In what was probably the most surprising series of the First Round, the Philadelphia Flyers managed to just barely edge out the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in Game 6 to win their First Round matchup 4-2. It wasn’t a pretty victory, which was kind of the story for the Flyers in the First Round as they were outplayed for the majority of the series. However, good teams find a way to get it done and that is exactly what the Flyers did. The Philadelphia Flyers relied on their defence and Carter Hart to steal this series. Something they’re going to want to change as they make their run to the Stanley Cup.
Carter Hart and the Defence the Story for the Flyers in Their First Round Victory
The Flyers defence did it all in their First Round matchup. The Flyers were outshot in every single game except for Game 1 of this series. However, the Philadelphia Flyers defence along with Carter Hart managed to get the job done. The Flyers decided to utilize a neutral zone trap in order to stifle the Canadiens. The Canadiens struggled to beat this which was shown in Game 3 and 4 as the Canadiens were shutout in both games. They also took this approach in the third period of Game 6, hanging onto a 3-2 victory. However, every time the Flyers would try to open up, the Canadiens would jump all over them and start taking over the game. Ivan Provorov lead the way for the Flyers playing over 25 minutes per game. Followed by Matt Niskanen who played over 22 minutes per game.
Carter Hart Defeats His Idol Carey Price
Hart was victorious in what was the first playoff series of his young career. Hart posted a solid goals-against average of 1.95 and a save percentage of .935 with two shutouts in the series. While Carey Price slightly edged out Hart in both save percentage and goals-against average, it was Hart who came out on top. Hart showed the ability to roll with the top goaltenders in the league. He came up big when he needed to as the Canadiens were the better offensive team during the series.
When Hart was faced with adversity after being pulled in Game 2, he showed the determination to bounce back and put up back to back shut outs in Game 3 and 4. Watching Hart, he looks like a young Carey Price, which surely is the person he tries to model his game after. His first Stanley Cup Playoff victory coming against his childhood idol will certainly be something he remembers for the rest of his life.
Flyers Offence Needs to Get Going
If the Flyers have any hope of continuing their Stanley Cup run, they need their offence to get going. Despite winning the series, the Flyers were outscored 13-11 by the Canadiens in the First Round. They were also outshot 178-149. However, as noted, the defence and Carter Hart stole the series for the Flyers. In Game 6, all three goals came off deflections, the first two by the Canadiens’ own players, and the third goal didn’t even count as a shot on goal. In fact, six of the Flyers 11 goals came off of Canadiens’ players. To say lady luck was on the Flyers side in this series is an understatement.
All things considered, you can really say they didn’t even deserve to win the series. Travis Konecny, who lead the Flyers with 61 points in the regular season, only registered one assist in six games. The same for Kevin Hayes, who scored 41 points in 69 games in the regular season, managed just three points, two coming in Game 6 off deflections off Habs players. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek basically did all the heavy lifting on offence with Vorachek scoring 36 percent of the team’s goals.
That said, the Flyers have the offensive ability and depth to bounce back. However, it’s not going to get any easier. The Flyers are now matching up against the New York Islanders in the Second Round, a team that only allowed eight goals in five games to a high scoring Washington Capitals team. The Flyers need to find a way to get their depth going and get some support for the defence and
Series Overshadowed by the Loss of Claude Julien and Brendan Gallagher for the Canadiens
After a Game 1 loss, Claude Julien was sent to the hospital due to chest pains. He ended up having a stent put in his coronary artery. This forced him to miss the remainder of the playoffs for the Canadiens. Kirk Muller took over as the Canadiens bench boss and the Canadiens answered back with a 5-0 win in Game 2. The Canadiens continued to play well under Muller, however, lost another important piece of their offence as Brendan Gallagher suffered a broken jaw from a brutal cross-check to the face from Flyers defenceman Matt Niskanen. Gallagher would have to miss Game 6 while Niskanen only received a one-game suspension. Something NHL Player Safety was criticized greatly for on social media, and rightfully so.
In conclusion, the Flyers were good but not great against the Canadiens. If they have any hope in beating the Islanders, they are going to need the offence to get going. They also need to utilize their depth. Getting outscored and outshot over the span of the series is not normally the recipe for success. However, the Flyers somehow managed to pull it off. Certainly, the Flyers, who finished seventh overall in goals for in the regular season will find a way to start finding the back of the net.
The issue is the Islanders play stingy hockey. So it’s not getting any easier for the Flyers. Not only that, but they are also firing on all cylinders so far in the postseason. Containing Mathew Barzal is going to be a tough ask for the Flyers. The Flyers defence and Carter Hart will need to be just as good against the Islanders as they were against the Canadiens.