BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 06: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers heads for the net as teammate Jaromir Jagr #68 skates by in the second period against the Boston Bruins on October 6, 2011 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Now that we've sufficiently pissed off just about everybody in the Philadelphia media for something that really has nothing to do with hockey, I guess we can try to fill the page with some actual hockey talk...
Including Saturday night's 5-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, and excluding the insanity that was Thursday's 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the last seven even strength goals scored by your Philadelphia Flyers have come from three men.
Seven goals! And yes, these three men are all on the same line. It's a unit that's completely pacing the Flyers offensively right now when at 5-on-5, and I can't decide whether or not that's a good thing. Giroux putting up four points in a night is a very, very good thing, especially when the Flyers win a game like they did against Carolina.
When that top line is on the ice, you just get that sense that something good could happen at any second. They're always exciting to watch. Maybe it's the fact that Jagr looks like he's 25 again or something, but that line is just absolutely deadly.
The others, meanwhile, are just dead.
There's nothing going on there in the offensive end. And this is not a good thing. Sure, maybe it's unfair to exclude that Winnipeg game from the total -- after all, James van Riemsdyk, Matt Read, Danny Briere and Max Talbot all got on the board at even strength in that one, and those are goals that count on the stat sheet. But I also get the feeling that I probably could've scored in that game.
If you've watched the games over the last week or so, you can't help but worry about this a bit -- especially considering the team has lost four of its last six. Maybe it's ridiculous to focus on a negative like this after the team is coming off of a win, but I can't help but consider it an issue. Maybe the biggest issue facing the team right now, outside of the absence of Chris Pronger.
It's beyond just line combos, and it's beyond just Danny Briere being out of the lineup. Yes, Briere has four goals on the season which is good for a tie for second on the team, but even with him in the lineup, the Flyers have looked less than sharp offensively when not graced by the on-ice presence of the top line. If you don't include the Winnipeg game, Briere has just two even strength points all year -- an assist vs. Vancouver and a goal vs. St. Louis.
Let's look at some other guys -- again, these observations all exclude the craziness of the Winnipeg game for what I think are pretty legit reasons.
- James van Riemsdyk has just two even-strength points on the season. One came against New Jersey in the second game of the season, and the other came against Vancouver in the third game of the season. Nothing since.
- Matt Read has been the best even strength player not named Jagr, Hartnell or Giroux, partially thanks to his four-point night, three at even strength, against Ottawa. Other than that though, he has just one point at even strength, and that came on his first NHL goal against New Jersey.
- Wayne Simmonds hasn't scored a point in four games, and that includes the Winnipeg game. He has four even strength points on the year but has seriously slowed lately.
- Jakub Voracek scored an even-strength point against the Jets. Before that? The Vancouver game.
These guys need to step up. I'm not sure how that happens. Maybe a shakeup of the lines, but that's already happened several times and it never does seem to help all that much. Maybe they just need to wait until Briere gets healthy again and then analyze things from there.
But something has to happen. It's nice watching Giroux, Jagr and Hartnell school the opposing defense night in and night out, but this team needs more than that to win games consistently. Lately, that's just not happening, but luckily there's a lot of season left to figure it out.