“So, if you’re out tonight, don’t forget: if you’re on your bike, wear white. Amen.”
-The Rolling Stones
All the Flyers jerseys I’ve bought in the last several many years have been white. I live in DC and see a good chunk of my Flyers games with them as the road team, and it’s nifty when your jersey matches one on the ice (though it’s been a while since any of the jerseys on the ice had either “SYVRET” or “BARTULIS” on the back).
And for the past 15 years, white has been the color of the NHL road team, the underdog, as home crowds predominantly carpet the stands with the bold, rich color of the home team. Wearing white gives you something to play against, an adversary to attack and antagonize. Even in these playoffs, where the stands are tarped over in a neutral, greyish-blue, the jersey colors still tell someone tuning in who is expected to win each game, at least in theory.
Well, in this bizarre, anchorless series between two teams with very different seedings, home was not so sweet. The team in white won five in a row, ending with the top-seeded Flyers taking Game 6 by the score of 3-2 to win the series 4-2 over the eighth-seeded (né 12th-seeded) Montreal Canadiens.
It was the first playoff series won by the Flyers in eight years, since beating the Penguins in a wild first round in 2012.
The Flyers will face the sixth-seeded (né seventh-seeded) New York Islanders in the second round. They’ll wear orange in Games 1 and 2, but if they can somehow keep their white-hot hunger (being 5-0 in white in Toronto this summer), they’ll be in good shape.
Bullet points of many colors:
- Montreal goaltender Carey Price is not very good and I’ve wanted to say this for the whole series, being the acclaimed demolisher of overrated goalies that I am. But afraid of jinxing things, and also out of deference for Carter Hart’s unabashed love for the guy, which seems pure and sweet. But Carey Price plays this languid-bordering-on-lazy style of goaltending that I’ve never liked at all, except when it’s been against the Flyers in the playoffs, particularly 12 years ago. Back then Price was even more passive, causing leading minds in hockey (myself) to draw comparisons between his goaltending and Daria’s volleyball playing.
- OK, the first goal wasn’t awful from Price, but it came almost immediately in the game, with a low Provorov shot through traffic going into the net uncontested for a 1-0 lead just 28 seconds in for a 1-0 lead.
- Regrettably, Travis Konecny was initially given the goal before the officials decided that he hasn’t been frustrated enough this month and gave it to Provorov. Poor Travis, this series really seemed to grind his VCR.
- Even before the first TV timeout of the game, the Flyers had a 2-0 lead after a super soft goal on Carey Price with Kevin Hayes tucking it into an absolutely yawning gap between his legs. I’ve seen smaller spreads at Thanksgiving! I’ve seen less grand openings at my local Mazda dealership! The Flyers had two goals on three shots, and life was good. Poor Price puckhandling behind the net almost made it 3-0. The lie was exposed! The truth was going to set us free!
- Lo, prior to getting too comfortable, noted head toucher Nick Suzuki scored a reciprocally weak goal through Hart’s five-hole to make it 2-1 halfway through the third, taking advantage of a penalty taken by Phil Myers of the Phil. Flyers.
- It wasn’t until 13 minutes into the game that the Flyers got their fourth shot of the game. This is not a long-term strategy that will work, boys.
- Keeping the theme of making a lot out of a little that has served them well in this series, the Flyers scored their third goal on their seventh shot of the game, with Travis Sanheim tactically knocking the puck off the post, off Price’s backside, and into the net for a 3-1 lead. Michael Raffl got credit for this one officially and I’m really not sure why.
- Edginess would not subside, alas: the Canadiens narrowed the lead back to 3-2 just 99 seconds later with a second goal from Nick Suzuki after some poor puckhandling from Hart allowed a fancy backdoor play. The Flyers, for their part, were at this point in the midst of a 9 minute, 28 second gap between shots on goal.
- Anyhow the one bright spot in this middle part of the game was Shayne Gostisbehere, who remains the wildest ride on this otherwise reliable team. You just truly don’t know what he’s going to do when he has the puck, for very good or very bad. But it’s an exciting sort of danger, a romantic danger, like a 3 a.m. text from an ex. John Forslund felt this intensely during the second period, at one point literally shouting “He’s a ghost!” as our Ghost Bear handled the puck.
- Suspended Matt Niskanen wasn’t missed, at all, therefore. For a team that has a very solid lineup and not a ton of injury issues, they suddenly have a surplus of thinking to do on this front. One lineup inclusion which I appreciate, for sure, is Joel Farabee; his last name sounds like “therapy” and when they said it as I nervously paced in front of the TV late in the second period, I seriously considered getting help.
- Shots and medium-heat scoring chances continued for the remainder of the game, almost exclusively for the Canadiens, who ended the game with a 33-17 edge in shots. Konecny had another great shot on a feed from Hayes eight minutes into the third, but it yielded nothing. This poor Konecny boy is snakebit, and you can tell it’s really curling his oatmeal.
- All I did in the third period was watch the clock. There were no goals and no penalties. As proven by French theoretical physicist Jules Henri Poincaré, clocks move more slowly when the Flyers are winning in the third period of an important game.
- Until it was over it wasn’t over, but I did have some calm restored in the final five minutes or so, somehow. Because the Flyers were getting so few shots on goal, Carter Hart wasn’t getting as many examples of poor Carey Price play to emulate as he had been earlier, and he seemed to thrive on his own. I don’t think he has any childhood attachment to Semyon Varlamov, so hopefully the second round is baggage-free.
Am I right?
Well there we go, the Flyers won a playoff series for the first time in eight years. It was weird, it was ugly, but the Flyers are winners and the Canadiens are losers, and that’s all that matters. They play on. This small glimmer of hope we’ve been given in the middle of a global derecho of doodoo flickers on.
Rest up before this next series, folks, and remember to drink lots of water. It’s been a while since we played a series against that team, but I think I recall something about the island being pretty dry.