ANAHEIM, Calif. - Here are some observations as the Flyers get ready to resume their schedule in Anaheim on Sunday night, hoping the five-day layoff doesn't stop their momentum:
The Flyers should consider dealing goalie Michal Neuvirth if the right offer comes their way.
No, I didn't drink too much eggnog spiked with limoncello over the holidays, and, yes, I can understand if that's your knee-jerk reaction to my suggestion.
Why would you consider trading a guy who has the league's best save percentage (.937)?
Hear me out.
Neuvirth's trade value has never been higher. If the Flyers can get a high draft pick, a backup goalie, and get someone to take Vinny Lecavalier's albatross of a contract off their hands, this deal would make sense.
The Canadiens are 2-7-1 since star goalie Carey Price was sidelined with his second injury of the season. Neuvirth would give the Habs a great insurance policy. As a bonus, he plays like a No. 1 goalie and he is paid like a backup - $1.625 million per year, ending after next season.
Yes, it's nice for the Flyers to have a solid goalie duo of Steve Mason and Neuvirth, but if they can get rid of Lecavalier's contract (with an annual $4.5 million cap hit that ends after the 2017-18 season) and get a draft pick, the future will look a lot brighter.
If general manager Ron Hextall does not find a way to keep rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on the team, he will lose a huge chunk of the team's fans.
The Flyers need to make a roster move when Mark Streit comes off the long-term injured list. Streit is expected to return Wednesday in San Jose. If he does, the Flyers need to clear about $855,000 in cap space to make room for Gostisbehere.
From here, it seems like a no-brainer to expose one of their veterans to waivers - whether it be R.J. Umberger, Nick Schultz, or whomever - to clear cap room and send one of them to the Phantoms.
Gostisbehere has not only made the Flyers fun to watch again, he has energized the team with his swift skating and flashy offensive skills.
The Florida native has six goals and 14 points in 18 games. Prorated over 82 games, that's a 27-goal, 64-point pace.
Gostisbehere's defense is a work in progress, but not as bad as some say. He makes up for his smallish stature with his speed and a quick stick, and his plus-5 rating is the best on the team.
Realistically, the Flyers are far from a Stanley Cup contender, but Gostisbehere has made them better, and he is gaining valuable experience that will help make him that much better next year, when defensive prospects Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Sam Morin will be given a shot to make the team.
In the not-too-distant future, the young guns on the blue line figure to form the Flyers' identity. And if Gostisbehere's transition to the NHL is any indication, that defense is going to be dynamic.
The fact that the Flyers are in the thick of the playoff race is a tribute to their strong play the last month. It also is a product of the league's parity.
The Flyers are next-to-last in the NHL in goals per game and in the bottom half of the league in goals allowed. Their power play has struggled, and their penalty kill has been mediocre.
And yet, their 8-2-2 run has put them in the playoff hunt despite having more losses (19) than wins (15).
In other words, mediocrity rules in the NHL.
Who is the goofball who designed the NHL's schedule?
The Flyers don't face their archrivals, the Penguins, until Jan. 22 - nearly four months into the season. And they don't host Sidney Crosby and friends until March 19 - with three weeks left in the season.
Dumb and dumber.
And on their current trip, the Flyers go from Anaheim in Southern California to San Jose in the northern part of the state, and then back to Southern California to face Los Angeles.
If any of this makes sense, raise your hand.
Didn't think so.