The Domino Effect: How demotions and scratches helped get Flyers to rise

The 2015-16 season did not start off any differently than the recent seasons of the past. Players were inconsistent and not producing and, as a result, frustration mounted.

Once again each game was a contest to earn points just to stay out of the basement of the NHL standings.

The addition of Dave Hakstol as the new head coach gave Philadelphia hockey admirers high hopes, but alas there really wasn’t much improvement, not to his fault, but Hakstol wasn't as much of an overnight sensation as fans would have hoped.

One pivotal moment in the Flyers recent run is when Hakstol decided to place first-line winger Jake Voracek on the fourth line to light a spark in the player prior to the Flyers meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 23.

To that point, Voracek had just one goal and eight assists in a season of struggles. Fans were a little wary of the decision, but Voracek needed something. He picked up two assists that night. And, that little spark for Voracek was lit and woke up the entire team in the process.

Jake Voracek began to earn points and pick up his game. After his two-point game on Nov. 23, Voracek picked up four points over his next five games. After a three-game pointless streak after that, Voracek started a six-game points streak on Dec. 11 and has three goals and eight assists in the 11 games since.

In 40 games, he has now scored four goals and added 22 assists to total 26 points. With this newfound confidence and recent success, he was placed back on the first line with his "chemistry" mate, Claude Giroux.

Shayne Gostisbehere has also been an addition to this newfound excitement and confidence. He has seven goals, nine assists and 16 points in 23 games since being called up on Nov. 14. He has been a positive force alongside Giroux on the top power play unit. Now that Voracek is starting to succeed, there could be more magic awaiting for the top power play unit that desperately needs it.

As the domino effect continued, Brayden Schenn had a game to sit out and ponder his game for one night on Nov. 14. At the time, Schenn had five goals and two assists for seven points in his first 15 games.

Since then, Schenn has been one of the most powerful forces on the team, Schenn has four goals and 10 assists in 23 games, but has really turned things on of late with his new linemates on the second line. In the previous three games on the current winning streak, Schenn has one goal and four assists.

Secondary scoring has become the addition that the Flyers lacked. Schenn, with new linemates Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl, has been unstoppable to the point where other teams will be watching this line very closely in future contests. Couturier has four goals and two assists in his last five games. Raffl has one goal and two assists in the previous two wins. It's also a line generating a lot of buzz among the fan base.

The last domino to fall in the domino effect is Matt Read. He, like Schenn, had the chance to contemplate his play as a healthy scratch on Jan. 2 when the Flyers faced the Kings looking to salvage points in the final game of a three-game West coast trip. The Flyers lost that day, but since Read's return, essentially as a new player.

Read had three points in his third game since being a scratch on Saturday, one goal and two assists, but has consistently been among the Flyers best players in the previous three games. He has been a different player on the ice and dominated the last two games against the Minnesota Wild and the New York Islanders.

The recent stretch of the Flyers season has been amazing, really a nearly consistent stretch back to the end of November with the exception of the three-game losing streak on the West coast trip. This is the type of hockey that fans want their team to play. They have been waiting for the entire team to start playing with chemistry and consistency. As the dominos have fallen in accountability, the team has risen and continues to rise in the standings.

Denise Mroz is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow her on Twitter @denisemroz10.

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