The NHL is considering a plan to continue the 2019-2020 season in July. Previously, North Dakota has been mentioned as a state to host neutral site games, but that has been scratched. Now, the concept is to have four neutral sites for each division. Rumored arenas feature PNC Arena, Rogers Place, Xcel Energy Center, and one yet to be rumored to represent the Atlantic Division. An option on how to handle the postseason is playing a five-game series through the conference finals with a seven-game series for the Stanley Cup.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, this represents a new beginning. The pause of the NHL regular season has been too great to carry momentum from that nine-game win streak. Most of the Flyers players on conference calls have said it would take about two weeks to get back into hockey shape. The NHL isn’t going to perform a “cold continuation” of the 2019-2020 season; they’ll provide time for teams to condition at practice facilities. Consider Philadelphia’s youth and how that can be an advantage after an impromptu break.
Flyers Fountain of Youth
Considering the average age of the typical Philadelphia Flyers starting lineup, I believe that youth is on Philadelphia’s side. On average, the starting lineup age is just around 26-years-old. Younger players can get their “hockey legs” back at an accelerated rate when they have access to a proper practice facility. At this moment, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the first-round opponent for the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals. Philadelphia has the younger team based on the latest starting lineup for each franchise.
Before the start of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins play one more time. The season series has been a close one, but the Penguins hold the advantage. The Flyers have not allowed Pittsburgh to win in Philadelphia. Beyond the youth aspect of the Flyers, one other question lingers. Can Philadelphia capture momentum away from home ice?
An Orange and Black Mood
At the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Flyers have been elite. Not until recently did the Flyers begin to show they can compete on the road. In March, Philadelphia went undefeated on the road. The next challenge would have been in Tampa Bay against the Lightning. That game would have been the true measuring stick of how Philadelphia can perform on the road.
Under the ideal plan for the 2020 NHL season to resume, the Philadelphia Flyers would potentially play their games at the PNC Arena. The PNC Arena is home to the Carolina Hurricanes and is a candidate to be the site for the NHL Metropolitan Division. Truly, no team has the home-ice advantage without fans. Player routines in familiar places will be different, but the rink is all the same. There isn’t any reason to believe that the Flyers won’t find the groove they were in before the pause.
Ideally, NHL teams should be healthier after this season’s pause. Injured players have healed and would be available to return once play resumes. For the Philadelphia Flyers, this means returns from Philippe Myers, Nate Thompson, and James van Riemsdyk. Naturally, teams are focused on their potential first-round opponents for the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. If conditioning is key for the players to be prepared, all of Philadelphia should have confidence in Alain Vigneault’s game-planning preparation.
By July 2020, hockey could be back. The Philadelphia Flyers have the opportunity upon return to show the NHL that they are as advertised. Before this pause, the Flyers were advertised as an elite NHL franchise. The opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup is all these players want. Philadelphia is the young, hungry, and dangerous team ready to raise the cup.
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