The rapid spread of the coronavirus has put a halt to life as we know it. Countries have are on lockdown. All non-essential facilities have closed. The highly contagious illness has caused the cancellation or postponements of conferences, concerts, and sports leagues, with the NHL being just one of many leagues to immediately cease their season.
While it is certainly the correct decision to pause the season while in the midst of a global pandemic, the absence of hockey, especially when the Philadelphia Flyers were the hottest team in the NHL before the stoppage, is incredibly disappointing. Since we have no new Flyers news, and since it’s possible the league may choose to skip straight to the playoffs when it is safe to play hockey again, let’s take a look back at what could be the last six regular season games of the Flyers’ 2019-20 season.
Coming into this stretch of games, the Philadelphia Flyers were playing great hockey. They had cemented themselves as the best team in the city, and showed that they deserved to be in the playoff conversation. Not only that, but the Orange and Black were finally beginning to get the recognition they deserved for their incredible play, as they rocketed up rankings charts and were even given the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. The Flyers weren’t just playing to get into the playoffs as they have in years’ past – they were fighting for the division crown, and home ice in the playoffs.
Safe to say, if the season wasn’t abruptly stopped, the Flyers would be sitting atop the Metropolitan Division.
Games 64-69 (home games underlined):
- 5-2 W vs. NY Rangers
- 5-3 W at NY Rangers
- 5-2 W at Washington
- 4-1 W vs. Carolina
- 3-1 W vs. Buffalo
- 2-0 L vs. Boston
Philadelphia continued their impressive play, going 5-1-0 and extending their win streak to 9 games before their shutout loss to the Bruins. In a back-to-back home-and-home with the Rangers, Philadelphia manhandled the Blueshirts in both games, suffocating them in all areas of the ice. The followed this up with strong performances against Washington and Carolina, two division rivals who are also in the playoff hunt. Though they nabbed the win against a lowly Buffalo squad, the Orange and Black delivered a clunker, and only picked up two points thanks to phenomenal performances from Claude Giroux and Carter Hart. They rebounded by playing well against Boston, a Cup favorite, but were shutout in the home loss.
Some More Observations:
- Claude Giroux continued to shine in these games. The Captain went on a tear, scoring at a point per game pace with 4 goals and 2 assists. His most impressive moment was a nifty backhand goal against Buffalo that gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
- James van Riemsdyk broke his right hand whilst blocking a shot against the Washington Capitals, and is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks. Had the season continued as normal, this would have spelled the end of JvR’s regular season and he wouldn’t return till sometime in Round 1. However, with the playoff schedule being up in the air, it’s possible that JvR could be in the lineup for Game 1.
- As a result of van Riemsdyk’s unfortunate hand injury, Joel Farabee was called up from Lehigh Valley. He had 1 goal, a great five-hole shot, in 3 appearances.
- Nicolas Aube-Kubel continues to shine in the bottom-six. The 2014 second round pick has excelled on a line with Michael Raffl and Nate Thompson. In the past six games, NAK recorded 4 points (1g-3a). Aube-Kubel has certainly cemented his spot in the lineup for the forseeable future with his strong play.
- Against the Sabres, Phil Myers took a shot to his leg that saw him leave the ice for a few minutes, but then return. However, shortly before the match against the Bruins, the team announced that Myers suffered a fractured patella, and would be out for approximately four weeks. Since the season is on hold until further notice, it’s possible that Myers would be able to return for playoffs, whenever they are scheduled.
- Ivan Provorov continues to showcase why he’s the Flyers’ best defenseman. Over the past six games, the prized Russian blueliner recorded 2 goals and 3 assists while also averaging about 24:24 minutes of ice time per game. Paired with Matt Niskanen, Provy has allowed his offense to flourish, and currently leads the NHL in powerplay goals.
- GM Chuck Fletcher announced that he has signed prospect Wyatte Wylie to an entry-level contract. Wylie was drafted in the 5th round in 2018, and currently plays in the WHL for the Everett Silvertips (which, you may remember, is the team Carter Hart played for during his junior career). Congratulations Wyatte!
- Carter Hart was a brick wall during these games. The young goaltender hit his stride, starting five of the six games in this period. Hart was excellent, posting a .937 SV%. His best game was against the Sabres, in which he was undoubtedly the best player on the ice that night. Hopefully when the season resumes, Hart can keep up his amazing play.
- Brian Elliott received only one start due to Hart’s stellar play. In his lone appearance, the 5-2 win against the Capitals, Moose made 23 saves on 25 shots, good for a .926 SV%.
Up next for the Flyers: Unfortunately, we won’t know what’s in the store for the Flyers for the rest of the season yet until the coronavirus pandemic begins to slow down, which it hasn’t yet. We do know that the NHL and the NHLPA are actively in talks about how to resume the season when the time comes, but nothing has been decided yet. In the meantime, stay indoors, wash your hands, and stay safe!
Image credit to Len Redkoles. Stats courtesy of NHL.com.