A couple of Sundays ago, we watched nearly the best case scenario for the Flyers. Despite showing some signs of rust, the Flyers came out with an impressive 4-1 victory over the President’s Trophy winning Boston Bruins on Sunday. Not only did they come out with the win, but we watched some crucial x-factors unfold. The bottom six produced at a high level, Carter Hart showed signs of veteran-like poise between the pipes, and the young defensive core led the way as well.
The Flyers looked like a team trying to prove something to not only the NHL, but their fans as well. They came out with an edge, and showed how well they could play heading into these playoffs. Looking to get better seeding, Philadelphia simply outplayed and dominated the Bruins. They then carried this momentum against both the Capitalsand Lighting, going 3-0-0 in the bubble.
This momentum would only carry into the first round of the playoffs as well. Montreal may have dominated the middle period, but the Flyers controlled the beginning and end of that game. Philadelphia, with the help of Jake Voracek and Joel Farabee, took a 2-1 game one victory. With game two looming today at 3 P.M., the Flyers aim to take full control of this seven game series.
Coverage will begin at 2:30 PM on NBC Sports, with puck drop slated for 3 PM. The Flyers are currently -165 favorites with the over/under set at 5.5 goals.
Prayers for Claude
Montreal Canadiens’ head coach Claude Julien as admitted to a Toronto hospital after experiencing chest pains following his team’s game on Wednesday night. There is no signs that are showing it is COVID-19 related, but Julien will miss the remainder of the series. Kirk Muller will assume head-coaching duties for the rest of the first round as well.
Everyone around the league should be praying for the veteran head coach. After leading the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011, this could be a huge loss for the Habs. More importantly, though, his health should be priority and we are all hoping he is okay.
Flyers to watch:
Something that may not be easy for the casual fan to catch is just how well the Flyers are playing defensively. In each counter attack, or even simply in then neutral zone, every Flyers’ defender looks the exact same. Each blue liner keeps their hips square, but their shoulders pointed outwards. This allows them to keep the opposition in front of them and square, while also allowing them to pivot and sweep any pass that may go to the sides of them.
Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers are the best two at doing this. Each of them displays such a large frame and poise. Their long reaches allows them to keep opponents in front of them, which leads to more blocked shots and turnovers. If you are wondering why they seem to be very offensive minded d-men, it’s partially because they constantly break up plays in the neutral zone. This ultimately allows them to easily join the play with the weak side winger to create odd man rushes.
If you are to get anything out of this defensive ramble, it’s to keep an eye on all of the Flyers’ defenders. Each one of them does this so textbook. By not giving the Canadiens any time or space and not giving them the line, the Flyers’ ultimate make the Habs collapse and go into dump and chase mode. This is crucial, and something that is really entertaining to watch as the team will get “harder” opponents moving forward if they win the first round. The scoring will come, but only because of these amazing breakouts and neutral zone wins that start with the defenders.
Like I mentioned in the game one preview, if there is one thing that Philly fans do, it’s that they get overly confident based upon a small sample size. Whether it be the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, or Flyers, fans constantly give these teams the benefit of the doubt, whether they deserve it or not. However, the Flyers finally deserve this recognition. They have battled hard this season and have overcome a lot of adversity.
This game has more confidence gleaming over the Flyers than the round robin. Unlike the top teams the Flyers had to beat, the Habs have shown signs of weakness during nearly the entire regular season. Only beating the Flyers one time this season as mentioned earlier, Montreal does not seem to match up well.
The Flyers have proven to hockey fans and experts everywhere that they should be heavily favored in this series. Montreal showed their great defensive depth in the qualifying round and in game one, so scoring may be limited again in this one. Chalk up a Flyers’ fifth straight win in a 4-2 game.
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports