For reasons I cannot articulate or even attempt to understand, our Philadelphia Flyers have won eight in a row.
You know, there’s something to be said about confidence, a word that the Flyers have been throwing around quite a bit lately as a way to explain their improbable streak of wins. I have long said (you can check me on this) that I thought a major issue with the Flyers, beyond shoddy goaltending, was confidence. Sometimes, you need a little bit of a boost. I cannot fault anyone for that.
My advice to anyone who truly wants to see this team go to the playoffs (not sure if I relate) is to go out there and yell some nice things at them as they are eating a nice meal with their significant others, especially if their kids are there. Stand in front of their table at a swanky Rittenhouse place and yell encouragements at top volume. Make everyone around you deeply uncomfortable. You are only doing your duty as a fan, and you should be respected as the hero that you are. When someone issues a cease-and-desist, you have a solid defense in court. You just love them very much, and want to see them succeed! Who can argue with that reasoning?
Clearly, the Flyers appreciate your efforts, because they have won eight goddamn games in a row. It’s more than just improbable, it’s downright insane. I feel unhinged.
future husband [holding our newborn child]: isn't this the best thing you've ever seen— Namita (@nnstats) February 5, 2019
me [thinking about Carter Hart]: it's up there for sure
It did not take long for this game to feel achingly familiar, like a relic of some recent past; the Flyers struggled early, coughing up the puck far too often and failing to generate promising chances. Nothing to worry about here—in fact, it just felt right, and I love a good consistent performance, even if that consistency is “consistently underwhelming.”
It’s true that I am not being entirely fair here. I can recognize that. I am only human and biased to a fault. “But Emily, they’ve won seven games in a row.” Absolutely, and that is just fantastic, and cool, and very normal and exactly what we all knew would happen. “But Emily, they’re only seven points out of a playoff position.” You are correct, they are, and it is both thrilling and wildly absurd and also beyond cruel of them. You know what would be a patented Philadelphia Flyers™ move? Going from last in the league, performing abysmally, and then climbing their way up to a wildcard position, only to lose it by like one point or something. Haven’t you thought about it? Hasn’t it crossed your mind? I almost went into goddamn cardiac arrest when I saw the standings. What kind of bullshit is this? Do they think this is funny? Do they think this is a joke? Do they think I am a joke? They cannot get away with this. I refuse to let them do this to me. I was ready to cash it in on this season. I was ready to lay back and watch the tank and smile to myself the entire time. No expectations, no hope, no nothing. It would’ve been the least stressed I’ve ever been about this team in my entire life. But no, of course not. Of course they would not let me have that. They could never let me have that. Reprieve? No way, not for me, not for this idiot. Relaxation? Low stakes hockey (the fun kind)? No. They simply want me to lose my mind, and I am sad to say it is working. I have been writing this paragraph for far too long. Is anyone reading this? Am I shouting into a swirling void? Hello? Anyone?
Nolan Patrick would get called for tripping at 1:10, starting this game off on a not-so-good foot. This was the first time I heard Patrick’s name all night, but it would absolutely not be the last, as he was all over the place in the first period. This was not exactly the best way to start that off, but hey, that’s hockey, baby.
The ensuing Vancouver power play was nothing to joke about—but of course, I must. Look at these fools. They looked dangerous the entire time, spent far too long on a camping trip inside the Flyers zone, but they still couldn’t score? Tomfoolery. Buffoons. Yeah, I said it.
Although it’s true that the Flyers struggled early on in the period, they seemed to get over whatever mental hill they needed to climb and started to look more cohesive with the puck. It took them a bit to record their first actual scoring chance (and it was by Oskar Lindblom, for those of you at home hoping to see some of that good good development), but once they did, it pretty much opened up the ice for both sides and we started to see some of that delicious back-and-forth hockey that everyone loves so much.
This is an incredibly popular opinion, but whistles make the game boring, and there’s little I hate more than a hockey game that’s broken up into awkward chunks by icing calls and offside whistles and all of that nonsense. Thankfully, the linesmen appear to be on my side, as a long stretch of play went by without a whistle. Both teams got their fair share of opportunities (including several shots hitting posts), and Jim Jackson’s voice went all high-pitched and excited, which is the best, and you all know it.
A tripping penalty was called on Troy Stecher at 14:10, and our spicy power play got right to work. Folks, our power play is now 23rd in the league; to many people, this may seem like a not-great ranking, and indeed you could even argue that it is an actively bad one. However, if you are a long-suffering Flyers fan, you are wise to the fact that this is actually good. As in, it’s better than wherever it was before. It was like, last place? That sounds right, but I refuse to do any research before I make claims, and if you have an issue with it, you can speak to my manager. Except I don’t have a manager. I will not be managed. Thank you.
All this to say, the Flyers did not score on this power play. Well, that’s fine, in fact it is arguably good, as they would go right back on the power play off a tripping call on Bo Horvat at 17:04. This one they would actually score on. God gives good things to those who are patient, or whatever.
Sean Couturier picked up the goal on this one on the second unit at 18:37, and the good guys are 7 for 9 on the power play in their last three games. Is that good? It sounds good. Theoretically, of course, and it really depends on your definition of “good,” and how much you believe they could actually make playoffs, the madmen.
Couturier scores first! pic.twitter.com/5aF2NL1FTG— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 5, 2019
AFTER ONE: 1-0 Flyers, shots 14-10 Flyers; Flyers goal scored by Sean Couturier (18:37)
As I had hoped, the good pace of the first period carried over to the second, and right from the first face-off both teams looked just as alert as before. If every game looked like this, I would never doubt these guys for a second. Alas.
A stretch pass by Phil Varone to Jake Voracek turned into a high-speed breakaway, and the man simply could not miss there. Those are some silky mitts, boys. It gave me a little bit of a thrill, I won’t lie. Markstrom will assuredly be recovering from that one in therapy, and our beautiful boys have a 2-0 lead at 3:20.
What a goal by Voracek! pic.twitter.com/MRAW2dCSua— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 5, 2019
The Flyers generated a healthy amount of chances in this period, though they failed to capitalize on most of them. The perfect example of this is how they inexplicably could not score on a three-on-zero. You are reading that completely correctly; three Flyers players versus one lonely goalie, and they could not get a goal. Very cool and normal. This would definitely happen to another team. There is no possible way that we are the only team in the league who can’t score on a three-on-zero. Or isn’t there?
The following play by the Canucks (leading to a goal) would definitely make the Flyers feel the loss of that opportunity. Brandon Sutter very nearly had a breakaway, and Carter Hart came way out of his territory to play the puck away from him. Unfortunately for our sweet boy Carter, he flubbed on this and managed to accidentally give it almost directly to Brock Boeser instead. He had a wide-open net, and that’s something you just can’t miss on. With great dismay and horror, we all watched Boeser casually score an empty-net goal five minutes into the second period.
Yeah, uh, well. That's not fun. pic.twitter.com/EbUAJ0NUhp— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 5, 2019
Let me get this out of the way: Carter Hart did nothing wrong.
“Maybe it was the right play to come out of the net, but—” Nope.
“—he probably could have not given it to Boeser—” Buddy, I’m not even listening to you and your hypothetical sputtering. You don’t even exist. You’re a figment of my imagination, idiot, and I can get rid of you instantly. Moving on.
Aside from that play, which I will grudgingly admit was ill-advised (not the decision to come out of the net, in my opinion, but the way he handled the puck), Hart continued to have a strong game. Several times in the first and second, the Canucks looked dangerously close to scoring, but they failed to account for our sweet baby boy. You fools.
The second period as a whole was about even in terms of shots (14-12 Canucks) and I couldn’t really find a whole lot of fault with the Flyers as a whole. I could try, but there’s no need to go fishing for things to complain about. They give me plenty of fuel on a day-to-day basis.
A scrum (lightly phrased) in front of the Flyers net somehow wound up in a penalty on the Flyers and absolutely no one else. Wayne Simmonds went to the box for roughing at 18:17, but the Canucks couldn’t get anything going as the clock wound down.
AFTER TWO: 2-1 Flyers, shots 26-24 Flyers; Flyers goal scored by Jake Voracek (3:20), Canucks goal scored by Brock Boeser (5:14)
Just a couple minutes into the period, Ivan Provorov was taken down off a trip by Boeser, and the Flyers would get a delayed penalty call out of it. Hart went to the bench for the extra attacker and James van Riemsdyk very nearly had a goal before Vancouver could take possession, but it was not to be. The Flyers got the official man-advantage at 3:05.
This power play could have been better. In a word, it was mediocre, and that may be generous. They’re not all gonna be bangers, guys. It is like that sometimes.
I don’t like talking about serious things. I fail fairly often at being sincere; although I know I have the capacity for it, it just isn’t my go-to. I don’t really want to talk about what happened to Alex Edler because it is not light or funny, so I will make this pretty quick: after getting tangled up with Voracek, Edler went down to the ice face-first, and on the replay it looked apparent that he was out cold the minute his head made contact with the ice. Doctors from both teams came out to the ice, and he was taken to the locker room on a stretcher. There was a not-insignificant amount of blood on the ice. It was awful to witness. I really genuinely hope that Edler is okay. You forget a lot of times how absurdly dangerous this sport is.
I’d like to move on as swiftly as possible, because that made me extremely sad.
The third period saw the Flyers with a ton of opportunities that they just couldn’t put the finish on. The star of the show was, oh man, you won’t believe it, but it was Carter Hart. Utterly shocking. I could watch him clipping his toenails and would find myself overwhelmed by awe.
Couturier was sent to the penalty box at 13:36 for hooking, and our good-not-bad penalty kill went to work. Still feels a little strange to be writing that, but the Flyers have completely changed the narrative on their special teams as of late.
Vancouver had a few chances on the power play, perhaps more than you would like, but as Flyers fans we are simply not accustomed to having a goalie that can bail us out on situations such as these. I am speaking, of course, about his ridiculous save on Nikolay Goldobin. You don’t need me to explain this one, as it really can only be experienced in gif (pronounced with the soft g) form.
What a save by Hart! pic.twitter.com/hiqVkFcTmY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 5, 2019
Another scrum took place in front of Hart’s net. I cannot fault the Canucks for this righteous anger. No one has any idea how to handle good goaltending from the Flyers, the fans included.
With a couple of minutes left in the third, Vancouver emptied their net for the extra attacker, and once again my feral desire to see a win completely took over and I lost my whole entire mind.
The Flyers won. Okay, I am invested now. It has to happen for me, for all of us. I want to see the takes. I want to see people get very mad. I want to bottle up the tears of the inferior Metro teams and eat them with my cornflakes in the morning. How dare you doubt this team? I mean, of course, I doubted them too, and I doubt them every day, and so do all of us, but we’re allowed to do that, because they are ours.
Eight games in a row. Let’s go to the playoffs. Fuck it. Let’s just make the playoffs.
AFTER THREE: 2-1 Flyers, shots 41-30 Canucks