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Robert Hägg wearing the Nature Boy robe, via NBC

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Flyer of the Week Rankings: Week 2

This week was absolute peak Flyers, to say the least. The last four games have seen the Flyers score 2, 7, 0 and 6.

In this edition of the weekly rankings, only two games come into play: the 1-0 loss at home to Vegas, and the 6-5 shootout win against the Florida Panthers.

#1 Flyer: Wayne Simmonds

The Train has two multi-goal games this year and he leads the team with five total goals. He’s been putting biscuits in the basket for sure, getting the Flyers on the board in the second period against Florida to tie it after an abysmal first period. It was another close-quarters redirect of a great pass by Travis Sanheim, who won’t be ranked this week but he would be an honorable mention.

https://twitter.com/davegisaac/status/1045009933958303746?s=21

The only logical explanation here is that Simmonds is harnessing Gritty’s power. He’s off to a great start in his contract season, and this week he added two goals for two points.

#2 Flyer: Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux is winning faceoffs at a near 60-percent rate. He’s always been one of the best at the position. Giroux scored twice at home against Florida, once pouncing on a terrible turnover, making the Panther defense pay for mistakes. He was absolutely robbed by Marc-Andre Fleury more than once in the 1-0 loss Saturday and had a third goal stolen by the glove of Michael Hutchinson.

Giroux plays 20 minutes a night on average, only behind Sean Couturier (22:17!) for leader among forwards. He’s sitting at three goals and five assists for eight points (3-5–8). Mistakes are being capitalized on, and winning draws alone create offensive zone time as well as taking control defensively.

#3 Flyer: Jordan Weal

A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Weal saw his ice time increase by almost seven minutes from Saturday’s loss and made a huge impact. He scored, assisted and tucked the shootout winner for a two point night.

In fact, here’s a two minute video of the good things he did in the win:

https://twitter.com/eriksensationai/status/1052642633762390016?s=21

Hakstol has him up in the lineup due to injuries, as well as Laughton. The 26 year old forward now has two points in his three games played.

#4 Flyer: Robert Hägg

This is exactly the defenseman we expected to be praising his offense, right?

Hägg is a shooting machine, adding four against Vegas and two in the Florida win. He’s no Gostisbehere, but for now they’re tied in points with four each. Hägg leads Flyer defensemen in goals with two and that’s good for a sixth place tie among all NHL defensemen.

https://twitter.com/barstooljordie/status/1052352563956330497?s=21

There are a couple Swedish defensemen that have him beat for sure, but four points in six games speaks for itself. Hägg played 19:04 on average this week, after seeing  15 to 18 minutes the first four games. He’s gaining trust and taking his chances offensively.

#5 Flyer: Jake Voracek

The Czech scored exactly zero points this week, and is still on the list. He’s near impossible to push off the puck, for any defenseman, and the strength has been on display in full force. If Jake wants, he takes, and he drives offense now back with the top line. Voracek was held off the stat sheet for both games, but has looked like the best player on the ice at times.

Many, many recent mentions of Jake Voracek on Twitter bring up endless pages of his apparently frustrating Chia Pet.

He was a team leader in shots in the 6-5 shootout win, scoring a goal in the shootout as well. Even without scoring points in a week with the shutout loss in Las Vegas, Voracek is tied with Giroux for the team lead with eight points (2-6–8) and leads all Flyers in assists.

Philadelphia Flyers points race:

1) Claude Giroux (3-5–8)

T-1) Jakub Voracek (2-6–8)

3) Wayne Simmonds (5-1–6)

4) Radko Gudas (0-5–5)

5) Scott Laughton (2-2–4)

T-5) Robert Hägg (2-2–4)

T-5) Shayne Gostisbehere (1-3–4)

Play of the Week:

With Florida attempting a breakout, Shayne Gostisbehere makes a lunging poke check, gets up with control, and races across the blue line. He makes a move on a Panther, carries to the slot and feeds a perfect saucer to Claude Giroux who one-times the puck over the shoulder of Hutchinson.

What needs to improve:

After defending Elliott due to the horrific defense last week, it’s time to admit at least a couple of goals to Florida were a little weak. Notably, Frank Vatrano’s first goal. It’s impossible to blame Calvin Pickard for not stopping Sasha Barkov (one of, if not the best shootout artists in the world) on a breakaway chance. He would score later in the shootout again with his patented backhand roof. However, Elliott allowed just one goal to a Las Vegas team. He was just out-goaltended that day.

Ivan Provorov’s advanced statistics put him at “replacement level defenseman”. The only thing to do about it is hope he regains his form. Did that shoulder injury come back?

It’s difficult to use percentages with such a small sample size (six games) but the penalty kill is back at 25th in the NHL. New year, same story thus far, though the forwards look good when they do gain control shorthanded.

The Flyers, as a collective, allow 4.17 goals per game. That mark is good for 29th most in the entire NHL. Not much else needs to be said. It’s tough to win having to score touchdowns in hockey games, but for two of the three wins, they’ve done just that. Even the third win saw five Flyer goals.

What needs to continue:

Scoring is pretty decent, at a 3.5 goal per game pace good for 12th in the NHL. This has been without Nolan Patrick and James van Riemsdyk. The anomaly came strictly due to a hot Marc-Andre Fleury, who made pucks look like beach balls. It felt like a rather unlucky night.

Speaking of unlucky, Travis Konecny hasn’t scored yet. He’s ringing posts left and right it seems, and as long as he’s involved in high danger opportunities, the goals have to come someday. He’s been actual inches away from being a leading scorer on the team. Just keep at it.

Secondary players are producing— Gudas is a top five scorer so far— and it’s what’s fueling the high scoring games. Laughton, Weal and Raffl have been good to great so far. Lehterä wins 55-percent of his draws and has actually looked like an NHL center this season. Robert Hägg is the offensive Swede you need (sorry Oskar) and the big guys on the top line are cooking as usual. It makes for some entertaining hockey.

Tonight, the new week begins. The Flyers take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, and Nolan Patrick nears his return hopefully this week.

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