The Philadelphia Flyers have gone from the NHL’s basement to one of the league’s hottest teams in a matter of a few weeks. After starting November out in an embarrassing fashion, the team seemingly hit rock bottom on November 7 when they dropped a 3-0 loss to the (at that point) lame duck New Jersey Devils.
Since that contest, the Flyers have taken at least a point in seven consecutive games and have clawed to sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. Overall, the team has improved its level of play drastically. Claude Giroux seems to have found his way after struggling through the first 15 contests and Scott Hartnell is back to banging bodies and playing some dynamic hockey.
Over the last few weeks though, the catalyst for Philadelphia’s resurgence has been the third line. Since taking over the head coaching position just a couple of games into the 2013-14 NHL season, Craig Berube has been trying out every conceivable line combination while looking for consistency and chemistry.
He seems to be onto something with the combo of Sean Couturier, Steve Downie and Matt Read. The line makes sense when you look at it, and they’ve been nearly impossible to stop over the last three contests. Since last Tuesday, the trio has produced five goals and 13 points.
If your top line is scoring at that rate, then your team will be very difficult to stop. When it’s the third line though, it provides an incredible level of scoring depth that is hard for other squads to match up against. It isn’t like the line is just getting puck luck either.
They are playing a hard-working brand of hockey and aren’t losing many 50/50 puck battles right now. If they can continue to play at this level, then the Flyers will be back in the thick of the playoff race in no time. They still have some ground to make up, but the squad has been outstanding over the last handful of games.