The NHL All-Star game will take place on January 28th. The three-on-three format has changed the set-up of the rosters. Each division can have six forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders. This can allow for a lot of deserving players to not make it. The list of Philadelphia Flyers all-star snubs is more than most teams, however.
Claude Giroux was named to his fifth all-star game in the last seven seasons. He last represented the Flyers in Nashville in 2016. It has been a bounce-back year for Giroux as he sits tied for second in points with 52. His 38 assists rank him second as well. It is a well-deserved honor for the Flyers captain.
Couturier, Voracek Among Flyers All-Star Snubs
With 11 players from each division being selected, the Flyers were among a few teams having players passed over. Only one team had four representatives chosen and that was the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Los Angeles Kings were behind them with three players chosen. Eight other teams had multiple players picked as well.
Seven of the top eight in scoring in the league were selected. This included Giroux but did not include his teammate Voracek. He is ranked seventh in total points with 51, one ahead of Josh Bailey who was chosen for the game. This, however, doesn’t take away from the fact that Giroux deserves to be the Flyers representative for the game. He has bounced back in a big way for the team.
Giroux is second in the league in points and assists. Halfway through the season, Giroux sits at 52 points, more than halfway to his career high of 93. His 14 goals thus far match his season total from a year ago. There are a few things that are different for the center turned winger.
Last season Giroux was recovering from hip and abdominal surgery. It took him until the last month of the season to admit that the recovery was taking a while. His skating was hindered and took a toll on Giroux’s production.
The move to left wing could be mentioned as a possible reason for his resurgence. But he has taken 119 face-offs thus far, 11 more than Couturier. Only 19 of Giroux’s 52 points are from the power play, where he primarily sets up along the left-wing boards. Coming into the season healthy has been the biggest factor in Giroux’s bounce-back season.
But while he deserved to be going to Tampa Bay, a few of his teammates should be sharing the honor as well.
Couturier has taken a big step in his offensive game since being promoted to the top line center. He has already broken his career highs in goals and points. His 23 goals are the highest he’s produced since 2014-15. The 42 points in 42 games broke his career high of 39 points in 2015-16.
A point-per-game player, Couturier is proving that there is more to his game than just his defensive prowess. His goal scoring rate has improved over the last season. He was scoring at a 0.85 rate last season, then a career high. That number has jumped to 1.27 this season.
Couturier asked for more responsibility at the end of the last season and the Flyers have given it to him. And he has passed the test game in and game out. Playing with players like Giroux, Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and even Travis Konecny is a jump from the type of players he previously played with.
Whether it’s the new linemates or a new found confidence, Couturier has been the MVP of the first-half for the Flyers. And the league is starting to take notice of Couturier’s breakout season.
Could that mean a Selke Trophy is on the way for Couturier? That is a question that will have to wait until the end of the season. For now, there is no reason to think that Couturier won’t be able to continue his strong play in the second half. Couturier has shown that he is a top-line center and on his way for more league recognition.
Currently leading the league in assists, it has been a complete turnaround of a season for Voracek. It was a down season for most Flyers last year, Voracek included. In 42 games this season, he has already bested his assist total in 40 fewer games. He is on pace to break his career high of 59 assists, set back in 2014-15.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 11, 2018
The goal scoring is down, his lowest since entering the league in 2008-09. However, one cannot look at Voracek’s season and have anything but positive things to say about the way he has produced. He is the best in the league at setting up his teammates. His 43 assists are five more than the players tied for second, one of which is teammate Claude Giroux.
He has split time between the Flyers top two lines but hasn’t lost a step despite having different linemates. During his time with Giroux and Couturier, the trio was one of the best in the NHL at scoring. It is also fair to say that Giroux and Voracek make up one of the best goal-scoring duos in the league.
The numbers Voracek has put his this season have proven that last season was just an off-year from the player the league has grown to know. Last season was a down year for most Flyers so there is no surprise that Voracek is among a few Flyers who have bounced back.
Voracek’s 5-on-5 performance has taken a dip since playing with Valtteri Filppula, who has been struggling for most of the season. But that has not taken away from the rest of Voracek’s game. He is back among the elite talents in the league and is potentially on pace to break his career high of 81 points.
The first two seasons of Gostisbehere’s career were exact opposites of each other. The high-scoring rookie finished second in the Calder race during his first season. His second season, however, was full of disappointment. Like Giroux, Gostisbehere was recovering from hip and abdominal surgery. He posted seven goals last season, a year after finishing with 17.
His third season in the NHL is looking more like his first. While his current season won’t put him in dominant status, Gostisbehere has taken on more responsibility. He was given more ice time and runs the point on the team’s top power-play unit. He was also recently paired with Ivan Provorov as the number one defensive unit.
Gostisbehere ranks second among all defenseman with nine goals while his 32 points have him tied for fourth place. His numbers have him in contention with players such as Victor Hedman and P.K. Subban. And he has played in four fewer games than the three players ahead of him.
While Gostisbehere may not be the team’s best defensemen, his ability to keep the puck in the zone has been one of his best qualities. He is among the best in the league as preserving his team’s zone time. And more often than not, this ability has finished in the team finding the back of the net.
Another great keep from Shayne Gostisbehere results in a blast from Ivan Provorov that is deflected by Michael Raffl! 2-1 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/hFN5lfMbFQ
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) January 5, 2018
The numbers aren’t eye-popping for Gostisbehere, but he has stepped up his defensive game while providing offense as well. He is turning more into a two-way defenseman instead of simply an offensive talent. Despite a back-and-forth season for the team, Gostisbehere is one of the reasons the team has had success this season.
Flyers All-Star Snubs Aside, Playoffs Are More Important
The Flyers all-star snubs are not the only ones around the league. But they are one of just a few teams that should have had multiple representatives for the game. Reaching the playoffs will be a bigger story for a team that missed the mark last season.
With 46 points on the season, the Flyers sit one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The team has two games in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the second wild-card spot at 47 points. They are also the only team outside of the playoff picture in the conference with a positive goal differential.
The play of players such as Giroux, Voracek, Couturier, and Gostisbehere are part of the reason the team is in such a position.
While the playoffs will be more important, it is still noteworthy that the Flyers could have had as many as four players named to the all-star team.