Keeping Pace: Several Flyers headed for career years

Updated: December 12, 2017 at 12:09 am by Matt Brauckmann

The Flyers have made a name for themselves this season by being the face of inconsistency in the NHL. The team won 10 straight games last season only to fall flat in the second half and miss the playoffs. This season, they came out firing on all offensive cylinders, then went flat and lost 10 straight. Now here we are post-losing streak and the team has quickly strung together three wins.

Despite this season’s early woes, several Flyers players are on pace for seasons unmatched by any Flyer player in the last several years.

Sean Couturier

Coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooots!

One of the positives to come out of Dave Hakstol’s roster decisions was the move of Sean Couturier to first-line center.

Couturier was a topic of contention among many fans of the past few seasons. Several people saw what they thought was a stifled offensive output with a defensive upside that was easily replaceable. Others saw a player that had Selke written all over him, but was always paired with sub-par players (i.e. Matt Read and RJ Umberger).

The latter of those two viewpoints has now proven to be correct.

Couturier has done nothing but thrive this season and is having a career year. Through the first third of the season, Coots has 14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points, and has taken 88 shots (second to only Voracek). That puts Couturier on pace for a stat line of 40 goals, 40 assists, and 80 points. To put that into perspective, Couturier’s career high for points in season was 39 in 2013-14 and his career high for goals was 15 in 2014-15.

The Flyers have only had two guys reach the 40-goal mark since the year 2000. Jeff Carter was the last to do it in 2008-09 (46) and Simon Gagne did it in 2005-06 (47) and 2006-07 (41). Neither of those players even came close to having as much of a defensive upside as Couturier. If he continues down this road for the rest of this season, the Flyers could very well have their first Selke winner in 30 years.

Jake Voracek

Jake Voracek is honestly one of the guys that has flown under my radar the entire season. When I got the NHL alert on my phone last night about Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal, I almost had to do a double take at the assist number next to his name. That’s because after last night’s valiant effort, he now leads the NHL in assists with 30.

Despite some people knocking him for his defensive game, Voracek is still a plus-five on the season and has been an offensive monster after regressing a bit last season. Through 29 games this season, Voracek sits at seven goals, 30 assists, and 37 points. That actually puts him right on par with where he was at this point in 2014-15 when he netted a career-high 81 points. It’s important to remember that he really struggled at the end of that year, and I can’t see that happening again.

At his current scoring clip, he is on pace for 20 goals, 85 assists, and 105 points. You read that right. That would be the second most assists in a single season by any NHL player since 2000 with only Joe Thornton having more in 2005-06 (96) and 2006-07 (92).

Team wise, that could net Voracek some history as well. If he did get over the 100-point hump, he’d be the first Flyer since Eric Lindros in 1995-96 (115) to do so and only the sixth Flyer in history to eclipse 100.

Claude Giroux

Where would this team be without the captain?

Despite up-and-down years, Giroux has remained a constant staple at the top of the point sheet for the Flyers. He leads them in points almost every year. With Voracek on an offensive tear this year, that may not happen, but the captain is still having a career year.

What really sticks out is the goal scoring. Giroux has never struck me as a goal-scorer, he’s always stood out for his playmaking ability. The playmaking is still abundant, but he’s firing rockets from the top of the circles a la 2012.

Giroux already has 12 goals, 20 assists, and 32 points in 29 games this season. That puts him on pace for 34 goals, 57 assists, and 91 points. The closest he has come to 30 goals was 28 in 2011-12 and 2013-14 and the 91 points would be second only to his 93-point campaign in 2011-12. Given the fact that he usually ramps up the production down the stretch, it’s entirely possible to think he could also come close to 100 points.

Miscellaneous Observations

Despite some defensive miscues, Shayne Gostisbehere has played well this season. Ghost is on pace for another historic year for the Orange and Black. He finds himself on pace for 67 points this season. No Flyer defenseman has done that since Garry Galley in 1993-94. Gostisbehere would be the third defenseman in Flyers history to break 65 points if he did it.

Robert Hagg leads all NHL rookie defensemen in plus-minus (plus-12) and is third among them in time on ice per game 19:19). There aren’t any career numbers here since this is his first season, but he’s shaping up to be a great stay-at-home defenseman.

Brian Elliott is on pace to start 59 games this season, which would be a new career high. He’s played well this season and kept the Flyers in several games despite them being wildly outshot.

Despite the Flyers being shut out six times this season, these guys are on pace for career years. If the Flyers as a team improve, it’s entirely possible to think that the Flyers could end up with three guys (Giroux, Couturier, Voracek) who average over a point-per-game. That hasn’t happened since 1995-96 with Brind’Amour, LeClair, and Lindros.

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