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.

What Will Winning A Championship During A Pandemic Look Like?

Today sports return to Philadelphia (sorry Union). The Philadelphia Phillies are set to play a regular-season MLB game for the first time since September of last year, the Philadelphia 76ers have an exhibition game against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Flyers are just around the corner. With the start of sports getting back to play, so come the high expectations that are placed on these teams. With the 76ers, they are hoping to turn around a mediocre regular season performance, the Flyers are looking to keep their hot pace going, and of course, the Phillies are expected to make the playoffs with the new 16 team format. 

Very possibly, Philadelphia could have all four major sports teams play a playoff game in the calendar year. Which is pretty impressive because it’s only happened four times since all four teams have been playing. The latest time was back in 2011 (2009,1981,1978 where the other years for those interested) when the Phillies lost to the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, the 76ers lost to the Heat, the Eagles lost Green Bay, and the Flyers fell to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup. So if you have a basic understanding of how math works, the more teams in the playoffs mean the likely chance that one of those teams can win the championship. So with that knowledge, it made me ponder what does a championship look like during a pandemic?

A lot of the joy that comes from watching your team winning a championship is celebrating with other fans, and joining together to celebrate. Although, considering that the MLB world series concludes at the end of October, and both the NBA and NHL championships before that, what will that mean for a parade? For fans, the parade is the crown of winning the championship (a close second is being able to brag to your friends that support other teams that they suck). Of course, we have no idea what the coronavirus’s impact could be at that time, but with Philadelphia officials already banning fans from the Eagles stadium for the upcoming season, it feels unlikely that a parade could work. With that out of the picture, how can fans express their joy? One big Zoom call? 

I understand I’m getting ahead of myself, and just as easily as these teams can make the playoffs, all of them could be swept out of the first round. Although, strangely it feels exactly what a Philadelphia sports team would do. The one year when fans can’t attend, they go on and win a championship. 

Continuing the idea of what the fan experience would be, I don’t know how much more changes past not having a parade. Of course, I’m not oblivious to some of the fans that will argue “It’s my American right to stand inches away from strangers, in cold weather, while I only get a glimpse of the team”. Parade or not, I think fans will still have the same communal experience as they can throw it in the faces of the losing team online. I’m sure the championship memorabilia will still come (although delayed because come on it’s a pandemic, cut some slack!) and you can wear it next season when hopefully fans can enter the stadiums once again. 

In terms of the value that the championship will have, shouldn’t change. Now I’m fully prepared to make the opposite argument if the Mets, Yankees, Penguins, or any team from Boston wins. With the setup of the season for baseball, it’s simply just more meaningful games. The NBA and NHL will have slightly different setups but will still have the same elements of a normal post-season. Again, this season will always have an asterisk next to it, but so do dozens of other championships that fans don’t remember. All that matters is that the team that wins, won. 

“Now I’m fully prepared to make the opposite argument if the Mets, Yankees, Penguins, or any team from Boston wins.”

Lastly, if you haven’t been paying attention (which I don’t blame you), please take this last advice, look at Liverpool. Yes, the soccer team from England. Liverpool recently won the Premier League, and this was the club’s first title in 30 years. Just like Philadelphia sports fans, their first instinct when their team won is to celebrate with other fans. Fans were gathering around the Mersey Ferry terminal, which resulted in their mayor Joe Anderson asking fans to go back home. Now, I think you know what happens next. Until that point, the Liverpool area totaled 544 coronavirus deaths, on June 25th that number jumped to 1,677. Since then, of course, fans have stayed home, but the impact was done. I understand just like you, that if one of our teams won a championship it would be very disappointing not to celebrate with all of our other fans to rejoice in victory. Again, this all may mean nothing for Philadelphia fans but someone team will win, and we must understand the importance of keeping people safe.