The Flyers are 12-1-1 with 25 points and a plus-18 goal differential since Jan. 14.
They have passed 13 teams after residing in the NHL basement on the morning of Jan. 13 with 38 points.
Twenty-three games remain in their playoff pursuit, which had the Flyers six points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot entering Monday.
With all that said, let's get into our weekly observations:
• It looks like Wayne Simmonds has himself audition time Tuesday night.
TSN's Darren Dreger reported in late January that the NHL-leading Lightning had inquired about Simmonds.
What do you know, here comes Tampa Bay visiting the Wells Fargo Center less than a week before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. The Lightning will get a firsthand look at the 30-year-old power forward who is Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher's biggest decision ahead of next Monday.
A game won't completely sway Tampa Bay one way or the other. However, say Simmonds scores a goal, puts his toughness and net-front prowess on display, it wouldn't hurt the Lightning's interest (and potential offer) to solidify a Stanley Cup run.
Former Lightning and Flyers player Vinny Lecavalier had this to say about Simmonds to The Athletic's Joe Smith:
He protected me in two line brawls. He's just a great teammate. He's not afraid of anybody.
Not a bad quality to have when you'll be the No. 1 target in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
• The Cam Talbot trade made perfect sense for the Flyers.
If Carter Hart is the Flyers' No. 1 of the future, then Anthony Stolarz is at best their backup. The 25-year-old has overcome a lot but his track record of knee injuries was a concern and there would have been challenges in retaining him (see story).
"Obviously there's a decent probability he'll be an unrestricted free agent, or at least would have been if he stayed with us," Fletcher said last Saturday.
So the Flyers capitalized on Stolarz's positive stock by acquiring a 31-year-old goalie with experience as a No. 1 and No. 2, who can help now and possibly down the road. With Talbot compared to Stolarz, they actually have more flexibility (see story).
"Every summer there are goaltenders available," Fletcher said. "I think this is an opportunity for us to evaluate Cam down the stretch and see if there's a fit. As importantly, hopefully give us a boost as we continue to push for a playoff spot."
• The relationship between Talbot and Hart has been well-documented.
Talbot, who has become a mentor for Hart, offered a noteworthy quote last Saturday on the 20-year-old sensation:
It started a couple summers ago, we skated once or twice together. Then this past summer, every time we were on the ice, we were on the ice together. I've been watching Carter do his thing since he has been called up.
He gave me a call before his first NHL game, just asked a few questions, wanted to pick my brain about a few things. I think that's what makes him as good as he has been — he's willing and eager to learn, he's a hard-worker and he wants to get better, he wants that help and guidance from people, he's not afraid to ask for it.
I think that's what's making him so successful right now.
• A Sean Couturier appreciation observation:
Since Jan. 8, the 26-year-old center is tied for fourth in the NHL in scoring with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) over 17 games.
Only Patrick Kane (31), Vladimir Tarasenko (27) and Brad Marchand (26) have scored more.
Couturier is projected to finish with a new career-high 34 goals. He'll be up for the Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) yet again.
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