It’s been three years since ‘playoff magic’ was truly felt surging around the streets of Philadelphia, but the Flyers are making believers out of us all down in Toronto. After an impressive win over the Bruins, the Flyers handed the Capitals a tasty 3-1 defeat to send them tied at the top of the round-robin tournament with the Lightning. One more win and the NHL’s hottest team (winning 11 of their last 12 games) secures the #1 seed. Anything less and they secure the second.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0-0
1. Philadelphia Flyers 2-0-0
3. Washington Capitals 0-1-1
4. Boston Bruins 0-2-0
The win over Washington was a significant one. Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless and the team were lethal in all phases. But like the fourth-line against Boston, there was one line in particular that stood out tonight.
Scott Laughton, who had 13 goals through 49 games this year, bagged two against the Capitals, while Travis Sanheim snuck in a third after what can only be described as wizardry from Kevin Hayes.
“It’s 4-on-4, so there’s a ton of ice there.” Hayes said after essentially turning into Lionel Messi on ice. “When you have a bunch of guys cris-crossing it makes it hard for the defenders to figure out who has who. One guy might want to switch but the other guy doesn’t, and all of a sudden there’s a guy open.”
Special teams are special
Special teams has a recent strength of the Flyers and it absolutely was again on Friday, keeping the Caps off the scoresheet on all four powerplay opportunities. Although the Flyers couldn’t convert on their 6, there were absolutely positives to take.
“I thought we had great zone entries, honestly.” Hayes explained. “We set up pretty much every power play. I think the biggest thing is just getting pucks to the net. Maybe a little bit too [much] perimeter play. The power play obviously didn’t score tonight, but I thought we entered the zone correctly and it’s something we can build off of.”
As for the star of the show, Laughton’s cerebral finishing on the ice was almost bottled up and put away for the game against Tampa Bay. When speaking with reporters after the game, Laughton was all about the team.
“I think it’s tough to build momentum when you’re away for three or four months.” The goalscorer said. “We had a really good training camp in Philly. I think the guys are confident in each other. We have a lot of guys who work really really hard. It’s easy to execute when you have guys moving their feet and staying over top of teams and making it hard on them. We picked up from our camp and continue to grow our game. We need to continue to do that. We’ve got to keep pushing forward here, but it’s been a good start for us and guys have definitely bought in and want to win for each other.”
Chemistry on that second line is clearly bursting from every angle right now. The production has been electric and it all stems from the bonds built between linemates. It’s something that Alain Vigneault picked up on too.
“They’re certainly, without a doubt, our best line at this moment.” AV said with pride. “I think offensively and defensively tonight, this was their best night. Good on the forecheck, which created some real good looks and we were able to capitalize… Hayesy made a great play on the 4-on-4 which opened up Travis (Sanheim), and there’s no doubt Scotty Laughton is putting himself in the right position to be real effective. I like that line right now, and I’m confident that it’s going to continue for us. “
The Flyers will be back in action against Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre