The Philadelphia Flyers, The right team in the right place at the wrong time

For far too long the Flyers have just been there. Never a problem making the playoffs, But always a problem making noise once they are there. The Flyers finished 41-21 this year with 89 points and had strong confidence behind young star goalie Carter Hart. The coronavirus pandemic gave the NHL an alternate situation in their resumption of the league as they announced Qualifying Rounds and a Round Robbin tournament. The Flyers annihilated the Round Robin tournament blasting the Eastern Conference on a 4-0 record. This put them in a position to “in theory” play the worst remaining team to win the Qualifying Round which happened to be the Montreal Canadians. Outside of a game 2 slip up the Habs never really belonged against the Flyers as (Philly) punched their ticket to the second round in 6 games. Then at that moment, they were really tested. An Islanders team that finished much lower in the seeding caught fire at the right time and sometimes that’s all it takes. While in theory the series (the Flyers) were sent packing went 7 games it felt New York was far ahead of Philly almost every minute. Through 4 games The Islanders were dominating with a 3-1 lead. It seemed every goal the Flyers made the Islanders matched and for the first time, Carter Hart and the Flyers looked vulnerable. The Flyers fought with their life and won back to back games in overtime to nod the series up and force a series-deciding game 7. In the most important game of the season, the Flyers failed to show up. From puck drop to the final horn the Islanders controlled all aspects of the game and won 4-0. In all honesty, it’s easy for Flyers fans to be upset but I believe exactly what most do, The Islanders are on a warpath and unfortunately, this very good Flyers team was standing like a deer in headlights on the tracks. Just remember the right team, right place, wrong time.

The Flyers take a controlling 3-1 lead against the Canadians

The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Montreal Canadians in Game 4 of the first round of the NHL playoffs 2-0. The win gave the Flyers full control of the series, as they move one game within advancing to the next round. Since the embarrassing performance in Game 2, the Flyers have won both games, and Carter Hart has since put up two shutouts. The 22-year-old goalie for the Flyers has been exceptional in the last two games for the Flyers. Hart has helped carry the team to two wins with only three goals to help support him.

In Game 4, the Flyers played a much stronger, more complete game, then they have had all series. Yet, they still struggled at times clearing the puck out of their zone, but Carter Hart was able to hold the Flyers through. In addition to Hart being spectacular, the Flyers defense also has stood up to the occasion and held their own against the Canadians. So far in the series, the Flyers haven’t shown the same polish they showed through the first three round-robin games. To some fans, this may seem like a concern, but let’s remember, it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win. Of course, I would love for the Flyers to win every game 3-0, but that’s not going to be the case. What’s going to be the case is what’s happening, a series where teams slug it out to see who will work harder to win. If anything comes from the close games in the series so far, it should be used as a testament to the Flyers’ ability to win close games. Winning is a habit, and so far the Flyers have kept that habit no matter how they do it.

I’m not the biggest fan of comparing two sports experiences, especially in the playoffs, but let’s look at the 2017 Eagles. Once Carson Wentz went down, it wasn’t pretty, but the team clinched the number one seed. After that, they faced the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, and it took till the last play to win. It’s that “Fight until the end” ability, that carries team when there are 5 minutes left in a game. Every championship team has this trait. Look at the 2008 Phillies, they repeatedly showed that they were able to give their all in the closing moments. It wasn’t clearer than in the World Series. After the Phillies fell in game 2 4-2, they responded by winning game 3 by a one-run margin of 5-4. Proving to themselves that they can win close games, gives teams confidence when they are in moments like that in the future. The Eagles demonstrated that in the Falcons game, and had the confidence to make key plays in the final moments of the Superbowl. For the Flyers, they were able to win two very close games after being blown out, the trait was demonstrated.

Winning Game 4 for the Flyers was huge. It doesn’t have to be stated how 3-1, and 2-2 are two completely different ball games. Since the Flyers did win, they can have an opportunity to clinch the series tomorrow at 8 pm est. As of now, the next team the Flyers will face in the playoffs isn’t determined. Right now it seems like the Flyers will be facing the New York Islanders, as they have a 3-0 lead on the Washington Capitals, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are down 3-1 to the Lightning. I’m not going to start to look that much ahead, but no matter who the Flyers end up facing it will be challenging of a fight than the Canadians.

It’s not just because the next challenger will be a higher seed, but also because whatever team the Flyers play will be red-hot. Although, this is exactly why this first-round matchup for the Flyers was perfect. The Canadians, as we have seen, are a hard-working, gritty team. After the wake-up call in Game 2, the Flyers were able to demonstrate they fight back. This is the exact needed to win in the playoffs. The Flyers have responded, and they have responded strongly. They have placed themselves where they needed to be, in a position to advance, and they have shown that they can respond to adversity, which will be key if they expect to make a deep run in the playoffs.

The Flyers prepare to rebound for Game 3 against the Canadians

The Philadelphia Flyers are set to face the Montreal Canadians tonight at 8 pm est, Game 3 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. After a dismal 5-0 lost in Game 2, the Flyers are looking to rebound and take back the lead in the series. It doesn’t have to be stated that this is a crucial game for the Flyers (most playoffs games tend to be). Although, this game has some added pressure considering that the Flyers are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. The expectations for the Flyers have drastically changed since entering the round-robin. Since then the Flyers have earned the first seed in the Eastern Conference, and improved to one of the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. So, for the Flyers to fall behind the Canadians in the first round is going to be added trouble in an already difficult road to the championship.

Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart, will face the majority of the attention for tonight’s game after being pulled from Game 2. Of course, Hart wasn’t at fault for a terrible Flyers performance but will be expected to carry the team if they do start to fall behind again. Also facing pressure is Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux, who has yet to score in any of the Flyers games since the NHL has started back up. As a matter of fact, the entire first line for the Flyers is scoreless. You can see how quickly a storyline can change from “The Flyers’ Amazing Depth” to “The Flyers’ Lack of Superstars”. Like the majority of playoff runs and eventual championships, teams need players to step-up. Of course, the Flyers have had great performances, such as Carter Hart in Game 1, but the team will need one of its leaders to carry them further than round one.

Of course, the Flyers shouldn’t be sirening all the alarms because they lost one game out of the five since the return to play. Although, they should be worried about falling back to a Canadians team that has already beaten the odds against the Penguins and one of the league’s top goalies with Carey Price. Flyers’ coach Alain Vigneault, who is one of this year’s contenders for coach of the year, is going to prove he is worthy of such an award with tonight’s game. After being embarrassed by the Canadians, it’s going to be in the hands of Vigneault to make the correct decisions either with line changes or with mental preparedness for the Flyers. This game will be the tone-setter for the rest of this series and the Flyers championship aspiration. Will the Flyers roll over and die, or are they going to fight back and bounce back to reclaim control? For the Flyers Game, 2 could be a (very painful) blessing in disguise. There aren’t many times in the playoffs when a team can be beaten 5-0 and still have the opportunity to look at it as a “teaching moment”.

In conclusion, let’s hope that the Flyers win because if they don’t, then we are stuck with the 76ers and Phillies. Trust me, I’m not prepared to go into another Brett Brown post-season, or forced to witness continuous bullpen explosions without some good news.