By Ryan Waterman
🎵🎵 Whoa, we're halfway there! Whoa, livin' on a prayer! Take my hand, we'll make it, I swear. Whoa, livin' on a prayer. 🎵🎵
Philadelphia, it's time to get loud! Game six is headed back your way, with the chance to force an improbable game seven. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's recap how we got to this point.
The storm hit the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Friday Night, but a period later than expected. For the first 20:00 of Friday night's battle, the Orange and Black dominated the ice, entering the locker room with a 1-0 lead behind a late rocket from the Captain, Claude Giroux. The atmosphere given off by the Flyers in tonight's first period was that of a much different team than we've seen the past two games. They were physical, they applied pressure, they were crisp, and most importantly -- they played with the mentality of "one game at a time."
Things got quite dicey in the second period, as the Pens stormed back with authority, scoring a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead. The momentum had shifted, but the Flyers didn't quit, they were just seemingly outplayed. That was, until Valtteri Filppula, of all people, netted the tying goal -- a short-handed goal, nonetheless. For the first time this series, the Flyers showed serious push-back in the face of adversity. This team felt like a much different team than game's past. They felt hungry, they appeared to want it more. It was a tale of two teams.
Entering the third period, this had the feel of a heavyweight fight. The deciding round was upcoming, and the scorecard sat at a 5-5 split, with a draw in the 11th round. Philly and Pittsburgh took the ice to duke it out in the final period, the Flyers looking to survive, the Pens looking to advance. It was a hard-hitting, nail-biting, nerve-wracking period that saw its' share of moments from both teams. It looked like we're were headed for an extra period, until our conquering-hero, the returning Sean Couturier blasted home the game-winner with about 75 seconds remaining. Matt Read put this contest on ice with an empty-netter to put the Fly-Guys up 4-2 for good, forcing this series back to the Wells Fargo Center.
The significance of this win cannot be understated, as this series seemingly sits in the Flyers' palm right now. All series, game one withstanding, they've been road warriors. They took two out of three in Pittsburgh, which is incredible. Now, they head back home, where thing's haven't exactly gone their way, getting outscored 10-1 in two games. The recipe for success, as pointed out on tonight's Flyers Postgame Live (on NBC Sports Philly) is to simply keep the crowd rowdy. In both home games, the second the Penguins scored the first-goal, the air just flew out of the Fargo. It's vital for the Flyers to score first on Sunday, if there's any hope of forcing game seven. Score first, apply the pressure, and let the chips fall where they may.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, though, they may be without a crucial piece come Sunday, as defenseman Ivan Provorov left tonight's game, late in the third period in pain. Should Provorov, undoubtedly the team's best defender this season, miss Sunday's contest, it would be a devastating blow to the Flyers chances. Shayne Gostisbehere will immediately fill-in as their top defender, but the team would seemingly lack that lock-down stalwart defender. One would imagine that little changes in the Flyers' projected lines for game six, although the question should Provorov sit will immediately become -- Travis Sanheim or Johnny Oduya? Does Dave Hakstol roll out the youth, size, and speed with a positive track record this series, or the seasoned, Cup-winning playoff vet?
Regardless, this win was monumental. The Flyers seem to be feeling comfortable after tonight's win, and with nothing to really lose, that could be a dangerous thing for the Penguins. They'll be back at it on Sunday, as the Flyers look to send this series back to their home away from home -- the PPG Paints Arena. No matter the outcome of Sunday's game, this has been a fun team to watch this season, despite the frustrations we all share. Let's hope the good times continue to roll!
It wasn't long ago that the idea of the Philadelphia Flyers making the postseason was nothing more than a pipe dream. Flashing back to their final game of 2017, the Flyers sat a 16-14-8, a mark that made the playoffs seem almost impossible. However, a masterful 26-12-6 performance in 2018 secured them a spot. It didn't come easy, though, as the Flyers at one point were the lead dog in the Metropolitan Division, perhaps a hollow statement, given that the rest of the division were playing below their level of expectation. This essential gave the Flyers faithful a false sense of hope, as they began to believe that this team could actually make a run. Those hopes, for some, were shattered when the Flyers mediocre March performance left them with a seven-game date with cross-state rival, and two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game One was a sick punch to the gut, as the Flyers were mortified in enemy territory to the tune of a 7-0 thrashing. They were outplayed, outcoached, and the atmosphere seemingly rattled the majority of the team. Once again, they took the ice at PPG Paints Arena, but the narrative was much different in Game Two. Philly managed to weather the storm, draw first blood, and keep their foot on the throat of the Pens. It looked as though the Orange and Black had all of the momentum heading back home to Philadelphia, in front of what was sure to be a blood-thirsty crowd. The latter end of that statement was true, but the former couldn't have been anymore wrong. Over the course of Games Three & Four, the Flyers put forth a pair of embarrassing efforts, getting outscored 10-1. If you're to ask this writer, their problem was simple -- the team never showed up, as they relied on the crowd to carry them to victory, as they already had their eyes set up shutting this series down in Pittsburgh.
While the series can be shutdown in the 'Burgh tonight, it's the battle-tested, playoff-experienced, grizzled Pens that have the chance to put the death blow in the season of Dave Hakstol's team. For the first time this series, the Flyers are facing a mentality that may actually be their new best friend -- one game at a time. That's right, the Flyers now are forced to take this series one game at a time. No longer can they look ahead to the next night, or carry around the belief that "we'll get 'em next game." Tonight's simply about "living to fight another day."
For the majority of this series, it's been the Young Lions' opportunity to shine. Travis Konecny, Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Sean Couturier, and most recently, Nolan Patrick have all take the proverbial ball, and run with it. Facing a fair level of uncertainty for the first time in their young careers, it's time for the veterans to show up, and take the kids under their wings. MVP candidate Claude Giroux has been virtually non-existent this series, as has Jake Voracek. Wayne Simmonds, who was once a postseason hero, has seemingly disappeared from the ice, sans his impressive shot on Sidney Crosby back in Game Four. It's time for this team to face the reality that if their veteran leadership doesn't begin to show some level of production, they stand virtually no chance. I say virtually no chance, because the offense isn't the only aspect of this team that can win them this series.
This past offseason, the Flyers made a low-risk move in signing veteran goaltender Brian Elliot. The 33-year-old Ontario-native has never been able to establish himself as a workhorse number-one goalie, but has still put together elite production. His time with the St Louis Blues is what truly put him on the map, as he put together a 104-46-16 record with a 2.01 GAA in five seasons, including a pair of seasons with a GAA under 2.00. Hakstol and Co. expected stellar production from Elliott, and he didn't necessarily disappoint. A stat line of 23-11-7 with a 2.66 GAA definitely qualifies as stellar, but missing nearly two months of the season put a massive asterik next to his stat line. His return between the pipes was supposed to signify somewhat of a stable presence in net. Instead, Elliott's allowed 14 goals on 97 shots, for a 4.75 GAA. He's been pulled twice, once for midseason-acquisition Petr Mrazek, and most recently for Michal Neuvirth, who also returned from injury that derailed his season. Having allowed 18 goals this series, it's clear that the Flyers goaltending has been a massive issue. Elliott's clearly shown that he's not the answer, but it's fair to ask if any are? For the Flyer's sake, they need one of the three to become the answer -- otherwise, they're fighting an uphill battle against elimination.
Could tonight be the end for the Philadelphia Flyers season? Absolutely, it could. Down two games, entering enemy territory? Yeah, that's a recipe for the end. Was Game Two simply a mirage, or did the Flyers figure out a way to answer the Pittsburgh Puzzle, possibly sending this series back to Philadelphia? Those questions are still hours away from being answered, but one thing is for certain. If the Flyers want any chance of survival, they need to take it "one game at a time," and focus on tonight's outing.
By Eric Jacinto
The Philadelphia Flyers, yesterday afternoon just needed one point to clinch a playoff spot and they did just that by beating the New York Rangers, 5-0 in the last game of the regular season at home. With the win the Flyers, finish third in the Metropolitan division, which wasn't determine until late Saturday night when both the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets both lost. Since the Flyers finish in third, they will be playing the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions and their in-state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2018 NHL Playoffs. The playoffs are set to start this Wednesday; game one still yet to be determine.
The last time the Flyers and Penguins met in the playoffs was 2012 when the Flyers beat them in six games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. This is probably one of the most bitter rivalries in the NHL if not the most bitter because it's an in-state rivalry and the just hatred between the two teams and the fanbases.
Here's a video of the brawl they had in the 2012 playoffs that's how much hatred these two teams have for one another. I will post my predictions when I do my NHL playoff Predictions either Monday or Tuesday depending when the playoff schedule comes out which probably be no later then Monday.
You better believe this series will have the most drama to it and I love it BRING on SIDNEY CRYABY AND Those Pittsburgh PENGUINS! WE HATE THE PENGUINS! WE HATE SIDNEY CRYBABY CROSBY! WE HATE CRYBABIES IN GENERAL!