The Philadelphia Flyers are officially in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, if they happen, that is.
The Flyers, along with the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals, will play in a round-robin tournament to determine the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. The rest of the teams in the 24-team playoffs – No. 5 through No. 12 – will play in a best-of-five series to clinch their playoff berth.
While those teams lower in the standings know their first opponent to prepare for, the top four teams will play in a three-game round-robin tournament.
The good news for the Flyers is that they have nowhere to go but up. They come in as the No. 4 seed and will have three games to potentially improve their position. The Flyers should have a good chance at doing just that based off their success in the regular season.
In this three-part series, we’ll look at how the Flyers played this season against each of their three round-robin opponents, starting with the top-seeded Bruins.
November 10, 2019: 3-2 shootout win
All three meetings between the Flyers and Bruins were competitive this season, but perhaps this one was the most balanced. All four goals were scored at even strength, and each team went 0-for-2 on the power play. Carter Hart and Jaroslav Halak went head-to-head in net, with Hart making 26 saves and Halak making 27.
The Flyers got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, and it stayed that way through two periods. However, coming off of a win the night before in Toronto, perhaps the fatigue caught up to them as the Bruins tied the game with a pair of goals in the third period.
With the game tied at two late in the third, Hart denied a David Pastrnak penalty shot and then the Flyers killed off a penalty with less than four minutes remaining to send the game to overtime. No one scored there, and Joel Farabee scored the lone goal in the shootout to win it for the Flyers.
The Flyers were beginning to find themselves after a rough end to October, and the win against the Bruins was their first four-game winning streak of the season. They went into Boston after a tough shootout win against the Maple Leafs the night before and came away with two points.
January 13, 2020: 6-5 shootout win
The second matchup against the Bruins was arguably the most exciting win of the season for the Flyers. It was a back-and-forth affair with the Flyers battling back from three multi-goal deficits – including a 5-2 hole midway through the second period – to win on Brad Marchand’s whiff (and Travis Konecny’s goal) in the shootout.
This game is probably more fresh in everyone’s mind and it was the start of something special. It showed that the Flyers were able to bounce back from tough losses – a 1-0 home loss to the Lightning on a fluky goal – and that they would not go down without a fight.
It felt like the Flyers were out of reach at times, and just getting outplayed by a better team, but they turned on the gas in the second half of the game and took it to the Bruins. They got a few bounces here and there, but it was all Flyers in the second and third periods. After being out-attempted 20-13 (39.39 Corsi-For percentage) in the first period, the Flyers had the upper hand in the second (20-8, 71.43 CF%) and third (14-10 (58.33 CF%).
Each team scored one power-play goal in the game – both in the first period – and the Flyers took advantage of 4-on-4 hockey with Travis Sanheim jumping in offensively to score the tying goal in the third period
It was once again Hart getting the start and win in net for the Flyers, with Halak getting handed the loss. The Flyers had yet to face Tuukka Rask, who proved to be the difference-maker in the third meeting.
March 10, 2020: 2-0 loss
In the Flyers’ final game before the Coronavirus pause, their 10-game winning streak ended at the hands of Rask and the Bruins. It was a frustrating loss for the Flyers as they played some of their best hockey, but simply could not solve Rask, who had several outstanding saves.
The Flyers had the better of the play in the first two periods, out-attempting the Bruins 13-10 (56.52 CF%) in the first and 17-14 (54.85 CF%) in the second. However, they trailed 1-0 after a power-play point shot through traffic beat Hart late in the second period. The Flyers continued to push in the third period, but a Patrice Bergeron goal sealed the game with less than five minutes left.
This is the most recent game and possibly the best one to look at to analyze any potential future games between the Flyers and Bruins, but the season series as a whole paints a good picture as well.
The Bruins were the best team in the league, but the Flyers were able to keep up with them in all three games this season. Even when playing in a back-to-back or down by a few goals, the Flyers ended up being right there with the Bruins through regulation and beating them in two shootouts.
The Flyers ended up going 2-1-0 in the season series against Boston, but the Bruins won the only game in regulation while the Flyers’ wins came in a shootout. The Bruins are undoubtedly the better team with an NHL-best 100 points, but the Flyers have proven that they can go toe-to-toe with them this season.
The game on March 10th was the last game of the season for both the Flyers and Bruins. Boston got the upper hand in that one, but given the course of the season series, the Flyers will have a solid chance of getting revenge in a round-robin game.
The Flyers finished the regular season with 11 fewer points than the Bruins, but it’ll come down to one game to help determine seeding for the playoffs.