The 2018-19 Flyers have been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.
From the 8-2 beating the Sharks gave them in the home opener to the eight-game winning streak that effectively saved their season, the Flyers have given us highs and lows that have been almost as equally inspiring as they’ve been crushing.
And while there is much to be disappointed with in this version of the Flyers, one that will end without a Stanley Cup for the 43rd straight season, there is also just as much hope for the future.
The Flyers are likely going to see their minuscule odds of making the 2018-19 playoffs come to a full close with today’s action across the league, and that’s okay. Despite that, we’ve still learned much about this iteration of the Flyers in the last season, and plenty more about just what the Flyers will be in seasons to come.
There are a number of different scenarios under which the Flyers can be eliminated today.— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) March 30, 2019
If they take zero points from their game, they are out regardless.
If they take exactly one point, they will be eliminated if either Montreal or Columbus get a point tonight.
If the Flyers win in regulation, they will be eliminated by Columbus taking two points while— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) March 30, 2019
Montreal also take two points.
If the Flyers win /after/ regulation, they will be eliminated by /either/ Columbus taking two points or Montreal taking two points.
So when the Hurricanes — who look likely to make the playoffs for the first time since way back in 2008-09 — likely end the Flyers’ misery this afternoon, there will be time for reflection and then some. The Hurricanes have been a revelation this season, using the Storm Surge to create a palpable energy that has extended from captain Justin Williams through the team and through a fan base that badly needed a bolt of energy.
A different storm should — and will — hit the Flyers this offseason, too.
This storm won’t be of a players’ creation, a la the Hurricanes and Williams, but that of Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. He will be armed with one of the deepest prospect pools in hockey, a boatload of draft picks, an NHL roster close to contention, and above all else the one thing that has plagued Philadelphia hockey in the past few decades: a bona-fide No. 1 NHL goaltender.
Carter Hart has been sensational since making his NHL debut, and has casted aside doubts about just how soon he would emerge as a franchise goaltender. After conquering everything else in his path before this, it was naive to thing that Hart wouldn’t be here now —and be this good.
Carolina will make the playoffs baring a collapse, and they’ve earned the right to play for a Stanley Cup behind the likes of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, but the Flyers aren’t far behind.
Now we’d love for everything to break the Flyers’ way over the next week or so, because everyone has a chance when they get in the dance, but the realization is that this season is about to be over for all intents and purposes. That really sucks to type, but the fact that the Flyers are undoubtedly trending upwards gives hope that they won’t be happy with this season either, and that bigger things are on the horizon for next season and beyond.
Rome wasn’t built in one day.
Or maybe it’s when in Rome.
Either way, the Flyers aren’t making the playoffs. Sorry, but here’s three things to watch for when they meet the Hurricanes this afternoon from Raleigh.
Poor starts have plagued the Flyers for the past few years, but bad starts have really put a kibosh on their attempts to get back in the playoff race in the last week. Even as one of the few NHL teams that doesn’t operate at a total loss when playing from behind, the Flyers have seen that slow starts can burn even the best comeback teams.
That said, they find ways to erase poor starts and have done it enough in order to make a 2-0 deficit not seem like a total death sentence. The problem is that there are only so many times you can erase those deficits and a ton of it just has to do with dumb luck. The Flyers aren’t always outplaying teams during these comebacks, but they’re just getting some extra help along the way like the case against the Maple Leafs last time out.
Even though there won’t be postseason hockey barring an insane miracle, It’d be nice to see the Flyers get after things from opening puck drop and not have to play totally from behind for a change. It’d also be cool to see the Flyers support their 20-year-old goaltender for a whole 60 minutes, but we’ll take an improved first period as part of baby steps here.
Control your own destiny
The Flyers know that they can essentially stay alive by getting at least a point so they should start there and just worry about their own business without thinking about what other teams like Montreal will do later. It’s good that Montreal doesn’t play until tonight and that should let the Flyers focus in and try and take care of the Hurricanes without having to do any scoreboard watching.
Realistically the Flyers know their playoff hopes are but dead, so just go out there and have some fun and try and build momentum down the stretch here into an important offseason.
Claude Giroux has just one goal in March, and while he’s racked up 13 assists and has 14 points in 13 games, it feels like we’re due for one of those patented statement goals from Giroux where he pounds home a one-timer and fires up his mates.
Giroux hasn’t been the reason the Flyers have faded down the stretch here, but seeing him rip one home would give the Flyers some needed energy and propel them down the stretch of five games that are largely meaningless.
Then again, it doesn’t have to be a wicked slapper, it could also be one of those highlight-reel goals where Giroux dekes the entire President’s Trophy Winning roster then deposits one past the likely Vezina winner. That’d be cool, too.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Lindblom — Couturier — Giroux
JVR — Patrick — Voracek
Hartman — Laughton — Konecny
Raffl — Knight — Bailey
Provorov — Sanheim
Morin — Myers
Hagg — Gudas