GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Flyers reached the halfway point of the season with a 5-4 loss Thursday in Vegas. They are 13 points better than at a corresponding point last season, but they still need a few more pieces to be considered Stanley Cup contenders.
Here are their midterm grades for the first 41 games.
Despite a slew of injuries and Oskar Lindblom’s cancer diagnosis, the Flyers enter the weekend in a wild-card spot (barely) with a 22-14-5 record for 49 points and a .598 points percentage, placing them 11th in the 31-team NHL.
At the Wells Fargo Center, they get an A-plus because of their 13-2-4 record and league-best .789 points percentage. But they are dragged down by their road struggles (.432 points percentage, 24th in NHL).
The Flyers’ power play (13th in NHL) and penalty kill have struggled recently. In about a week, the PK has fallen from No. 3 to 14.
They have made strides on defense from last year (3.41 goals-against per game, 29th in NHL) and are ninth in the league, allowing 2.88 goals per game despite surrendering four goals in each of their last two first periods entering Saturday. Offensively, they have averaged 3.1 goals, a slight improvement from last season and 14th in the league.
Travis Konecny: A.
He has been the Flyers’ most consistent player and their top forward. His defense has improved, too. He is on pace for 24 goals and 72 points, which would shatter his career high of 49 points.
Oskar Lindblom: A.
Before the diagnosis of a rare form of bone cancer, Lindblom was leading the Flyers with 11 goals and having a breakout season. At the time, he was on pace for 30 goals and was the team’s second-best defensive forward.
Sean Couturier: B-plus.
He’s on pace for 24 goals and 66 points, a slight dip from his last two seasons. He has excelled in the faceoff circle (fourth in NHL at 59.1%) and has been the Flyers’ best two-way player.
Kevin Hayes: B.
He is on pace for 24 goals, which would be one shy of his career high, and has helped improve the Flyers’ usually weak penalty kill. That said, he needs more consistency in his game.
Claude Giroux: B.
His production (30 points, on pace for 60) has dropped from the last two years (102 points in 2017-18, 85 points last season) but he has still been a solid performer. He paces the Flyers with 13 goals and leads the league in faceoff percentage (61.3%).
Jake Voracek: B.
Voracek has arguably been the Flyers’ best forward during the last two weeks, but he went through an up-and-down stretch earlier in the season. His playmaking has been off-the-charts recently, and his defense, rocky in the past, has improved. He is on pace for 16 goals and 66 points.
Scott Laughton: B-minus.
Two injuries have sidelined him for a total of 20 games, but Laughton, who has played with an edge, still might set career highs in goals and points. He has five goals and 10 points in 21 games.
James van Riemsdyk: C-plus.
He’s on pace for 24 goals, but he has been extremely inconsistent. The Flyers especially need him to be more productive on the power play, where he has just two goals.
Tyler Pitlick: C.
Though far from flashy, he has given the Flyers productive minutes in the bottom six and filled in when needed on the penalty kill.
Joel Farabee: C-minus.
The 19-year-old rookie (three goals in 32 games) has shown glimpses of his offensive talent and has displayed some surprising grit. He has been in a massive slump since early November, scoring just one goal in his last 24 games.
Michael Raffl: C-minus.
The versatile Raffl has been strong on the penalty kill and has played primarily on the third and fourth lines. He is goalless in his last 22 games.
Misha Vorobyev: C-minus.
He hasn’t scored much (one goal in 18 games) and has been so-so as a fourth-line center, but his game is still developing. If Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) gets healthy and returns, Vorobyev will probably be sent to the Phantoms and the Flyers will be much stronger with Laughton as their fourth-line center.
Nic Aube-Kubel: Incomplete.
He has played just eight games but has given a strong account. Aube-Kubel has played with an edge and has contributed three points.
Chris Stewart: Incomplete.
A good locker-room presence, Stewart has supplied some toughness on the ice but is minus-7 in just 15 games.
Andy Andreoff: Incomplete.
He has played in just 12 games and hasn’t been able to get into a flow because he’s been in and out of the lineup.
Ivan Provorov: A.
Without the weight of a new contract hanging over him, Provorov has returned to his form from two years ago and is on pace for 18 goals, 48 points, and a plus-10 rating. Provorov has scored a team-high six of his nine goals on the power play.
Matt Niskanen: B-plus.
Niskanen, acquired for Radko Gudas, has stabilized the defense and the penalty kill, and he has helped elevate the game of Provorov, his defensive partner.
Phil Myers: B-plus.
His game is still evolving, but Myers has had a strong rookie season despite playing just 23 games. He leads the Flyers with a plus-17 rating and has chipped in with 11 points.
Robert Hagg: C-plus.
He is what he is: a dependable, stay-at-home defender who blocks a lot of shots and provides some much-needed physicality. Considering he has been yanked in and out of the lineup, he’s done a good job of staying sharp.
Travis Sanheim: C.
The player they call “Sanny” has been up and down and is on pace for eight goals, 24 points, and a plus-4 rating. He got better in the second half last season, and the Flyers hope he repeats that.
Shayne Gostisbehere: C-minus.
He went through a poor stretch but has elevated his play after a three-game benching. He is on pace for 10 goals and 22 points, a far cry from his personal bests (17 goals, 65 points).
Justin Braun: C-minus.
After an awful start to the season, he’s been better the last month or so but still has a team-worst minus-11 rating.
Carter Hart: B.
Hart, 21, gets an A-plus for his home play (11-1-2, 1.49 GAA, .947 save percentage), but he has struggled mightily on the road (2-8-1, 3.84, .855). He needs to be much better on the road if the Flyers are going to be a factor in the playoffs — if they get there. Overall, he is 13-9-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Brian Elliott: C-plus.
Elliott (3.06 GAA, .901 save percentage) has been mostly dependable, and his numbers look inflated because of a few poor games.
Alain Vigneault: B-plus.
Compared with recent seasons, the new Flyers coach has generally gotten the team to start much better and to play a full 60 minutes (or beyond) in most games, though not so much on the current road trip. He has also held players accountable and has not been afraid to bench or demote players, regardless of their salaries.
On the flip side, he could have used his timeouts better to stem opponents’ momentum, and some of his Myers benchings have been puzzling.