In the latest edition of Top Flyte, where Philly Sports Network brings you in-depth analysis of the greatest Philadelphia Flyers games of the 2019-20 season (in no particular order), we take a look at the December 17, 2019 matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.
Looking at the schedule, there was nothing incredibly intriguing about this particular game. The Flyers were returning home after an arduous road trip to face a struggling (14-16-4) Anaheim Ducks club.
What made this specific night one of the most profound of the season, and potentially Philadelphia Flyers history, was that this was the first Flyers game at the Wells Fargo Center since the news of forward Oskar Lindblom’s Ewing sarcoma diagnosis.
Oskar Lindblom was not with the team during their recent three-game road trip. The Flyers were informed of the diagnosis on Wednesday, December 11th, before their 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. They would finish 0-3 during the trip on which they were given the unwelcome news. Despite his absence, the Flyers kept Lindblom close. He was in their thoughts. His nameplate and jersey remained at his locker stall in the visitors’ dressing room.
Finally, the orange and black were reunited with their brother as he visited with them during the morning skate prior to the matchup against the Ducks. That heartfelt meeting would just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impassioned atmosphere and events that would follow.
Later that evening, The Flyers hit the ice for warm-ups in their lavender “Hockey Fights Cancer” sweaters. “I Fight for Oskar” signs were provided to every fan in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center and were held high throughout the arena during a tribute video for the 23-year-old. Players on both benches tapped their sticks in honor of the Swedish-born winger. The tributes were truly inspiring.
Once the puck finally dropped, the palpable energy carried into and throughout the battle on the ice. Although the first period was spent by each team feeling the other out, it did not take long for the Flyers to go to work in the second period. Just 55 seconds into the middle stanza, Claude Giroux started off the scoring with a goal from a fantastic tic-tac-toe passing sequence between Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, and the Flyers’ captain. It was truly a thing of beauty and it helped to catapult the Flyers into an all-around dominant performance.
A few minutes later, at the 4:14 mark, forward David Kase scored his first career NHL goal by deflecting a pass from Travis Sanheim past Anaheim netminder John Gibson and into the back of the net. Kase was playing in just his fourth NHL game and was an addition to the line-up in the absence of Oskar Lindblom. What must have been an unforgettable moment for the 23-year-old Czech only added to the magnificence of that night.
The Anaheim Ducks would score their one and only goal of the game at 16:33; a power play goal off a Hampus Lindholm shot from the point that was deflected in by forward Rickard Rakell.
The third period belonged to the Flyers. A little more than four minutes in, after a miscommunication by the Ducks, Jakub Voracek came up with the puck and rocketed down the ice in a 2-on-1 with Morgan Frost. Voracek called his own number, and with a silky smooth snap shot, ended his nine-game goalless drought and gave the home team a 3-1 lead.
To finish off the evening and the Ducks, after a Claude Giroux faceoff win, Sean Couturier neatly wrangled in an Ivan Provorov pass and drained an empty-net goal from behind the blue line with just eight seconds remaining. Coots closed the book on the not-so-mighty Ducks, 4-1.
Carter Hart was superb throughout the entire sixty minutes. The Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada native recorded 40 saves, a .976 save percentage and earned himself the honor of First Star of the game. Hart showed off his superior agility and earned a win on the one-year anniversary of his recall from Lehigh Valley prior to his NHL debut on December 18, 2018.
There was simply no better way for the Flyers to honor their teammate as he was beginning one of the toughest battles of his life, then ending a three-game skid in front of 18,449 inspired hockey fans. The Flyers would go on to win four of their next five contests and begin to set a course for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What other games from the 2019-20 Flyers season will make the Top Flyte list? Keep a close eye on Philly Sports Network for more of the Top Flyte series as well as the most up-to-date Philadelphia Flyers news and information.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports