Flyers Lose Series, But It Wasn’t All Bad: Flyers Positive Takeaways
As beer cans and other trash fell to the ice, Flyers fans knew the series was over. The Penguins were about to get on I-76 West and head home victorious. The Flyers had just put it all on the line at a chance for game 7, but fell short, losing 8-5. But in all reality, the Flyers ended the season exactly where our expectations should have had them finish. The Penguins are just the better coached and more talented team. However, there were some positive takeaways for the Flyers, giving us reason to look forward to the future.
During the course of the series, a great portion of the team played underwhelmingly. The Manning-Gudas defensive pairing combined for a -6 and zero points, per nhl.com/stats. Big names such as Jakub Voracek, Ivan Provorov, and Wayne Simmonds were goal-less in the series. Petr Mrazek’s .857 SV% was the best of the Flyers goalies, despite only playing 30 minutes in a relief effort in game 1. And unfortunately, it’s easier to find statistics going against the Flyers than it is to find positive ones. But I’m an optimist, so bear with me.
Some Stars Shine Brighter Than Others
Sean Couturier is an absolute monster. In games 1-5, he managed to rack up four points, three of which came in game 2. And then in game 6, facing elimination, Couturier erupted for five points, including a hat-trick. That, in itself, is impressive enough to me. However, it turns out Couturier played games 5 and 6 on a torn MCL. Carson Wentz finishes his drives, Sean Couturier finishes his series.You just have to love the level of competitiveness athletes in this city have.
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2018
I’d have laughed at you two weeks ago if you told me I’d be typing this right now. But the other veteran I would love to give credit to in this series is Andrew MacDonald. I did not expect to have any positive takeaways regarding MacDonald, usually its the opposite. The most criticized player on this Flyers roster due to his excessive contract, MacDonald played this series with heart and grit. He not only scored two goals, he was one of only eight Flyers players who were not in the negative for plus/minus, at an even 0. When pucks needed to be cleared from our zone, he cleared them. When a Penguin was open in front of our net, he got a body on them. I didn’t understand why he got voted an alternate-caption by his teammates at first. But in this series, he proved me wrong.
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2018
The Kids Are Alright
Another Flyers player who really stuck out in this series was Nolan Patrick. The 19-year old second-overall pick, in his first-ever NHL playoff series, played hungry during every shift. Although his stats were underwhelming at 1G-1A and -5, much of that was due to his role of defending either Evgeni Malkin or Derick Brassard. His 16 shots on goal tied for the lead on the team with only Shayne Gostisbehere. He rushed the net, battled for the puck, and played defense as needed on every shift. At only 19 years old, he is already a player that his teammates should look to for inspiration.
Finally, there’s number 11. You couldn’t watch two straight minutes of this series without noticing Travis Konecny on the ice. The kid is everywhere. He gets under the skin of opponents before the puck is even dropped. Although he only had one point in the series, his impact goes way beyond the score sheet. Although Konecny can be undisciplined at times, some positive takeaways are that he is so competitive and fierce in his game. He likes to throw his body around, isn’t afraid to get scrappy, and has incredible hockey talent. Once he learns not to retaliate and to stay out of the box, he could be one of the league’s best players at drawing penalties. He is going to be a nightmare for opponents for a very long time.
Travis Konecny and Conor Sheary sum up Flyers v Penguins rather well… pic.twitter.com/EQmUxETSWh
— Marc Farzetta (@MarcFarzetta) April 22, 2018
At Least They Made It, Right?
Calling this Flyers season a roller-coaster ride would be an understatement. They finished October at 6-6, then had a ten-game losing streak, followed by a six-game win streak, all before Christmas. Claude Giroux put together an MVP-caliber season at age 30, and Simmond’s injury kept him from reaching anywhere near his potential. The Flyers had both goaltenders go down due to injury in a matter of days, yet found a way to get the points necessary to make the playoffs. When you face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, not everything is going to go your way. Officiating, coaching, and defensive lapses were all possible contributors to the Flyers loss, however today I am focusing on the positive takeaways. The future is bright for the Orange and Black.
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Featured image: @JeremyEye via Flickr