After almost a decade of pure mediocracy, the Flyers are a good hockey team again. They rallied against the Hurricanes Thursday night, with a 4-1 victory at home.
The hottest team in the NHL is finally rewarded, now sitting atop the Metropolitan Division, tied with the Washington Capitals. As the entire arena was filled with screaming Flyers’ fans, the players responded well. The game was full of high energy, with Nic Aube-Kubel and Joel Farabee playing every shift like it was their last.
For the most part, the first period was fairly slow to start. Both teams were not shooting much in the first ten minutes, but the playoff vibes were in the building. Each team was laying heavy hits, and playing clean, conservative hockey.
Coach Alain Vigneault simply outcoached Rod Brind’Amour, and this started in the first period. AV sent a heavy forecheck to the ‘Canes’ defenders, causing their structure to collapse. Carolina had to throw their breakout out of the window, causing them to look for two-line passes. The Flyers, sitting in a trap format, would either intercept the pass or clog the passing lanes, leading to a plethora of Hurricanes’ icings.
For the most part, this period stayed quiet. This was until the heavy forecheck paid off. Scott Laughton forced a turnover, in which Ivan Provorov buried his own rebound to put Philly up 1-0. The goal was the 44th goal by a Flyers’ d-man this season, the most among NHL teams. Along with this, Derek Grant was credited with an assist, giving him his fifth point in the last three games, making him look like quite the pickup for Philly at the deadline.
Provy has now scored in back-to-back games, and currently sitting on a four-game point streak.
Again, the first half of this period was fairly slow. Carolina picked up the two only penalties between both teams the entire game. Edmundson went to the box for holding Giroux’s stick, as Martinhook tripped up Provy to prevent a probable goal. The Flyers powerplay failed to get many high danger chances and didn’t score on either.
Throughout the period though, Philly controlled the pace. The Flyers were beating the ‘Canes on every zone entry, and moving the puck down low. They were throwing a ton of shots at Nedeljkovic, but he had all the answers. Soon enough, however, Tyler Pitlick fed Michael Raffl on an odd-man rush, where Raffl beat Nedeljkovic high blocker side, putting the Flyers up 2-0 after two.
Despite controlling the majority of the game, the back-to-back finally looked like it got to the Flyers. They started the third period with plenty of fatigue, leading to a broken play only three minutes into the third. Justin Williams capitalized, cutting the orange and black’s lead in half.
What’s the way of AV, however? Come back out ten times harder.
Not even two minutes later, the Flyers scored two goals within 26 seconds. The man who never gives up on the play, Nic Aube-Kubel, scored from behind the goal line on a bank shot. He earned that goal and put the Flyers up 3-1. Quickly after, Sean Couturier buried one while digging in tight to put this game away.
We’ll let the stats talk for us on this one:
The Philadelphia Flyers are playing like an elite hockey team. As their game was going on, the Rangers and Capitals were battling it out. The Flyers showed a score update on the jumbotron, showing a 4-3 Rangers lead, which may have been the largest cheer Wells Fargo has heard this season.
With any form of Caps loss, the Flyers would sit either tied or in sole possession of first place in the Metro. We can thank Mika Zibanejad, who snuck FIVE goals past Samsonov, including an OT winner.
Philly gets their Friday night off, and then play host to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night. Coverage begins at 6:30, with puck drop slated for 7. With the Bruins looking to end the Flyers’ streak next Tuesday, this one seems more important than it should for Philly.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University