It’s time for the playoffs yet again! As I left off from the last episode, today we face the Washington Capitals in the first round. I won’t delay any further, here we go!
Going into the first game, our lineup remains unchanged from the ten game winning streak we ended on.
It also doesn’t hurt that Carter Hart is red hot coming into this series.
Meanwhile, the Capitals roll in with a slightly different lineup from last time. The ever-dangerous Alex Ovechkin pairs up with the long-time Capital Nicklas Backstrom, and Justin Danforth, who formerly played in Finland before joining the Capitals for 2020-21.
Anyways, in the first game, we took control early on, establishing a lead that we never gave up. From those shot totals, you can tell it was a masterclass in offensive production.
However, I can’t say the same of game two. The Capitals got themselves out in front early, and despite a second period push, we couldn’t complete a comeback, despite the 42 shots on goal.
Even worse news was to come as Torey Krug would be out for game three with a sore foot, which on paper drastically hurts our chances, especially as Krug helps run the power play.
Yet, without Krug, game three would go the Flyers way with an away win.
Quick goals from Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux put the Flyers in front, and they never relinquished the lead, despite getting outhit significantly. We play a speedy, offensively oriented sytle that provides a resiliance in our play. I was ecstatic.
Game four, in similar fashion, also went the Flyers’ way.
Down 3-2 in the third period, Filip Forsberg tied the game halfway through the period on a clever wrist shot from the right circle. Then, with only four minutes left, a point shot from Rasmus Ristolainen found its way to the back of the net, and that was all she wrote as a 3-1 series lead was secured.
Back at home then, the Flyers could seal a second round entry with a victory, and seal it they did!
Efforts from the forwards, including a Claude Giroux hat trick, and stellar goaltending from Carter Hart sent the Capitals packing for the second straight year, as the Flyers would now have some well earned rest before the next round.
For the second year in a row, again, the Flyers would face the Blue Jackets in round two.
Somehow, they keep pulling off upsets in the playoffs and boy does it make me upset.
Well regardless, in game one, in front of a roaring Well Fargo Center crowd, the Flyers took down Columbus, partially thanks to some sloppy play on part of the visitors. They took 22 penalty minutes, and we scored twice on the power play in the first period. Krug was back for this game, and pitched in with two assists.
The Flyers would also take game two as Columbus took a further 16 penalty minutes.
A flurry of goals in the first period sealed the win and we never looked back, including two from either team in the first minute.
We rode in hot to Columbus for games three and four, but unfortunately, Columbus play very well at home, and evened the series thanks to excellent goaltending from Elvis Merzlikins. They also tightened up their play, taking far less penalties.
I would say that in terms of possession and shots on goal, we played better in both games, but the home crowd willed the Blue Jackets to victory, and an evened series.
Moving back home to Philadelphia, the Flyers righted the ship again.
So far in these playoffs, after losses we’ve managed to come back and really take care of business, and that has me excited for what we can do in future seasons. Though, perhaps I should be thinking more immediately, as on the road in game six, in an incredibly close game, we snatched victory late.
With under five minutes left in the third period, in a tie game, Filip Forsberg was sent through clean on a breakaway by Sean Couturier, and Forsberg made a nifty backhand move to beat Merzlikins and send the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2010.
And who would our opponent be? Well, none other than a rival the Flyers haven’t faced in the playoffs since the early 2000’s.
The Leafs won the Atlantic Division, largely thanks to the offensive prowess of Auston Matthews and captain Mitch Marner, yes, Marner is captain in this reality.
This series is surely going to be won by whoever is able to break out and score first, as both teams throw caution to the wind and go all out attack.
That certainly would prove to be true in game one, as the Flyers got out ahead early thanks to Sean Couturier.
We peppered Frederik Andersen with 54 shots (!!) as we scored four unanswered goals, which Toronto couldn’t come back from. Unfortunately though, in the second period, Morgan Frost was forced out of the game, and it was revealed that he tore a ligament in his elbow, and will be out for five months. It’ s a blow to our depth, and we wish Morgan a speedy recovery. Adrian Kempe would step in to fill the roster spot.
Game two would go to overtime in Philadelphia, as a very late goal (with only 30 seconds left) from Frederik Gauthier tied the game for Toronto. However, just 17 seconds into the overtime period, a Torey Krug point shot was tipped in front by Joel Farabee and into the net, to put the Flyers up 2-0 in the series!
Games three and four were both played in Toronto, and like in the Columbus series, the Flyers would lose both on the road unfortunately.
Both games were quite similar, which is why I’ve included them together here. Toronto managed to win thanks to third period comebacks. It highlighted our lack of defensive responsibility, and for game five, I made sure to tweak the system to introduce more back-checking.
And it worked.
Though we let up a lot of shots, we again dominated possession and threw our weight around as well. I decided to keep the same plan for game six, and unfortunately, Toronto yet again came back from behind at home.
Therefore, it all came down to a game seven at home in the Wells Fargo Center. A victory would send the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2010.
The first goal was scored by Nolan Patrick, and very quickly after, Dylan Larkin would add a second.
In the end, there were four unanswered goals before the Flyers would add a fifth with an empty net tally.
We’ve done it. The final round awaits us. It’s a moment I didn’t think I would get to see until much later in the series, but here we are, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Stanley Cup Final
In our way, the final obstacle to ultimate glory, were the Dallas Stars.
The Flyers would host game one at home, as the number one seed. A reporter there live said that you could barely hear yourself think over the noise of the crowd, and could barely see over the waving of a sea of orange rally towels.
The Stars showed off an intimidating lineup, with their top line proving to be scary to nearly all teams they faced.
Though, the Dallas top line could barely make a dent as the Flyers top players made their impact first.
Torey Krug continued to perform incredibly well as he took the first star of the match. Travis Konecny also played very well.
Game one was an offensive explosion from the Flyers, and game two would prove to be the opposite. Only one goal was scored in the match...however fortunately it was the Flyers who got it!
Phil Myers threw the puck down low, where Dylan Larkin was able to win it behind the net, throwing a quick pass out in front which Alex DeBrincat slammed home, also slamming home a 2-0 lead in the series.
Games three and four would be played in a raucous American Airlines Center, a building that was not nearly as loud as the ‘Farg, but still loud nonetheless. Through three periods, no winner emerged, and overtime proved necessary. The Stars’ Staffan Kronwall was penalized for hooking, and the Flyers would see a crucial power play. On the right wall, Kevin Hayes passed the puck at the side of the net to Joel Farabee. Thinking quickly, Farabee tried to stuff the puck past Landon Bow, but he was stopped. However, the rebound was left wide open for Nolan Patrick to move in and score into an empty net. Elation, and a 3-0 lead. One win from the cup.
With the chance to win the first Cup since 1975, the Flyers once again faced overtime in game four. However, Jamie Benn had the final say, as he rocketed a slap shot past Carter Hart to give Dallas life.
Game five was back in Philly, yet with the chance to win, again the Stars held on and won.
They managed to come back from a two goal deficit to force a game six in Dallas. I was starting to get nervous.
Through the first period, it was looking like game six would be goalless, but Travis Konecny took a feed from Quinton Byfield to give the Flyers a one goal lead.
Torey Krug and Sean Couturier would add to the lead in the second period, as the watch party in the Wells Fargo Center erupted.
The third period would come and pass, and soon after, it was all over.
The Flyers had won the Stanley Cup.
The long wait would be over. Commissioner Gary Bettman first gave out the Conn Smythe trophy to none other than Torey Krug, who was a force to be reckoned with in this year’s playoffs. Then, without further wait, they wheeled out the Stanley Cup. Bettman shook Claude Giroux’s hand, and lifted the cup into Giroux’s waiting arms. He hoisted it above his head, letting out a scream of pure elation. He passed the cup next to Kevin Hayes, who in turn passed it to Ivan Provorov, and the cycle continued.
The Flyers flew back to Philadelphia welcomed by a rambunctious crowd waiting for them at the airport.
It was sure to be a parade that nobody would forget.
That will do it for this episode.
Next up, we start the offseason, though for now, we celebrate.