Finally, hockey has returned! Each of the 24 teams can ease into the playoff pace with an exhibition game. At 4 pm EST, the Philadelphia Flyers face their interstate rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Afterward, things are different between the Flyers and the majority of the playoff field. In the round-robin tournament, Philadelphia has to improve seeding against three different teams. The Penguins will only have to focus on their play-in opponents, the Montreal Canadiens.
“Other teams have to still fight their way in. We’re in. It’s going to be nice to get going in those rounds. The round-robin is pretty [big] advantage for us because we can move up in the standings and get a better seed.”Sean Couturier; 7/27/2020
Being a top-four team in your conference has perks. The Philadelphia Flyers have four games to play before any elimination implications, including the exhibition game. Sean Couturier sees the round-robin games as an advantage to get up to speed and control their destiny. The pressure is off the Flyers’ minds for just a little bit longer than a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. Two weeks from now is the main focus for Philadelphia.
“We put ourselves in a good position, so we’re lucky to have those four games here to see what it’s going to be like. As opposed to some teams that get one exhibition game and then have to fight for their lives to get into the postseason.”Carter Hart; 7/27/2020
Getting acclimated to a fan-free environment is vital for goaltenders. Carter Hart has notably fed off of the home environment in Philadelphia. An ability to keep a composed mindset and focus is what we are looking for from Hart. That was stressed upon by Brian Elliott. The Philadelphia Flyers are very fortunate to have an exhibition game to give Hart some trial minutes, especially after his back spasms in training camp last week.
“It’s a rivalry so emotions are probably going to get high. Can’t ask for a better way to get back into it, especially going into the playoffs. I kind of like that.”Sean Couturier; 7/27/2020
Speaking of Brian Elliott, he foreshadowed that this exhibition game will not be a game where the Philadelphia Flyers play on their heels. Expect the Flyers to come out hot. Teams want to get back into the groove of playing hockey as soon as possible. Sean Couturier is salivating about playing a rivalry team. It is the perfect antidote to a pandemic pause, and may just spark new-found energy for the Flyers playoff run.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre