I wanted to hold off writing anything that showcased my excitement for the Flyers until after the Round Robin. I was worried that if I said anything before the end of it, they might blow it or someone might get hurt and then everything would be worried. But now, it’s time to dive in and preview the series between the Montreal Canadiens and the ABSOLUTE WAGON that is the Philadelphia Flyers.
First, let’s take a look at Montreal. In a normal season, there was no chance they made the playoffs, but this is 2020 and literally everything is possible. Then the qualifying round started and we saw a different Montreal team. They clearly played like they had nothing to lose, so they played loose and played well. It really seemed like the Pens played too uptight and worried, so Montreal got the better of them. This was a scenario I hoped for and knew was almost entirely reliant on the performance of Carey Price. He has the ability to steal a game or two and he did, setting up the matchup we have in front of us.
Looking at Montreal’s roster, it’s pretty apparent that Carey Price and Shea Weber are the X-Factors here. Shocker, I know. If Price is off his game, he’s going to have to rely on an offense whose biggest stars didn’t show up when they needed to. Max Domi, Brendan Gallagher, and Jonathan Drouin had a combined 2 points in the series against the Pens. Now, I’m not saying that other players didn’t step up. Paul Byron had 3 points, and Shea Weber had 4. However, that brings me to the Shea Weber aspect of this matchup. Shea Weber is a phenomenal defenseman with great offensive ability, there is no denying that. That being said, I just don’t see the Habs being able to rely on him from both an offensive and defensive standpoint enough that will allow them to win 4 out of 7 games against the Flyers. Yes, he has Jeff Petry to help him out on the back end, and that aforementioned trio of forwards could begin to step up, but I just don’t think that’s very likely. Call this more of a feel-based than stat-based post all you want, but when I feel this strongly about it, I feel obligated to say it.
Then we get to the Flyers, a team that had won 9 of their last 10 games before the pause, with the last game being the loss that snapped a 9-game win streak. My biggest fear when the season was set to resume was whether or not the depth would still be present like it was at the end of the regular season. I thought it had a chance, but I wasn’t 100% certain. Well, it turns out the depth got even BETTER. Scott Laughton of all people led the Eastern Conference round robin with 3 goals and 5 points, as the line of Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, and Laughton registered a combined 11 points. The bottom six chipped in with goals from guys like Tyler Pitlick, Nic Aube-Kubel, and Joel Farabee. The best part is that’s not even mentioning Nate Thompson and the young defensemen Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers, who all scored during the round robin.
I’m sure some of you reading have no idea who those guys are, so I’ll sum it up real quickly. The Flyers are SCARY deep on both ends of the ice. While Couturier, Giroux and Voracek didn’t do much, that’s the point of depth and something that was a bit of a trend all season: guys stepping up when others struggle. Either way, I’m not worried at all as those three are vets with playoff experience and will show up when it matters.
The last thing I need to talk about is Carter Hart. Again, this kid genuinely makes me wonder if it’s possible to legally adopt another adult. He was absolutely electric coming down the stretch playing like a Vezina caliber goaltender, and it looks like that’s staying put. He allowed only one goal each against the Bruins and the Lightning, two of the top offensive teams in the league. Thanks to his play and tremendous offensive and defensive support, the Flyers never trailed once during the round robin, proving they picked up where they left off and that not only can they hang with the big guys, they ARE the big guys. This is a Flyers team that gets fans so excited, they are ready to run through a brick wall, and rightfully so.
I know this is a long one but I gotta satisfy the stat guys out there by giving you the season series.
- Flyers won the series with a record of 2-1-0. Both Flyers wins came in OT (remember Provorov’s unreal goal at the end of November?)
- Carter Hart only played in one game, allowing only two goals
- Giroux, Couturier, Provorov, and Konecny all had points in both Flyers wins
Make no mistake about it, this Canadiens team is good. They’re not going to roll over lightly and put up a hell of a fight in this series. They proved they have that capability against the Penguins, and I fully expect it to be a hard fought series. That being said, the Flyers are a better team from top to bottom.
Give me Flyers in 6. LET’S GO!