Well, at least they did it. The Flyers managed to beat the Montreal Canadiens in six games to move on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 2012. When I said that the Flyers would win in six games, I didn’t think it would be that close of a six games. I also didn’t think that the games in which the Flyers did win, they would look as bad as they did. I thought that in the four games they would win, they would be much more dominant, and then we’d see Carey Price steal two games.
Instead, we saw a much more even series. In fact, there were a lot of times in the series where Montreal simply looked like the better hockey team. I was legitimately concerned after game five that the Flyers could find a way to lose this series. The Canadiens were BUZZING all six games, and the Flyers just did not look up to the task at all.
Luckily for the Flyers, Carter Hart showed up when he needed to. Yes, games two and five were not great, but back to back shutouts in games three and four were pivotal as well as his stellar play in game six. I said it for the duration of the series: thank GOD for Carter Hart. If it wasn’t for him, I can guarantee you the Flyers lose that series. If there was any other recent Flyers goaltender in net, they lose in five, and that’s being generous. The defense, while great at times, was pretty average at best, maybe worse. Meanwhile, the offense was just not where it needs to be to make a deep playoff run. When only one of your top five regular season goal scorers pots one in the playoffs, you’re not going to go very far. Thankfully, the depth managed to come through ever so slightly, and the defense contributed offensively to help make up for such lackluster play.
One of the biggest problems for the Flyers is no mystery at all, the power play. Going into game five, the Flyers had one PP goal in 27 attempts, which is absolutely miserable. Thankfully, I guess, they got three in game five. Either way, four PPGs in over 30 attempts is an absolute joke. What boggles my mind about the man advantage in Philly is why Michel Therrien refuses to make any strategic changes. There were slight personnel changes, changing up the high and low screens of the umbrella, but the strategy for the top unit was the exact same. Giroux and Voracek on the wings hoping for one timers, with Provorov running it at the point. Rarely ever could they get it to the slot for a clean shot, and then they started doing the bank pass off the boards that almost worked once before Montreal figured it out. It was the same every time as most of the shots that even made it to the net came from the point, and the Habs had zero problems containing it. I don’t know if it has something to do with Therrien’s ego, but he has got to get over himself and realize this strategy just isn’t working.
I was really excited for this playoff run, but now I’m incredibly worried. Coming up next, the Flyers are going to face the Islanders, a team known for being able to completely shut down the opposition. If the Flyers are going to have any chance in this series, they need to hope that the trouble they faced with the Habs was a freak occurrence. If they don’t, well, it’ll be over rather quickly.
I’ll also use this as a quick Flyers-Islanders preview. Uh, it’s not looking good for the guys in orange and black. In three games this season, the Flyers are 0-2-1 against the Islanders, with one loss coming in the shootout. The one thing giving me hope for this series is that Hart was in net for only one of those games, so maybe he can help grab some wins in this series. The Islanders are a fast team, they’re a good team, and they’re a defensive team. You’ve already seen what I think about the Flyers right now.
For my official prediction, I unfortunately have the Islanders winning. I’m on the fence about how long it’ll go, but for the sake of being somewhat optimistic, I’ll say it goes seven. I really hope I’m wrong, but it’s tough seeing it go any other way. Let’s see how this one goes. Go Flyers.