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?
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.
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.