For a guy who was a healthy scratch just five weeks ago, Michael Raffl has made the most of the opportunities presented to him since returning to the lineup on Nov. 27.
In fact, December may have been the best month in the 25-year-old’s professional hockey career.
During the final calendar month of 2013, Raffl notched 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in 14 games played, including his first career NHL goal against Ottawa on Dec. 9. Prior to the beginning of December, Raffl had just one point in 14 games played.
The Philadelphia Flyers couldn't have ended the 2013 portion of their season any better.
The Flyers defeated the Calgary Flames, 4-1, and head into 2014 winners of four straight and six of their last seven. At 20-16-4, they sit one point behind the Washington Capitals for second place in the Metro with both teams having played 40 games.
Ray Emery got the start for the Flyers, stopping 23 shots for the win. He didn't need to be overly impressive as the Flames didn't provide much pressure, but he came up with key saves late in the game to preserve the lead the Flyers built.
The Flyers allowed a season-high 44 shots, all while taking just 27.
With numbers like that, it's hard to fathom them being able to steal one point, let alone two. Steve Mason did just that.
Mason stopped a season-high 41 shots and the Flyers came back to force overtime before winning in a shootout, 4-3, in Vancouver. It's their fifth win in the last six games, and they now sit three points behind the Washington Capitals for second place in the Metro.
(Photo: Steve Mason makes a save on David Booth. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Just four minutes into the hockey game, it already seemed as if Ilya Bryzgalov was on his way to exacting revenge on his former team.
But there were 56 more minutes of hockey, and the Flyers didn't allow that to happen. Sparked by Wayne Simmonds' two-goal night, the Flyers came back to win in a shootout, 4-3, over Edmonton Saturday night.
Simmonds now leads the Flyers with 12 goals. Just three games ago, he had only half of that total.
(Photo: Michael Raffl scores the winning shootout goal on Ilya Bryzgalov. Photo by Marko Ditkun/NHLI via Getty Images)
Five games ago, Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds scored just five goals along with ten assists.
Not bad totals by any stretch, but not spectacular for a productive winger known for hard work, physical play, and most importantly, timely scoring.
Since going goalless for 10 straight games dating from Nov. 27 until Dec. 17, Simmonds has scored five goals and two assists, doubling his goal total, and giving a team that looked hopeless in terms of secondary scoring months ago a chance to be lethal in that department.
It was not as if "Wayne Train" wasn't capable. He scored 28 goals two seasons ago, and if a lockout-shortened 2013 season spanned 82 games, Simmonds could have replicated that goal total again, scoring 15 goals in 45 games.
(Photo by John Russo/The Checking Line; October 24, 2013)
Ranked towards the bottom of the league in scoring, the Flyers were able to utilize a rare offensive outburst Wednesday night in Detroit en route to a 6-3 win.
Coming into Wednesday's game against the Red Wings, the Flyers averaged just 2.07 goals per game, which places them second to last in the league, just ahead of the Buffalo Sabres at 1.61.
Behind a career night from Sean Couturier and a strong four-goal third period, the Flyers were able to almost triple their average.
In fact, it was Couturier’s first career four-point night (at least in the regular season), as he finished the game with 2 goals and 2 assists. He now has five goals and five assists in nine games since breaking his scoring drought on Nov. 19 against Ottawa.
(Photo: The Flyers celebrate a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
The Flyers penalty kill unit was on its best all season it seemed.
Despite bad penalties surrendering six power opportunities for the Winnipeg Jets, the penalty kill unit came through big all six times. The unit even tallied a goal as the defensive effort led the Flyers a 2-1 win over Winnipeg.
"(The Jets) power play shoots a lot of pucks," Sean Couturier, who had a short-handed goal, said. "They've got good shots back there and we just wanted to keep pressure on and not give them time to set up their shots. We did a good job putting on that pressure to not let them set up."
The win also snapped a short two-game skid that followed a seven-game point streak. The win couldn't have come at a better time as the Flyers embark on a six-game road trip that starts in Nashville on Saturday.
(Photo: Winnipeg's Michael Frolik battles with Matt Read for a loose puck. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
When things are going right offensively for the Flyers, their depth in the front nine really shows.
Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie - The Checking Line - provided some much needed fire power at the end of the second period to give the Flyers a boost en route to a 4-1 win over the Sabres on Thursday.
Read scored two goals in the span of 1 minute, 40 seconds, and Steve Downie and Sean Couturier had the primary and secondary assists respectively on both goals. The goals came in the final six minutes of the second, erasing a 1-0 Buffalo lead.
(Photo: Matt Read [middle celebrates with [left to right] Steve Downie, Sean Couturier, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen after Read's second goal late in the second period. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)