COVID-19 is a real kick in the knackers. The Flyers were the hottest team in the NHL. They suffered through injuries and illness and played really good hockey. Carter Hart looked like the Vezina Trophy candidate we all expected. The offense was rolling to the tune of having averaged just under four goals per game since February 1st. The only two scoreless games over the past two months were against Boston and New Jersey. In both games, the opposing goalies were fantastic. In fact, look at this performance line put together by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall:
So naturally while rolling and having a chance to take over first place from the Capitals, a global pandemic will shut things down. I smell a Washington conspiracy.
How do we get the benefit of Playoff hockey? Well, there are reports that the NHL is looking to finish the season by playing in a neutral city, without fans, similar to what Major League Baseball has planned.
If they do complete the season and the Flyers remain white-hot, then I do believe they can win their first Stanley Cup in 45 years. Any Flyer fan will agree, a Cup without fans is better than no Cup!
Where do We go from here?
It is obvious that the more the quarantine and social distancing standards are in effect that there will not be a completion of the regular season. The Flyers are in perfect shape to go into the playoffs, but what of the other teams that are fighting for a playoff spot? Every team in the Metropolitan Divison, except the Devils, are only one game out of the final playoff spot. Here is the breakdown:
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes hold the final playoff spots. The Islanders trail them both by one point and the Rangers trail by two points. In the Atlantic, the Florida Panthers trail the final spot by three points. All of these teams had over ten games remaining. March and April games tend to be the best regular-season hockey games as teams fight for a playoff spot. So what are the options?
NHL Commissioner and fan favorite Gary Bettman recently stated in an interview on NBCSN’s Lunch Talk Live, that all options are being looked at to include extending the season into the summer.
“We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light, and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the country you can’t play and other places where you can.
“We’re looking at all options. Nothing has been ruled in, nothing has been ruled out. It’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well, and the health of the country, and by the country, I mean both Canada and the U.S., obviously.”
Bettman also stated that when given the green light, players will need two weeks to get back in shape.
Flyers’ Thoughts on Neutral Site Games
In a recent phone interview, Scott Laughton stated the following regarding the possibility of playing at a neutral site:
“I saw some reports like that too. I think any chance it gives us to come back and play some playoff hockey. I think that’s what we play all year for. I think that’s what a lot of guys are thinking, especially here in Philly. We want to play hockey. We want a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I think any chance we can do that and logistics-wise where we can play. I think first and foremost is the safety of everyone. If we can get past all of this and come out stronger, hopefully, we can get something done where we can play. I know, especially in Philly, guys definitely want to play and have a chance of winning the Cup.”
Last week, Kevin Hayes was asked about playing at a neutral site without fans”
“If there’s going to be no fans there, then I don’t think it’s a big deal. Doesn’t matter where the ice is. I think the biggest part of the home-ice advantage is the fans and the feeling you get when you enter the arena, knowing how passionate your fans are and how much you want to play for them. If there’s no fans there, I don’t think you would have that much home-ice advantage. Ice is the same everywhere. So yes, I am willing to play at a neutral site.”
Regardless of where and when they resume the season, it is safe to say everyone is on board with getting hockey back this season. I hope you all are healthy and safe during these uncertain times.
Mandatory Credit – © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports