Preview: Something Bruin
It's Easter, and the start of the final week of the Flyers' season--perhaps they can resurrect themselves into a playoff contender in the coming months.
Know what else is resurrecting? Broad Street Hockey, baby! We'll be tailgating in Lot G from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. TODAY! Probably right now, as you're reading this preview. There'll be delicious meats, as well as beverages to purchase thanks to KLYR Rum. Or BYO, I guess. This'll be my first ever tailgate (at the ripe old age of 31) so I dunno proper protocol, but surely the experts within the Philadelphia BSH community already know what to do. See y'all there!
Anyway, hockey. The Flyers. A team coming into today's game after a shutout loss to the New York Islanders that saw Carter Hart pulled and put the team on a six game losing streak. No rest for the wicked, as today's opponent is the historically good Boston Bruins. You know, the Bruins? Who've set a ludicrous number of records this year? Whose goal differential is plus-122? Who locked up the President's Trophy weeks ago? Who shut the Flyers out 6-0 when they last met in January? And who, just last night, beat the New Jersey Devils to tie the NHL record for wins in a single season with 62?
Yeah, those Bruins, who are 9-1-0 in their last ten. At least both teams have the disadvantage of meeting in the second half of a back-to-back, but a win tonight would give the Bruins sole possession of the win record with their 63rd of the year. With that on the line, one expects this team to skate circles around the Flyers. In any other season, David Pastrnak would be the frontrunner for the Rocket Richard with 57 goals, but Connor McDavid's having just an insane year with 64; barring a series of Pasta hat-tricks and McDavid finishing the season as a setup man, that trophy looks like a lock for McDavid.
Honestly, I could sit here all day and write about the incredible year practically every player on the Bruins is having. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci have both turned back the clock, with Bergeron being the frontrunner for his sixth (sixth!) Selke trophy. Hampus Lindholm is a Norris contender, with ten goals, 52 points, and a ludicrous +46 rating–a plus-minus Matt Grzelcyk also has, tied for best on the team. Charlie McAvoy's having a stellar year. Linus Ullmark's record is 39-6-1, and he's sporting a .938 save percentage and 1.89 GAA, making him the frontrunner for the Vezina. "Backup" goaltender Jeremy Swayman's rocking a 22-6-4 record, .921 SV%, and 2.20 GAA. Jake DeBrusk has had a bounce-back season under new coach Jim Montgomery, and it seems a foregone conclusion that Montgomery will win this year's Jack Adams Award. Brad Marchand is still Brad Marchand, even if he's in a scoring drought at the moment.
And then they went and got better at the trade deadline! Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway have fit right in after coming over from the Washington Capitals: Orlov's got 15 points in 21 games, and Hathaway's played the instigator depth role perfectly, adding a handful of points along the way. Tyler Bertuzzi came over from the Detroit Red Wings, and has 11 points in 18 games, giving the Bruins even more middle-six scoring punch while Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno have been injured. Hall returned to the lineup against the Devils for his first game since February.
The Bruins have steamrolled everyone in the league, even when they started the season with injuries to key players, and even now with a handful of players out--including Krejci, Foligno and Derek Forbort. If all those players are are good to go for the playoffs (and it sounds like they will be), the Bruins are going to have a logjam at every position on the roster. This team is a thrill to watch, and will hopefully put together one of the most entertaining Cup runs in recent memory.
But this is not a Bruins blog--it is a Philadelphia Flyers blog. Though after reading about all those players, dear reader, what can I possibly say to get you excited for tonight's game? Maybe Travis Konecny and Owen Tippett will score some fun goals; maybe Noah Cates will show off his shutdown skills against the Bruins' top lines the same way he did against McDavid a few weeks ago; or maybe we'll get spectacular goaltending that'll leave us in disbelief.
Really though, the main reason to watch this game is to see what the Bruins are capable of, and if they can set the record. They may be a conference rival, but teams this complete don't come around often, if ever, and with the possibility of retirement looming for Bergeron and Krejci, there's an aura of "this is it" around Boston right now. Any fan of good hockey in general can appreciate the magnitude of what the Bruins have accomplished this season. The last two Flyers games of the season--both away--are against fellow bottom feeders Columbus and Chicago; this is the last opportunity for Flyers fans to see high-end hockey this season, so take this matchup as an opportunity to appreciate a talented team, and hope that one day the Flyers will be in a position like that.
Puck drop is at 6 p.m. from the Farg for the last home game of the season. We're almost there, fam. Almost there.
Players to Watch
The Flyers Farewell Edition
Kevin Hayes, Ivan Provorov, Justin Braun & JvR
It's well known at this point that Hayes is not part of the Flyers' future plans, and that this could be his last season in Philadelphia. This may be the final chance to see Hayes skate in a Flyers sweater at the Farg. It could also be the last time for Provorov too, who oozes discontent with the organization and team. Braun is getting up there in years, and retirement is very much on the table for him. JvR, of course, is likely finished as a Flyer when his contract expires at the end of the season--and it could be a career, too.
Travis Konecny & Carter Hart
Do the Flyers have to trade TK and Hart? No. Should they? Probably. Neither will really fit the team's timeline for contention, and both are good enough to command a hefty return. With the Flyers entering a rebuild, it's possible one or both of these players get traded in the off season--enjoy the chirps from #11 one last time, if that's the case.
Literally Every Player On the Bruins
I know this sounds absurd, but like I discussed above: practically every Bruin is playing at a staggering level--it's impossible to pick one player to follow. Still, if I must: Pasta. He's unreal right now, having already completed his first career 100-point season several games ago. Something's gonna happen anytime the puck's on his stick. Honorable mention to watching Patrice Bergeron as well, as this may be the last time he plays in Philadelphia, and no player in the modern era has better exemplified the mold of 2-way center.
(via Daily Faceoff)
Kevin Hayes--Noah Cates--Owen Tippett
Joel Farabee--Morgan Frost--Travis Konecny
JvR--Scott Laughton--Wade Allison
Nic Deslauriers--Tanner Lacyznski--Brendan Lemieux
Ivan Provorov--Rasmus Ristolainen
Travis Sanheim--Cam York
Nick Seeler--Justin Braun
Brad Marchand--Patrice Bergeron--Jake DeBrusk
Tyler Bertuzzi--Pavel Zacha--David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall--Charlie Coyle--Trent Frederic
A.J. Greer--Tomas Nosek--Garnet Hathaway
Matt Grzelcyk--Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm--Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril--Dmitry Orlov
It's a beautiful day. There's two Philadelphia sporting events. Broad Street Hockey is hosting a tailgate and BBQ in Lot G until 5 p.m. This song just gives the best sunny, warm weather vibes imaginable. Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and enjoy the holiday.