Flyers Faithful asked Bill Meltzer from HockeyBuzz, NHL.com, and PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, Joshua Janet from GCobb, Michael DeNicola from Orange and Black Pack, and our very own Bob H five questions about the second half of the season. We are very grateful that they took the time to share their opinions and predictions with us. Each day of this week, we will run the answers to one of those questions. Today’s question is:
Through the first half of the season, the Flyers got a lot of offensive production from rookies. How will the length of an NHL season impact rookie output in the second half of the season?
Bill Meltzer: Midseason is usually when you see players hit the “rookie wall”, so if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen right about now. I’d worry more about players who are recently removed from collegiate hockey — such as Matt Read — rather than ones who have been through a couple AHL seasons. The rookie wall also sometimes affects players coming out of major junior hockey but, if anything, Sean Couturier has been getting stronger of late. Brayden Schenn’s early season injuries may actually be a blessing in disguise, because he’s got a full tank of gas at the same time that players on other teams may be running a little low on energy before gearing up for the playoffs.
Joshua Janet: As long as no one is expecting Matt Read or Sean Couturier to tally thirty goals apiece, the rookies will hold up just fine. Read is on pace to break the twenty goal mark while Couturier, scoring at a goal-per-game clip lately, should finish in the late teens. Although it’s unfortunate that Brayden Schenn’s season was shortened by a concussion, he has the added benefit of jumping into the line-up refreshed at the halfway marker.
Michael DeNicola: A perfect, more recent example of this is Sergei Bobrovsky and his rookie season. He started out hot, but the final quarter of his first NHL schedule began to take a toll on his longevity. I’m sure it’s like this for the majority of the rookies in this league, and I pray it isn’t for the Flyers and our young guns shortly down the road. In the final 20-games of the regular season, a club must head into the Playoffs with momentum and steam. Especially an Eastern Conference team who could possibly battle with adversaries the likes of Boston and the New York Rangers. Though our rooks have shown a ton of potential and promise, it won’t mean a thing until they can prove something when the meat & potatoes of the league calendar’s in full gear. But I must say, Sean Couturier has only looked like he’s gotten stronger as the season progresses.
Bob Herpen: No matter where you come from, whether it’s college, juniors or the minors, there’s always gonna be the time where players hit the wall because the NHL is still a sizeable jump in intensity between all three. That said, I think Matt Read may come out the least unscathed of all the newbies because he’s shown the most maturity on the fly and his overall game has been the most consistent. Sean Couturier, I think, already hit his rough patch in terms of production at the end of last calendar year and though he may have another small dip as the games get rougher due to playoff implications, it’s in his favor that he’s been through the worst. Harry Z, Brayden Schenn and Erik Gustafsson on the other hand, the jury’s still out because they’ve been bouncing in and out of the lineup for various reasons and they may not find equilibrium.