also helped Philadelphia to three of their four wins this past week (Ray Emery got the start against Chicago).
In his three outings he boasted a save percentage of .940, including one shutout against Pittsburgh. He continues to be a breath of fresh air in the Flyers net, which is an unfamiliar feeling to fans, but certainly one they’ll welcome.
Their tough stretch isn’t over yet though. They have the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings at home, followed by an away game against the Rangers.
Of the three games, the one against New York is the most important because of its impact on the standings.
The three-point lead helps give the Flyers a little wiggle room. Now they can play their game and not worry that they’ll immediately drop out of a playoff spot with a loss.