The Philadelphia Flyers were ready to take the next step this season, and Chuck Fletcher brought in a few players last offseason to help make that jump. One of those players is Kevin Hayes.
Hayes turned out to be one of the best offseason acquisitions in the league as he immediately gelled with the Flyers and provided stability at the center position. He was great all season long, but he played particularly well against one team: the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Some of Hayes’ best moments this season came against the Blue Jackets, and he had a hand in each of the Flyers’ four wins over Columbus.
October 26th: 1 goal, 2 assists in 7-4 win
The Flyers started to get rolling in late October, and Hayes was a big part of that. The offseason addition only had one point – a goal – in his first six games with the Flyers, but that total would increase quickly.
Hayes scored a goal in back-to-back games – both wins – heading into the Flyers’ first meeting of the season with the Blue Jackets. That’s when Hayes really went to work.
After picking up a secondary assist on Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal to make it a 4-3 game in the third period, the Flyers scored again to tie it. Then the Blue Jackets went on the power play, but Hayes was the one who supplied the power.
Hayes scored his first shorthanded goal of the year to break a 4-4 tie late in the third period.
We didn’t know it at the time, but Hayes had a few more shorties in him and was an offensive threat on the penalty kill throughout the season.
Hayes added an assist on Michael Raffl’s empty-net goal for his first three-point game in Orange and Black.
The Flyers scored five third-period goals to come back and beat the Blue Jackets for a three-game win streak.
November 27th: 1 assist in 3-2 win
The two teams met just over a month later, and Hayes once again got on the scoresheet. It wasn’t another multi-point game, but Hayes helped the Flyers to two points in Columbus.
That win was the Flyers’ second in three games after a four-game losing streak, and was at the early stages of a 7-1-1 run from late November to early December.
February 18th: 1 goal in 5-1 win
After nearly three months, the teams got back together for a home-and-home set with both clubs fighting for playoff position. It was a crucial time for the Flyers, who were coming off a rare loss in the second half of the season and were just 1-2-0 in their past three games.
Hayes got the Flyers out to a hot start in front of a rocking crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but it went in the back of the net and that’s all that matters. Hayes and the Flyers were off and running with Sean Couturier scoring 62 seconds later to take an early 2-0 lead.
Hayes could’ve had another point later in the game – and came inches away from doing so – when he won the faceoff before positioning himself in front of the net. Instead, Konecny picked up his second of three points on the night with a redirection goal.
Hayes’ line was the Flyers’ best on the night with those two goals and a 63.16 Corsi-For percentage against the Blue Jackets.
That game was good, but it got even better two days later.
February 20th: 1 goal, 1 assist in 4-3 overtime win
Hayes delivered his final blow to the Blue Jackets in their last meeting of the regular season.
The Flyers fell behind early, allowing a goal just 41 seconds into the game and another one less than nine minutes later. However, 23 seconds after the Flyers went down 2-0, Hayes helped make it a one-goal game again with an assist on a Konecny goal.
The Orange and Black battled back again from a two-goal deficit in the second period with two goals in less than two minutes to tie the game at three. The game ended up going to overtime, and we all know what happened next.
Hayes capped the game off with the overtime winner and a great celebration to boot.
That put an exclamation point on the home-and-home set as well as the season series overall.
The Flyers swept their season series against the Blue Jackets, and Kevin Hayes had a lot of fun in the process.
Hayes had at least a point in all four games, with a total of three goals and four assists for seven points in four games. Oh yeah, two of his three goals were game-winners.
His seven points against Columbus were the most he had against any team this season by far. He had three points against the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks in just two games, and against the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in three games. He has found a lot of success against the Blue Jackets in his career as well, with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 22 games against Columbus. His next highest career total is 17 points in just 12 games against the Nashville Predators.
A few other Flyers forwards had over a point per game against Columbus this season, including Travis Konecny. He was in lockstep with Hayes in February, and actually was the Flyers’ scoring leader against the Blue Jackets with eight points (three goals, five assists). Six of those points were picked up with back-to-back three-point games (one goal, two assists in each) in the home-and-home set.
Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek each had five points (two goals, three assists) in four games against Columbus.
Hayes wasn’t the only Flyer to have a lot of success against the Blue Jackets this season, but his shorthanded goal in October and the overtime winner were two iconic moments.
Kevin Hayes has turned out to be quite the offseason addition by Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers. He has fit in nicely both on and off the ice, and it doesn’t hurt that he can turn it up a notch against a divisional opponent.