For the most part this season, Flyers games have tended to be ... slogs, we’ll put it. Outside of the first month or so of the season, in which it seemed like the team managed to make 5-4 losses a habit, the Flyers have found themselves typically losing games in grating fashion, struggling to pick up more than a goal or two. It can make things a bit of a struggle to watch on a regular basis.
Which is why the last week or so of Flyers hockey, as ultimately inconsequential as it will likely end up being, has been so refreshing to watch.
Two consecutive wins and a competitive overtime loss against the best team in hockey set the table for tonight in Buffalo, where the Flyers put together possibly their most prolific offensive performance of the season en route to a 6-3 win over the Sabres. With seven points in their last four games, the Flyers have done what they’ve had to in order to at least stay on the fringes of the playoff race.
The Flyers’ six goals tonight in Buffalo tied a season-high, a mark they’d reached twice before this season (once in October against Carolina, once in December against Edmonton). But tonight’s half-a-dozen came in a way we don’t see from the Flyers often: by way of 5-on-5 play.
Yes, all six of the Flyers’ goals tonight came at even strength, something they have not done all season. And not only that, but the scoring was spread across the lineup! Six different players in orange lit the KeyBank Center lamp tonight. And particularly looking at the forwards who scored, the Flyers were getting help from guys that they could really use it from right about now. Claude Giroux scored what seemed like his first goal in a while (13 games, to be exact), Travis Konecny scored his first in nearly two months, Matt Read scored his second since Halloween, and Jordan Weal scored his second NHL goal ever. And Chris VandeVelde and Radko Gudas (he of a three-point night!!!) also scored, which is just something you kind of come to not expect.
If you’re an optimist, you see that as a sign that maybe some of these guys just needed a good break to go their way and that maybe things will be better the rest of the season. (Of course, if you were an optimist, you probably aren’t a Flyers fan.)
Even defensively, though, the Flyers played a pretty solid game. Steve Mason wasn’t quite the white-hot goalie he’d been last week tonight, but he was perfectly fine, making some big stops before the Flyers opened the floodgates late in the second. The Flyers’ penalty kill got off to an uuuuuuugly start, allowing Buffalo to score almost immediately in two early power plays, but they too held down the fort the rest of the way outside of a few moments where Jack Eichel just decided to dunk on everyone. And at 5-on-5, the Flyers mostly snuffed out Buffalo’s offense until they’d taken a basically-insurmountable lead in the third period. Certainly good enough given how things were going at the other end of the night.
Was tonight just some good luck and a flash in the pan against a below-average team? Or a sign that this team, while still probably not making the playoffs, is not going to go down quietly? Guess we’ll find out soon enough. But the past week or so of Flyers hockey has been fun, which hasn’t been the case in a while, really. Let’s enjoy this while we can.
And on that note, before we go, a look at the standings. As of this writing (10:24 p.m. ET on Tuesday night) the Flyers sit two points behind Toronto for the final playoff spot in the East, with the same number of games played. The Islanders are playing (and beating) Edmonton right now and could jump one point ahead of Toronto with a win, while Florida and Tampa both sit exactly one point behind the Flyers. That’s five teams fighting for one playoff spot, all of whom are within three (maybe soon four) points of one another.
Everything’s a big mess. And it’s our big mess. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
With that, the Flyers will head to Toronto on Thursday night. Fairly important game, it may seem. Until then, here are highlights from all six — six! — goals are below for your viewing pleasure. Good night, folks, and go Flyers.
Score a goal ✅— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 8, 2017
Win the Game
Then the Stanley Cup pic.twitter.com/5n252oLkzM
CLAUDE GIROUXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX SCORESSSSS pic.twitter.com/k7GxbRkN66— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 8, 2017
MDZ needed some tinder matches tonight, so he scored this goal pic.twitter.com/XcQtyc0ooG— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 8, 2017