Playoff hockey is officially underway in 2020. The first game of these playoffs featured the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes. Look no further than the first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs for a barometer of physicality. Momentum and pace are vital resources that contribute to winning in the postseason. Teams that play with the most intensity are likely to have a deep playoff run.
A few weeks ago, we spoke with Brian Elliott about the Philadelphia Flyers intensity. He said he expected the Flyers to go “all-out” against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the exhibition game. Philadelphia dictated the pace and defeated the Penguins in overtime. If the Flyers are playing with that sort of urgency in an exhibition game, imagine the round-robin. The Boston Bruins should expect a physical brand of hockey from Philadelphia, especially for playoff seeding implications.
Bruce Cassidy said he “doesn’t expect it to be an intense game.” Any other playoff team is not going to buy into the idea that a game with seeding implications will not be intense. Philadelphia Flyers’ assistant coach, Mike Yeo, knows better. This game is about building on the momentum from a rivalry win. The Flyers need to keep their stride against the Boston Bruins.
“If we want to be playing our best hockey when the puck drops for Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, then we need to bring that intensity and that emotion. We need to start finding it tomorrow.“Mike Yeo; 8/1/2020
What is wonderful about the Philadelphia Flyers is that they do not have laurels to rest on. On Alain Vigneault’s watch, the Flyers improved to become a top playoff team after missing the postseason altogether last season. There are so many different factors that keep Philadelphia hungry for the Stanley Cup. Though the playoffs have officially just begun, the “no crowd” narrative is old. This locker room is locked-in on a championship run.
“There’s still intensity. There’s still emotion. The players are certainly up for those games. I feel it’s going to be the same thing. Got a chance to watch some playoff hockey today, some of the play-in games. There’s intensity. You can see it right from the drop of the puck.“Mike Yeo; 8/1/2020
In the exhibition game, Robert Hagg and Justin Braun were healthy scratches. This provided an opportunity for the Philadelphia Flyers coaching staff to get a better look at Mark Friedman, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Yegor Zamula. The third pairing of defensemen will likely boil down to matchups on a team-to-team basis. That will keep defensemen fresh. Against the Boston Bruins, I would expect to see the normal third pairing of Hagg and Braun return.
“Obviously this is what we are going with tomorrow, but we are going to use this opportunity and these games to evaluate the players and figure out what we need moving forward.”Mike Yeo; 8/1/2020
Regarding Shayne Gostisbehere, he had a fine performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s still targeted as the Philadelphia Flyers’ seventh defenseman, but he showed he could contribute against a formidable opponent. His one assist and plus-one performance may have earned him some more playing time in the round-robin. It’s common knowledge that he is feeling as healthy as he did in 2017-2018. Could Gostisbehere play a vital role in a defensive game of chess throughout the playoffs?
“In a perfect world, we will get everybody in. We’ll get everybody in more often. I can say that we’ve obviously discussed these things, but I also think we have to be pretty fluid with our plan moving forward. Our goal is to try to identify the group that is going to give us the best chance to win Game One as well as make sure everybody is prepared, whether that’s the guys that are in that game or guys that factor in later in the series or deeper in the playoffs.“Mike Yeo; 8/1/2020
Mandatory Credit – © Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Eric is a University of Delaware graduate with a degree in English. While in school, he began writing for different publications such as The Highlight Network, Amps and Greenscreens, and he did color commentary for the University of Delaware Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams throughout the 2013 season as an alumni. Prior to being featured with Philly Sports Network, he began a pro-wrestling podcast with a childhood friend called the Totally Over Podcast. As an avid sports die-hard for all things Philadelphia, Eric is also a proud supporter of West Virginia University.