We’ve just about hit the home stretch of the regular season, folks. The Flyers may not have been officially mathematically eliminated from playoff contention just yet, but it’s only a matter of time. It’s garbage time, effectively, and everyone’s just trying to make it through these last few games to close things out.
But despite this, the Flyers have, on the whole, been able to avoid checking out and phoning it in, at least just yet. And not just that, they’ve been able to string together some pretty good results against some pretty good teams this weekend. They matched up well enough against the Sabres, and despite conceding the edge in overall possession, they were able to keep them well enough to the outside, and made the most of their chances, getting themselves to, at one point, a 4-0 lead (and then ended with a 5-2 win after a bit of a surge from the Sabres).
And even with last night’s matchup against the Hurricanes—a tired team facing one that has given them a lot of trouble so far this season—looking to be a difficult one, they were able to bear down and still find some positive results. They came back from being down 3-1 in the second period to hold a 4-3 lead into very nearly the very end, but a power play goal conceded with .3 seconds remaining sent them to overtime and then Sebastian Aho walking Tony DeAngelo to score the game winner (and complete the hat trick) on the first shift was the ultimate end to this one. It’s a tough result to swallow for the team, but there were some really stellar efforts that got them to the point of even getting that loser point.
And what’s perhaps most encouraging of all is that the success that they found over these last two games was driven, by and large, by the kids. 13 players had at least a point scored this weekend, and six of them are under the age of 25, and six of the eight players with a multi-point weekend are under 25.
Owen Tippett led the charge with a hat trick against the Sabres, an additional two points against the Hurricanes, and nine individual scoring chances between the two games. Tyson Foerster picked up his first NHL point on Friday and then followed it up with his first goal on Saturday, and flexed a quite well rounded game on the whole, as he showed strong playmaking, checked well, and chipped in a bit of physicality. Morgan Frost and Noah Cates both had good looks, each with two points last night in respectable workloads. Joel Farabee had goals in both games, and is finally starting to get some confidence back, and looking like he’s inching back towards his old form after a lengthy injury recovery. Cam York picked up a point as well, and continues to show progress in his game, and nice defensive poise.
And this is, in short, exactly what we need to see from this team at this point in the season. With the roster as depleted as it is at the moment, someone was going to have to show up, and it’s encouraging to see that it’s the kids who have been the ones to do it. The organization has its sights set firmly on the future—they are finally using the word rebuild, after all—and these players by and large are the ones who are going to constitute it. It might not be all of them, we’ll acknowledge—the Flyers sound like they’re taking calls on just about anyone, and who knows what kind of movement we’ll see this summer—but that doesn’t make what we’re seeing playing out here any less encouraging.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on this roster to get it where it needs to be in order to be consistently competitive—as pleased as we are with the results we saw this weekend, we don’t expect them to be sustainable over a longer span of time, we can acknowledge that too—but there seems to be a wealth of intriguing young talent coming together here, and that’s as good of a start as any. The results, as far as wins and losses go, are what they are at this point, we can take them or leave them, but this foundation coming together is the biggest positive we can possibly see. The Flyers have three more call-ups that they can use before the end of the season, so we’ll see how the mix continues to take shape down the stretch, if it will change, but if nothing else, it’s been a real treat to see all of these young players taking their opportunity and running with it.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.