Happy thanksgiving Flyers fans! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful day. While you’re all trying to avoid falling asleep at 7PM after a magnificent feast, here are 5 things fans should be thankful this year.
Carter Hart exists
How can you not be thankful for everything the 22-year-old goaltender has already brought to the Flyers? Just as you think he might hit a roadblock or enter new and uncharted waters with a steep learning curve, he saves 34/35 shots in his playoff debut like it’s nothing.
Hart went 24-13-3 in his first full NHL season after starting in 30 games last year. His GAA went down 0.4, (2.42), and his 91.4% save percentage speaks for itself.
Barring a shocking turn of events, the Flyers should be looking to retain Carter Hart for as long as humanly possible, with the first step of course being a pending contract extension. That in itself is something to be thankful for. After a goalie carousel that span around year after year, the ride has finally stopped and fans can sleep soundly at night knowing that their team has the brightest young goaltender in the entire league.
Oskar Lindblom’s journey has been inspiring beyond words. After a hot start to the season, the young Swede was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewings Sarcoma. About seven months later, Lindblom got to ring the bell after finishing his cancer treatments at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. He had beaten it.
If that wasn’t enough to make you emotional, Lindblom would be named as part of the roster that would travel to Toronto to partake in the NHL playoffs. He actually played in a crucial game 6 OT win against the Islanders. In 17:30 minutes of ice time recorded 3 shots, two hits, and blocked a shot. Remarkable.
After beating Ewings Sarcoma and continuing to lift up his teammates with his resiliency and selflessness, Lindblom is preparing for his full-time return to the Flyers. That statement is absolutely something we should all be thankful for.
AV’s cultural reset
It’s easy to forget just how different the Flyers looked as the Hakstol era came to a close and the Scott Gordon stage passed us by. A five-game losing streak saw them drop from playoff contention and despite Gordon having some clear positives as a coach, the team looked devoid of fight, grit, and production.
Enter Alain Vigneault. After bringing a long-term centerpiece who had previously thrived under his coaching in Kevin Hayes, AV set about building on the Flyers’ strengths while the front office enjoyed a masterful offseason.
Whether it was Hayes’ leadership on the ice and playful nature off of it, or AV’s ‘Be a F**in Flyer’ statement, the team were injected with a sense of purpose, belief, and direction that had been drained from them previously. This team always had potential. The youth movement previously instilled just needed the right environment to thrive and that’s exactly what Vigneault provided.
The 2020 season may have ended in disappointment and frustration, but this team took a huge step – one bigger than most anticipated they would be able to make in such a short space of time.
A youthful foundation
Leading directly on from that, the Flyers have an extremely fun core to build around. The next 5-10 years could well be some of the most exciting in franchise history. Whether it’s the rise of Carter Hart, or the continued shining of players like Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. the Flyers have a dangerous group of young players who haven’t even come close to hitting their peak yet.
If this team looks threatening now, just imagine where it could be in a few years.
This is a bit of a wildcard, but I feel like Giroux really doesn’t get the respect he deserves. The captain of the ship has given us plenty of iconic memories over the years, has been a mainstay through the bad times and consistently produced at a high-level. But you don’t see him mentioned in the same conversations as other elite forwards, despite the fact he can go stride-for-stride with most from a statistical standpoint.
He’s not in your top-10 lists. He’s not on the flashy highlight reels. In fact, Giroux and his 6x all-star appearances might end up being one of the most under-appreciated athletes in Philadelphia sports history.
You often don’t know what you have until it’s gone. So here’s to you, Claude Giroux.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre