Even though absolutely no one, and I mean no one, feels like watching this Flyers team play hockey, they’re doing it again tonight. They take on the St. Louis Blues in the penultimate game of the season, with sweet release from this miserable final week coming on Saturday night. St. Louis, like the Flyers, had a very slow start to their season but the difference between the two teams is one team came all the way back, and the other didn’t.
St. Louis started 7-9-3 under Mike Yeo, and after his firing, former Flyers coach and player Craig Berube has lead them to a 36-19-6 record under his reign. Sure, the Blues were never as bad as their record indicated in the opening games of the season, and the breakthrough was bound to happen, but of course it would be Graig leading another late season comeback. The Blues currently hold the third position in the Central Division, giving them a first round series against another former Flyer in Wayne Simmonds and the Nashville Predators.
The Blues have been carried primarily though by the wizardry of Jordan Binnington in net. The 25 year old goalie has been spectacular for his team posting a .928 save percentage in 30 games, a stark contrast from the goaltending they were receiving in the opening weeks from Jake Allen and Chad Johnson. The Flyers meanwhile? Ah, well, they’re just limping to the finish line folks. After a 6-2 loss to Dallas on Tuesday night, I’m sure even some of the players have run out of will to care about these final two games. The worst part about tonight, if the Flyers are losing big, we don’t even have the Phillies to distract us.
1. I just want to see the kids play well
There really isn’t a whole lot to care about in these final two games besides seeing the kiddos on the team finish strong. The Dallas game was great for Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom, and hopefully that carries over to a strong game tonight. Something I absolutely would love to have come from this game is a good all-around game from the young defensemen. Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have each had their own fair share of struggles this season, and those two getting any kind of momentum heading into next year would be appreciated.
But my main focus will be on Phil Myers and Samuel Morin. Morin has looked ... okay I think in his return, but it’s tough to judge given the state the team is in and how small the sample size has been. Regardless, I just want to see these two play well and give fans something to be excited about as this season comes to a close. Because even if they lose, the kids doing well is a nice shot in the arm.
2. Goodbye, BAMF
Barring anything crazy happening this offseason, this will be Brian Elliott’s final start in a Flyers jersey. And while there was truly nothing special about his time here, and it was mostly filled with injuries and poor goalie management from his head coach, I will miss Brian Elliott. He was a solid goalie here and seemed like a genuinely good human being, and probably deserved better during his time here. Last season, Dave Hakstol ran his 32 year old goalie into the ground playing in 25 out of 26 games at one point, when Elliott had only played in 50 or more games once in his career.
Thinking back on that, what the living hell was Dave Hakstol doing? Like, I was fully aware while he was here how bad Hakstol was at managing goalies, but this shit legitimately surprises me reading it back. A goalie who was never really relied on fully as the starting goalie, was all of a sudden told to play in 25 out of 26 games and expected to not suck and or not get hurt. Scott Gordon may not be a great head coach or even a good one for that matter, but my god I am so happy Carter Hart never had to deal with Dave Hakstol.
3. I don’t know, just make it fun?
Look I’m at a point where watching games feels like more of a chore than anything else, and I just want to watch some fun hockey. So if anything, I just need this game, and Saturday’s to be entertaining hockey. Give me Sam Morin hitting a dude into next week, give me Nolan Patrick cutting through the defense like a hot knife through butter, just give me something to work with. That’s all I ask Flyers, please do that hockey.
Flyers Projected Lineup
JVR — Patrick — Giroux
Lindblom — Couturier — Voracek
Hartman — Laughton — Konecny
Raffl — Knight — Bailey
Provorov — Sanheim
Gostisbehere — Myers
Morin — Gudas