The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off a tough season where they finished 6th in their division, tied for their worst finish since they moved into the Metropolitan Division. They missed the playoffs in the 2016-17 season but got very lucky in the draft lottery, moving up 12 spots and receiving the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Ron Hextall and his crew selected Nolan Patrick out of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Patrick was originally projected as the 1st overall pick and a day 1 NHL player, but was held back by nagging complications with a previous sports hernia surgery during his final year in the WHL. Despite playing only 33 games in his draft year, the Brandon Wheat Kings captain was selected 2nd overall by the Flyers. Patrick made the team out of camp and joined a young Flyers roster alongside Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. This mix of youth and veteran standouts, like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, put Philly in a strong position to fight for playoff spot. Now in his 3rd year as an NHL head coach, Dave Hakstol is hoping to take his postseason success from the University of North Dakota to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the Broad Street Bullies claimed the cup in back-to-back years in 1974 and 75’. The Flyers ended up clinching the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a huge victory over the New York Rangers, partially because of Claude Giroux’s hat trick that pushed him to the 100+ point mark for the 1st time in his 10 year career. However, due to how everything played out, the Flyers have to face the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Hopefully for the Philly fans, the playoff success of Villanova’s Mens Basketball Team and the Philadelphia Eagles will rub off a little and they can get past playoff form Matt Murray and the rest of the Pens squad. The Battle of Pennsylvania will definitely have huge impact on the rest of the playoffs and the Flyers chances seemed to have been almost silenced after a 7-0 game 1 loss to Pittsburgh.
The new look Flyers have suffered a lot due to the lack of a strong goalie in recent years, and there is no difference now. Goaltending could very well be the killer for Philly, especially facing a playoff performer like 23 year old Matt Murray. Murray is sitting on a SV% of .937 and GAA of 1.70 from his 11 games during the Pens 2017 cup run, so Philly is going to need a lot more production than just their top 2 forward lines. The Flyers were able to overtake the Penguins in Game 2 because of Brian Elliott playing great but fell to Pittsburgh in Game 3 after a strong Matt Murray performance. The young Flyers are going to need even more going forward from their young defense (an average age of 25). Through 3 games, the defense has contributed for 3 of the Flyers 6 goals. More importantly, the defense needs to step up defensively against Sidney Crosby who has 7 points. The (Less) Broad Street Bullies also need to spend less time in the box and be more disciplined, as they’ve acquired 46 penalty minutes in 3 games. The Flyers took the 3rd least penalties this season and were 10th in the league in penalty kill % but they seem to have forgotten that they are facing the number 1 power play in the league. Pittsburgh went 26.2% on the PP this season and. The Flyers need to return to playing disciplined hockey if they want to push this series. If they can do that, Philadelphia can pull off the upset and make their way to the 2nd round versus Columbus or Washington. The Claude Giroux led Flyers are underdogs in the series and the rest of the playoffs but don’t let them get hot, they like streaking.