2020 sucked. The 2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers season was a rollercoaster ride that nobody was prepared for. From a training camp in September where a fresh feeling of change enveloped the atmosphere for the first time in many years, to a devastating cancer diagnosis that sent the team into a tail spin both on and off the ice. Then 2020 struck and the whole damn world fell apart. The hockey season was stopped in mid-March as Covid took over and it wasn’t until late July when they returned to the ice in the Toronto bubble. When we look back on 2020, there won’t be many bright spots, but the Flyers did provide a couple rays of light through the pit of darkness.
Number 5: Gritty being Gritty
Can you believe there was a time, even if it was only for a short while, where we didn’t like Gritty? The coked-out muppet reject with a murderous undertone rose to the occasion during the pandemic with his quarter-hour of power Instagram feature where he (it?) took on multiple internet challenges, played charades with members of the Flyers’ roster, and found other ways to put a smile on the fan’s faces even if it was just for 15 minutes a day. Gritty once again earned a few laughs when the team headed to Toronto without him, prompting Snuffleupagus’ forgotten problem child to make his own trek, though ending up in Toronto, Ohio instead. In fact, Gritty already got his own top five list on the site a few months back.
Number 4: The Nine Game Win Streak
After a season where the Flyers’ play ranged from spectacular to sub-par, the team finally got all their ducks in a row in the middle of February when they were able to string together nine straight wins. Starting with a critical home-and-home series with the Blue Jackets on February 18 and 20, they followed that up with another big home-and-home sweep against the Rangers the following week. The Flyers carried that momentum through March 10 when they finally took an L to the Boston Bruins in a hard-fought game. It’s a shame the season ended when it did, the Flyers had a very difficult stretch approaching when the season ended, as games against the Lightning, Oilers, Blues, and Stars would’ve tested the resilience of the team.
Number 3: Kevin Hayes
When Kevin Hayes first signed with the organization in the summer of 2019 the reaction from the fans was mixed to say the least. However when he took the ice for the 2019-20 season he quickly put his doubters to rest with his stellar play. His stat sheet was nothing overly out of the ordinary, posting 23 goals and 41 points, it was the life he brought to the team as well as his outstanding penalty killing ability that made the fans fall in line with him. He coined the phrase “Cahtah Haht” as well as the now-famous “I used to ref” line. Hayes ended up being a godsend to the organization that hasn’t had a player with that kind of personality in a hot minute.
Number 2: Second Round of the Playoffs
Never mind how the series ended up, the Philadelphia Flyers made the second round of the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2012. After Ron Hextall sold the fans a bill of goods in 2014 with a promised rebuild and eventual glory, the organization didn’t see an fruits of their labor until 2020 when they finally returned to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in eight years. While it wasn’t the ending everyone wanted, it was an actual building block that finally proved the Flyers are ready to rise to the occasion and be a competitive playoff team again.
Number 1: Oskar Lindblom’s Return
Oskar Lindblom was off to a fast start during the 2019-20 season. With 11 goals in 30 games to start the year, he was on pace to shatter his previous career high of 17. Then his cancer diagnosis shook the team and the entire NHL during December of 2019. With his future with the team thrown in doubt, he sat on the sidelines and faced the battle of his life at the Abramson Cancer Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Though, he was seemingly never far from the team. He made multiple visits to the Wells Fargo Center throughout his battle, earning a standing ovation from the crowd during the January 10 game against the Dallas Stars, and even showed up for team picture day. Lindblom eventually joined the team in the Toronto bubble and played his first game since since December 7 on September 3, 2020. It was a fairytale ending to an otherwise hellscape of a season for Lindblom and the Flyers and gave everyone hope for a better 2021.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com