One of my favorite discoveries of getting armpit-deep in Flyerland again during this summer swing has been the Philadelphia Cocky/Distraught meter, as depicted by @TangoGolfKilo, which beautifully clarifies the bipolar nature of Philadelphia fandom.
Even when the Flyers won the series over Montreal, there wasn’t a lot of room to be inspired by the play, leaving the Flyer consensus solidly in the red after having been way, way into Greenland following the Flyers win of the round-robin (which they’d better get a banner for).
After the hapless Game 1 against the Islanders, it only drifted further into distraughtness.
But lo, this game started with something that felt like hope! The Flyers pounced early and dominated, and appeared to have a win locked up before the first intermission. Annoyingly the game kept going and that lead had time to erode, but despite a bad challenge late that led to a crucial delay of game penalty that gave the Islanders a regulation-closing power play (hate that rule), the Flyers survived and salvaged a win in overtime on a bouncing shot from Phil Myers of the Phil. Flyers, avoiding a loss that would have felt like a sucker punch to the heart (or maybe just the head of Logan Couture).
These Flyers have been nothing if not resilient this year, and right now the dial is at about...1 o’clock.
- Going into this game all the talk had rightly been about the lack of production from the Flyers A-Listers, who had been all but invisible on the scoresheet this month. That changed in a heckin’ hurry, with Kevin Hayes scoring two goals early, both shortside on Semyon Varlamov. Sean Couturier followed soon after with a pretty darn filthy drag around the outstretched Varlamov, also beating him stickside.
- Only 40 seconds in net today was enough for Varlamov to pass Billy Smith for the longest postseason shutout streak in Islanders franchise history, and he seemed to check out once that was done. The glory boy quickly turned into a glory hole, letting the first shot go in, and being beaten the same way again. Thomas Greiss came in after the third goal, and the Flyers really did seem to ease up offensively after that, not testing Greiss much, which would come back to bite them later. Speaking of back-up goalies...
- Brian Elliott should absolutely start Game 3. Carter Hart was woeful in his previous back-to-back situation against Montreal, and there’s just no reason not to believe in Elliott with how solid he’s been in relief (and against Washington in the round-robin) in Toronto. Starting Elliott doesn’t undermine Hart at all; if anything, it instills a huge amount of confidence in the team that they not in desperation mode. Hart can come back for Game 4 and the rest of the series, this should be a one-time thing. (And no, I don’t expect Elliott’s agent to paste a bloodied sword into his photoshop soon.)
- Up until today none of the Flyers games had actually been all that dramatic late, so I was pretty surprised when a two-goal lead with less than 10 minutes to go in the third evaporated. This was the first roller-coaster moment of these playoffs, and hopefully the wild ride will accelerate some lasting sense urgency.
- Calling hockey games on television is very hard, and the NBC team has been exceptional, especially after the merciful departure of the unbearable Mike Milbury. But I have no idea what the otherwise excellent John Forslund is doing pronouncing Devon Toews (/ˈdɛvən ˈteɪvz/) first name like it’s “DaVonne.” Also, I had fully thought before I heard him talk that Anders Lee was a Swedish fella.
- Keeping the shot totals on screen during the majority of the game has been a shift for NBC Sports Network during these playoffs, and it allowed me to focus on if the Flyers would be able to be the first team to break 30 shots against the Islanders in these playoffs, who had never previously allowed more than 29 through 10 games. Well, they did, but they needed OT to get there, finishing with 28 through regulation. If letting in that last goal was a concession toward the larger objective of reaching 30, I can respect the gamble.
- So as my various alerts were telling me throughout this game, the NBA completely overshadowed this Flyers game today. The NHL seemed to try to get its “We Stand for Black Lives” compromise out of the way early, but we know that this is far from gone as a national issue, and hopefully the Flyers and the NHL also acknowledge similarly very soon.
Back at it again tomorrow night. Go Flyers.