Preview: Hawk-una matata
The Flyers head to Chicago for the final game of their godforsaken season. We did it, fam--we made it through.
Well, we've made it folks: the final game of the season for the Philadelphia Flyers. It's been quite a ride--Chuck Fletcher (finally, mercifully) got fired, Torts did Torts things, Owen Tippett looks legit, there was one (1) ten game losing streak...and at last, we can disembark this crazy train for the summer. But one foe yet remains: the powerhouse tank that is the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are 26-49-6, and are tied with the Anaheim Ducks with 58 standings points--second worst in the league behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, who the Flyers nearly lost to on Tuesday. That would be embarrassing, except the Hawks sorta demolished the Pittsburgh Penguins that same night. Now that is embarrassing, as it sealed the Pens' fate to miss the playoffs. Relish the moment that the obviously tanking Chicago Blackhawks knocked Crosby & Co. out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in forever.
The Flyers, meanwhile, ended their losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets in overtime, because that's what we need more of at the end of this season: overtime between two bottom-feeding teams. JvR scored his 300th goal in that game, Joel Farabee set a career best for points in a season despite his slow start, and Owen Tippett scored goals 25 and 26. That win also locked the Flyers into a pre-lottery draft position of seven--the first team to have clinched their slot. Here's hoping lucky number seven jumps up to one or two! Worth mentioning that this is likely the last game to see several players in a Flyers jersey, most notably JvR. So long, and thanks for all the fish, Reemer.
Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. from Chicago, because of course the Flyers have to get a late start to drag this godforsaken season on for as long as possible. At least we made it, everybody.
Players to Watch
The winner of the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (for most improved player), Tippett has arguably been the brightest spot of this season. He may not be an elite star, but he's certainly made his case to be a productive top-six forward for years to come, and is young enough to potentially still be here when the Flyers look to contend again. He cracked 25+ goals this season, and there's no reason to doubt he could hit 30 in the future.
Without TK, this team would've been limp and lifeless to watch all year. He brought energy, excitement, and offensive generation at the level we knew he was capable of. He's already hit a career best with 29 goals, and it'd be great to see him hit 30 before the season's out. There's potential he's traded during the off season, so let's all enjoy one last outing with the jerk store.
Hart cleaned up at the Flyers' season end awards, winning the Bobby Clarke Trophy (for team MVP), Gene Hart Memorial Trophy (for teammate who demonstrates the most "heart"), and the Toyota Cup Award (for being the player most oft-selected "Star of the Game"). He's a goaltender with enough skill that several contenders may come knocking in the off season, so this could be his final game as a Flyer.
There is no one worth watching on the Blackhawks (even if it is Jonathan Toews final game as a Hawk). Sorry, not sorry.
Joel Farabee--Morgan Frost--Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton--Kevin Hayes--JvR
Wade Allison--Noah Cates--Owen Tippett
Nic Deslauriers--Tanner Lacyznski--Brendan Lemieux
Ivan Provorov--Cam York
Travis Sanheim--Rasmus Ristolainen
Adam Ginning--Justin Braun
Tyler Johnson--Jonathan Toews--Jason Dickinson
Anders Bjork--Andreas Athanasiou--Buddy Robinson
Boris Katchouk--Mackenzie Entwistle--Joey Anderson
Austin Wagner--Reese Johnson--Ian Mitchell
Caleb Jones--Seth Jones
Wyatt Kaiser--Connor Murphy
Andreas Englund--Nikita Zaitsev
It's been a blast to join the BSH team and bring these previews to you, loyal readers, but I'm taking the weekend off from all things hockey in preparation for the playoffs. You've all earned a break as well--especially from the Flyers--so enjoy this lovely spring weather! Go outside! Have a beverage! I know that's what I'll be doing.
We've got a lot of fun stuff planned for the off season--some of it Flyers related, some not--so I hope you'll stick with us. But yeah, definitely take a break, because hockey gods know we need it.