3 “Stars of the first half”:
- Claude Giroux: No surprise, the Flyers’ leading scorer and all-around offensive dynamo is in the top spot. “G” leads all Flyers with 55 points, which also happens to rank second-best in the NHL, and his 37 helpers also lead the team while standing fourth in the NHL overall. Giroux also boasts a team best 52.3% face-off winning percentage. It is only a matter of time before Claude wears the captain’s “C” on his sweater.
- Scott Hartnell: Giroux’s linemate has benefited greatly from playing with him as well as resurgent veteran Jaromir Jagr. Hartnell currently leads the team in goals with 25 and is second in points with 44 thanks to that pre All-Star Game outburst two weekends ago. That puts him at sixth in the NHL in goals and 19th in points as we resume play following the break. Want a more telling stat of his overall value? Scott also leads the team in plus/minus at plus-18.
- Matt Read: With all apologies to Jagr, Matt Read has to be the most pleasant surprise of the first half. The 25-year-old out of Bemidji State leads all rookies in goals with 15 and also ranks third in overall scoring with 31 points. His plus/minus of plus-12 is also good enough for fourth best among freshmen skaters in the NHL so far this year. All of this makes Read a clear favorite for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.
3 “Disappointing players of the first half”:
- Ilya Bryzgalov: The 50-million-dollar goaltender snatched away from the Valley of the Sun has been inconsistent this season and has been outplayed by his younger understudy Sergei Bobrovsky much of the year — though whether that’s due to his talent ceiling or Peter Laviolette’s crease roulette is up for debate. “Bryz” has had a very average save percentage of .895 and his GAA of 2.99 is only good enough for 39th-best in the NHL. Bryzgalov, tabbed as a Stanley Cup-level goaltender in the off-season, needs to be more consistent and show his teammates that he will be the goalie that they can depend on in the playoffs. If what Laviolette said before the break is true, he’ll get a longer leash to show what he’s got.
- Matt Walker: I didn’t expect that much from the veteran blueliner with the balky hips, but I think we were hoping for more than four games played and a minus-2. He has been waived twice so far this season and will probably not play again unless there are more injuries on defense.
- Chris Pronger: Losing your anchor on defense, your captain and the man responsible for taking better than 20 minutes of ice time per game has weakened the Flyers defensive depth and has left Paul Holmgren looking for a possible replacement at the trade deadline. No matter who is eventually going to make his way to the Quaker City before the end of the year, he’ll be hard pressed to fill the shoes of the rangy 18-year vet who has been bitten by the worst kind of injury luck in only half a season.
That’s all for this week’s 3-on -3, join me next week when we get back to regular season action and get into the home stretch with games against the Jets, Predators, Devils and Rangers.