The Flyers Week in Review for April 26. Your source for all things Orange and Black.
The Flyers came into this past week trailing 2-0 against the Washington Capitals in round one of the playoffs. Their performance up to that point could best be described as anemic. They had just gone scoreless in eight chances on the power play, and only managed one regular-strength goal in the two games against Caps star goalie Braden Holtby. Things were looking bleak, but as often is the case, the darkest hour often comes just before the dawn.
Monday: Game 3- LOSS – “Lit up”
The evening began with an emotional tribute to Flyers founder and Chairman, the late Ed Snider, followed by a brilliant rendition of God Bless America by Lauren Hart (wearing an orange Snider jersey, by the way). And if that wasn’t enough, Michael Raffl cranked the electricity up several megawatts more by scoring in the first minute of the game. You might have thought that all of this would have been enough to inspire the team on to a much needed home win. But Washington was neither intimidated nor impressed. Their stars (Alexander Ovechkin, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom) played like, well uh, stars, and the Capitals went on to light up the Orange and Black 6-1.
In addition, late in the third period, a number of knucklehead fans, frustrated with the officiating (and maybe with the Flyers lackluster performance as well) hurled light-up bracelets onto the ice. So an evening that had been dedicated to the memory of the classy Ed Snider was short-circuited by a totally classless display that, were he still alive, would have embarrassed and disgusted the man who was being honored. The Flyers now trailed in the series 3-0, and it looked like the lights were about to be turned out and the party was about to be over.
Wednesday: Game 4 – WIN – “Good behavior rewarded”
The Flyers had just given up seven huge power play goals in eleven chances in games two and three. However, on this night the Capitals ended up with only two power plays for the entire contest, and as a result, Philadelphia hung on for a surprising victory, 2-1. After the game, Wayne Simmonds summed it up:
“I think if you look at the series, five-on-five, it’s been pretty much even. They’ve been getting the majority of the power plays and they’ve been scoring.”
The Flyers now trailed in the series 3-1. The lights weren’t being turned off just yet.
Friday: Game 5 – WIN – “Wait, what?”
When an inferior team gets outshot by a superior team 44-11, there is every expectation that a loss for the inferior team is inevitable. That is precisely what happened to the Flyers on Friday night, all except for the loss part. Thanks to the unbelievable goaltending of Michal Neuvirth, the Flyers squeaked out a 2-0 win in Washington, and now trailed in the series 3-2. My vote for all three stars in this game would have been Michal Neuvirth. If ever a goalie deserved the tired but descriptive hockey cliché “He stood on his head”, it would have been Neuvirth in this game. So the Flyers now trailed in the series 3-2. Uh-oh. Did you smell that? I believe it might have been the ugly odor of nervous perspiration coming from the Caps locker room. Or maybe not.
Sunday: Game 6 – LOSS – “The Fat Lady Finally Sings”
Michal Neuvirth was as close to perfect as a goalie could be facing 126 shots in the series and giving up only 2 goals. Unfortunately one of those goals came off the stick of AO in game six, and that lone goal was enough to earn a victory in both this game and the series. Final score- Capitals 1, Flyers 0.
More Flyers: Lou Nolan – The Classiest PA Announcer Around
Five Things We Learned From This Playoff Series
- The Flyers far exceeded expectations. When the season began, they were projected by most experts to miss the playoffs. And for the first two-thirds of the season they lived up (or in this case down) to those expectations. But the way they played in the final third of the season, and then in this playoff series, they really showed us something. And as an added bonus, their young players got valuable playoff experience.
- Michal Neuvirth played like a legitimate big-time star goalie when he got his chance. The Flyers never would have won games four or five without his amazing play. And he came very close to stealing game six for them as well.
- The team needs more firepower. There will be times like this series when the big guns like Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek come up small. (The team went 1 for 24 on the power play). There has to be other players who can take up the slack.
- While his first NHL playoffs were a learning experience for him, Dave Hakstol proved he has the coaching chops to excel in the NHL. One of the big reasons the Flyers exceeded expectations this year was Hakstol’s steady hand at the rudder. He certainly got the most out of some limited talent, and should be applauded by Flyers fans for a job well done.
- Despite the frustration of losing this series, the future still looks bright for the Flyers. There is a ton of young talent waiting in the wings, and GM Ron Hextall has demonstrated that he has a solid plan in place. Losing to the Capitals was tough, but if we look at the big picture, the future may very well be dawning brightly very soon.