Who's odd man out when Wayne Simmonds returns?

Who's odd man out when Wayne Simmonds returns?

Going End to End today is NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What should the Flyers do when Wayne Simmonds returns?

Dougherty
This question really is, who comes out of the lineup when Simmonds comes back? Since the NHL roster limit is, well, no longer a limit, the Flyers can carry extra forwards.

That doesn’t mean Ron Hextall will not send a promising 21-year-old back to Lehigh Valley. Oskar Lindblom, because of a paper transaction, is eligible for the AHL playoffs.

Lindblom is the wild card here. Has he shown enough to stick with the Flyers? I think he has despite all of his positives (there are plenty) not showing up on the score sheet.

But, I thought the same thing after the preseason. The reality is, Lindblom hasn’t produced points. If the offense showed up more in the preseason, he probably would have stayed.

I’m afraid that is going to bite him again this time around. It shouldn’t, though.

When Simmonds returns, Lindblom should stick around. Think of it this way, Simmonds, or Lindblom, is the Flyers’ trade deadline acquisition. So someone draws out.

Thursday, Jordan Weal was in the press box. He hasn’t produced and has been given ample opportunity. Taylor Leier was back in. That spot is the one we’re looking at.

Sure, Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera could take turns going in and out too.

We should ask whether Lindblom is an upgrade over Weal, Leier, Lehtera and Weise.

Yes, he is. Which means Lindblom’s (probably) going back to the AHL.

Hall
With the way the Flyers had been playing, you almost forgot about Simmonds.

But of course, that would be silly. When Simmonds is doing what he does best, the Flyers are at another level. In fact, they're 16-1-1 when he scores a goal.

So who comes out when he comes back?

I'd like to see it be Weise. He's been scratched before and simply doesn't bring a whole lot to the table.

Simmonds returns to the second unit, while Lindblom slides to the third line but still plays a role. However, it would not surprise me if Lindblom heads back to the AHL for further development while the Flyers trust the guys that have been here.

Since Weal hasn't produced, he must now show he can understand the responsibilities of a bottom-six spot, specifically as a fourth-liner. If he can do that, he'll bring a nice scoring element alongside complementary players.

How's a third line of Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl sound? And a fourth line of Lehtera, Valtteri Filppula and Weal?

Ultimately, though, it very well could end up being Lindblom sent down and Weal or Leier as the scratch when Simmonds is back in action.

Were the Flyers snubbed for All-Star Game?

ap-sean-couturier-jakub-voracek.jpg
AP Images

Were the Flyers snubbed for All-Star Game?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Were the Flyers snubbed for the All-Star Game?

Dougherty
It's easy to find a gripe here since the Flyers had three viable candidates, but Claude Giroux will be the Flyers' lone All-Star representative at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game (see story).

Giroux makes his fifth All-Star Game and his 52 points are second in the league. That's fine and dandy, and since the Metropolitan Division is loaded, this was inevitable.

Sean Couturier's breakout season wasn't enough to earn him his first All-Star appearance, and it's a shame. It probably won't be the only honor he'll get snubbed from this season, either. The politics of NHL award voting are corrupt.

Couturier has 23 goals, which is fourth in the NHL and a career high. He has 42 points, which is also a career high. We could argue Couturier is behind Giroux's resurgence too.

All three deserve to be All-Stars, but that's not how it works. Only one Flyer made it when two probably should. Giroux's back to producing at a high-end level, but if there was going to be only one Flyers representative, I would have liked for it to have been Couturier.

Hall
This shouldn't come as a terrible surprise.

The selection of the All-Star rosters is a reputation-driven process. Outside of the fan-voted captains, the players are picked by the NHL hockey operations staff.

So when it came down to the most-deserving Flyers, Giroux likely jumped out. He's a face of the NHL, the name certainly has cachet and the captain is thriving in a rebound season featuring 52 points, tied for second in the NHL.

While Couturier's breakout season is duly noted in the Delaware Valley, it might not shine as brightly among the league and star-studded division. If Couturier continues to replicate his numbers down the line, then he'll become an All-Star at some point.

If anyone was truly snubbed, it's Jakub Voracek. The guy leads all of hockey in assists (43) and is tied for third in points (51). But not every team gets multiple representatives and Giroux, the trademark Flyer, was more than worthy.

Which streak was Flyers' true colors?

Which streak was Flyers' true colors?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Which streak was more representative of the Flyers?

Dougherty
If there is anything we've learned over the past eight weeks, it's that the Flyers are not as bad as their 10-game losing streak nor as good as their six-game winning streak that followed.

There were times during the 10-game skid they were victims of bad bounces, but there were also a few clunkers in there. The Vancouver, San Jose and Boston losses were some of the worst efforts this team has had under Dave Hakstol.

Then there were times during the season-high six-game winning streak that fell one win shy of tying an odd NHL record for most wins following a 10-game losing streak the Flyers probably should have lost. The Buffalo and Dallas wins come to mind.

What that tells us is, the Flyers are a streaky team not quite ready for prime time, but not quite bad enough to deserve low fan turnout. The Flyers, while in a bigger rebuild than imagined, are again a fringe playoff team — like the past two seasons.

Brian Elliott has been stellar in his first season as a Flyer, and Hakstol has relied on him heavily because of (surprise) an injury to Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth could return as early as Thursday in Florida.

Elliott has started the Flyers' past 11 games and has a .933 save percentage over that span. Even during the 10-game losing streak, the losses could not have been pinned on the goaltending.

With Elliott, the Flyers have a chance to win each night. That's all you can ask for from a goaltender when you don't have a goalie such as Sergei Bobrovsky.

There have been enough encouraging signs over the past three weeks that suggests this Flyers team could squeak into the playoffs this April, with secondary scoring atop the list.

Sean Couturier has proven to be a legitimate top-line center, with a career-high 16 goals already. Claude Giroux is back to producing at an elite level. Jake Voracek is back.

Nolan Patrick, while not contributing as one would like, has trended upward over the past three games. He even centered the team's second line with Voracek and Michael Raffl on his wings in the Flyers' last game before the holiday break.

Travis Konecny has found his way into the top six. Will that continue after the Christmas break? We'll see, but he was buzzing with Couturier and Giroux in Columbus.

The defense is young with two rookies. Robert Hagg has been steady and plays far beyond his rookie label, while Travis Sanheim is progressing, though patchy at times. Ivan Provorov has had a bumpy last few games, but he's proven stellar in his second NHL season. He's a rock. Shayne Gostisbehere is back to producing offensively, which has covered up some of his deficiencies. It's been a solid start for "Ghost."

There will be some more bumps along the road as the Flyers close out the season, and when evaluating this team, it's safe to say the Flyers are somewhere in between the team that lost 10 straight and then won six straight.

They sit four points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot as of today. As the schedule ramps up and the games begin to matter more, the Flyers are in a position to strike.

It was hard to see a month ago, but the postseason is still within grasp.

Hall
Obviously, the Flyers didn't play well during their 10-game losing streak.

But they weren't downright awful, either.

Half of the defeats came after regulation (when anything can happen and the previous 60 minutes are thrown out the window), while the Flyers also outshot the opposition in five of those contests.

“If we were playing poorly, I’d be the first to say, ‘We’re playing poorly.’ I would be," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said following the ninth straight defeat on Nov. 28. "We are not playing poorly and to look objectively at our team right now and to say we’re playing poorly, no.

“As a manager, I have to be realistic with how our team is playing. I think right now, as a whole, I think we’ve played better than our record.”

There's a reason they won six straight directly after the 10-game skid. It wasn't strictly a coincidence or a flip of the switch. The Flyers, in fact, weren't far off, maybe just a play or two away from wins during that stretch.

The last time the Flyers lost 10 consecutive games (Feb. 6-23, 2008), they went to the Eastern Conference Finals the same season, which goes to show you streaks in hockey aren't always indicative of the play on the ice or the fate of a team.

Are the Flyers where they want to be? No, but we saw more potential in the six-game winning streak than reality in the 10-game losing streak.

A little bit of time and growth should further prove that, too.