The Flyers come out of the round-robin undefeated and untainted as the undisputed #1 seed going into the Stanley Cup playoffs. This comes on the back of a dominant 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, where once again, an unexpected hero emerged – Nic Aube-Kubel.
This time, it was Nic Aube-Kubel. After spending five years with the Phantoms, he finally got a call-up to the NHL after a brief stint in 2018. The 24-year-old had been flourishing down at Lehigh Valley, taking on a new role that not only benefited his play, but made him fit that much better into the Flyers’ system.
It didn’t take long for ‘NAK’ to make an impact. His 15 points (7g, 8a) in 36 games for the orange and black (.41 points per game) this year very respectable for a fourth-liner. After making the playoff roster, his momentum only surged upward.
Nic Aube-Kubel opened the scoring in the first period and would strike again just seven minutes later to not only give the Flyers a two-goal lead, but to tally his first carer multi-goal effort in the NHL. But for the young RW, it’s the team that give him that confidence boost as opposed to individual play.
I feel like I played well the two previous games, skating hard and finishing hits. The team result is what makes me confident.
Aube-Kubel & the road to redemption
NAK’s mentality all stems from his first opportunity at cracking the roster. He only saw 9 games for the Flyers and failed to amass a point before rallying to 30 on the Phantoms. He spent the year under-the-radar, rebuilding his confidence and preparing for his next opportunity.
I didn’t really get my chance the year before. I got called up, but didn’t play much, I was ready out of camp. Other guys had a better camp than me, so just battling to get that call-up. It’s hard to have confidence in the American League. It’s such a hard league to play in. I was just waiting for my call-up. I was ready when the time came.
He’s certainly done anything but squander it. The winger is playing with a new-found tenacity and is firing on all cylinders, giving the Flyers even more production from places they’d least expect. In terms of a complete performance, NAK is finding his rhythm quickly this postseason.
His time on ice has improved in each of the three playoff games he’s appeared in so far and he’s had at least 3 hits in each matchup. The physicality is keeping the intensity rolling for Philadelphia, even when their bigger bodies are off the ice. It was something he noted when looking back on his excellent outing against the Lightning.
I thought they were a little more physical in the season, I don’t know if because they were missing some guys or whatever. I think we were one step ahead on that side. Skating more physical.
NAK will look to continue to bring physicality to the table when they open their Stanley Cup bid. If he can keep that form up, there’s no reason he can’t be one of the real tone-setters in the depths of a seven-game series.
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports