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 January 21, 2020 matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Any proper list comprised of the best Flyers games of the season would not be considered relevant if it did not include at least one matchup against the Penguins. The Battle of Pennsylvania consists of four games that the Flyers and their fans thoroughly highlight on their calendars every year. These games seem to bring about a playoff-style atmosphere every time the puck is dropped. The players just seem to be able to dig a little deeper, skate a little faster, and hit a little harder.
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, these two clubs battled only three times during the 2019-20 season. Their final contest, scheduled for March 29th at the Wells Fargo Center, was canceled.
On October 29, 2019, a night that never actually took place for most Flyer fans, the Pens embarrassed the orange and black by a score of 7-1 in Pittsburgh.
A few months later, on January 31, 2020, the Keystone State Rivalry took to the ice once again in the City of Bridges. This one required some overtime play but still ended in favor of the Pens, 4-3.
That brings us to January 21st of the brand-new decade and the final game for both clubs prior to the all-star break. Pittsburgh traveled east and were met with our finest Philadelphia hospitality once they hit the ice. Things would not get much better for them once they lined up at the center face-off circle.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers offense began to really tick. A little more than five minutes into the second, Jakub Voracek collected the puck in the neutral zone. After a dish to Joel Farabee on the opposite side of the rink, Voracek skated straight to the goal where he was reunited with the puck courtesy of a crisp Sean Couturier assist. Voracek made a sweet little move to his backhand and beat Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry to make it 1-0 good guys.
With 1:20 left in the period, James van Riemsdyk executed some textbook forechecking which turned into a Claude Giroux steal and the puck ending up on Travis Konecny’s stick. T.K. then connected with JVR who went five-hole on Jarry for his 14th goal of the season.
Justin Braun had himself a stellar performance against the Penguins. He collected three blocks and two hits on the evening and was a +1 in less than 18 minutes of playing time. Braun also potted an empty-net goal with a minute left in the contest to solidify the Flyers victory, 3-0.
Braun was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Flyers defense. This game was not pretty by any means but if there was one element of the Flyers play that stood out, it was their ability to shut down Pittsburgh. The Flyers held the Penguins to just 19 shots on goal and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to just three combined. Flyers goalie Brian Elliott stopped all 19 to collect his first shutout of 2019-20 and the 39th of his career. Moose was filling in for an injured Carter Hart.
Any win against your biggest rival is memorable. However, when you shut them out emphatically in your home barn, register your fourth win out of the last five games and create enough momentum to carry you through the all-star break, which is simply Top Flyte caliber.
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.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre
Contributor for the Flyers division at Philly Sports Network, graduate of York College of Pennsylvania and a fan of all things hockey. Follow me on Twitter @ChadWalkerPSN