What should Flyers fans be thankful for on Thanksgiving?

What should Flyers fans be thankful for on Thanksgiving?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What should Flyers fans be thankful for on Thanksgiving? 

Emmer

Sean Couturier. He’s been a reliable player that makes good plays with and without the puck and he’s someone the Flyers are thankful for, especially in the month of November. 

An upper-body injury limited Couturier in the faceoff dot early in the month, but he still produced in other ways. Coots’ 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in November lead the team.

Not only is his production something, but also his ability to complement his linemates. Take Jakub Voracek for example, who was placed on a line with Couturier simply to increase his production:

We're trying to get [Jakub Voracek] going, and everybody that's played with [Sean Couturier] has found a pretty good level of success. That might jump start [Voracek] a little bit. We obviously need him playing well.

- Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault on Nov. 21, via NHL.com

And since that move, Voracek has three points in four games, including the GWG over the Canucks on Monday, which helped him get “the swagger back.”

Couturier and his 200-foot abilities are something to be thankful for.

Hall

Carter Hart and Brian Elliott.

Yes, Elliott, as well. Don’t forget him.

Goaltending has not made headlines so far and that is only a positive in Philadelphia.

Here are the numbers during the Flyers’ 8-2-4 November:

Hart — 5-2-2, 2.05 goals-against average, .921 save percentage.

Elliott — 3-0-2, 2.28 goals-against average, .926 save percentage.

At Thanksgiving last year, the Flyers had already played four goalies en route to playing an NHL-record eight by season’s end.

Hart has been strong and the 34-year-old Elliott held down the fort when the 21-year-old went through a rough patch in October.

The Flyers have some stability in net and fans will surely be thankful for that.

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Will Brian Elliott surprise in Flyers' goalie tandem with Carter Hart?

Will Brian Elliott surprise in Flyers' goalie tandem with Carter Hart?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Will Brian Elliott surprise us in the Flyers' 2019-20 goalie tandem?

Emmer

Without a doubt Elliott has earned his spot on the ice and I believe he can bring many surprises to the goalie tandem this year. 

Despite coming into 2019-20 with 14 seasons of NHL experience under his belt, "Moose" still had a lot to prove in Philadelphia. After two injury-filled years with the Flyers, it was time the 34-year-old made a strong and healthy comeback.

Through his first three appearances of the season, he has shown he's still got it.

The team needed strong goaltending — Flyers fans knew that. Now, the Flyers have a strong tandem with Carter Hart and Elliott between the pipes. With so many high hopes running on Hart, it’s a relief to know there’s another strong competitor to trust.

Elliott has been surprising already with what he’s brought in the early going. In his first two starts of the season in Calgary and Philadelphia, the veteran backstop was solid from start to finish. Monday night, specifically, was one of his best, as he helped shut down countless scoring opportunities from the Vegas Golden Knights and was greatly admired later for it by Alain Vigneault and teammates.

It’s still early, but the confidence he’s shown in net, as well as his .925 save percentage through three appearances, is a good start for the veteran goaltender. 

Time will tell what other surprises Elliott can bring to the tandem but one thing is for certain: the Flyers have two strong goaltenders right now and that is a sight for sore eyes. 

Hall

We shouldn’t be too surprised by what has transpired in net.

Hart was strong through three games and then had a few subpar performances. That’s OK. He’s 21 years old and is going to have games in which he’s not sharp, which will result in the Flyers turning to Elliott at times.

Elliott hasn’t been surprising because he’s a more than capable goaltender when healthy — and has shown that even through injury-plagued seasons with the Flyers.

In 2017-18, he went 15-5-1 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .912 save percentage from Dec. 4 to Feb. 10 before needing core muscle surgery.

In 2018-19, he went 5-5-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .928 save percentage from Oct. 13 to Nov. 15 before suffering a lower-body injury.

For the 34-year-old to truly surprise in the goalie tandem and take away games from Hart, we’ll have to see Elliott keep it up (and stay healthy) as the grind gets tougher. He looks good so far, though, and that’s a major positive.

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What was most troubling about Flyers' 0-2-1 road trip?

What was most troubling about Flyers' 0-2-1 road trip?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What was the most troubling aspect of the Flyers' 0-2-1 road trip?

Emmer

How many other NHL teams had to deal with the crazy travel schedule for the first five games of the season like the Flyers? You guessed it — none. 

No other team in the league traveled across nine different time zones to start its season and I believe the most troubling aspect of the road trip was just that — adjusting to time zones. 

From traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland, for the final preseason game to the final game of the three-game Western Canada road trip, the Flyers had flown over 14,853 miles, played in four different time zones and spent parts of 19 of 21 days on the road since Sept. 27.

Now that is a long road trip.

I think it’s fair to say the extensive travel led to phases of fatigue for the team. Battling through that many time zones in a short amount of time, all while trying to physically give your best efforts on the ice, wears anyone down. 

With action returning to the Wells Fargo Center this weekend, there’s potential to hit the reset button and start fresh on home ice against Dallas. 

On a side note — I’ve heard Jakub Voracek is a very nervous flier and I hope he was comforted during these trips by his teammates. 

Hall

Everyone heard it in the opening of the NHL Network’s “Behind The Glass” series.

“I want to score f---ing hard,” Alain Vigneault said, “and hard to the net.”

The Flyers focused on developing a brand of size and smarts during the offseason and preseason. Look at the additions to the lineup and roster:

Kevin Hayes — 6-foot-5, 216 pounds
Justin Braun — 6-foot-2, 205 pounds
Matt Niskanen — 6-foot-1, 203 pounds
Tyler Pitlick — 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Connor Bunnaman — 6-foot-3, 226 pounds
Carsen Twarynski — 6-foot-2, 206 pounds
Chris Stewart — 6-foot-2, 243 pounds

But what happens when size and smarts square off with top-end speed and skill?

Will they be enough to combat and control the better teams?

The Flames and Oilers won that battle against the Flyers in the final two games of the road trip, outscoring the orange and black by a combined 9-4.

The Flyers have a new identity and system — the product can work.

However, it did not meet two early challenges. In the aftermath, you can’t blame anyone for wanting to see a whole lot more before believing this season will be different.

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