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One Big Thing: Taking Flight
What’s Happening: The Philadelphia Flyers are on the rise and seem poised for a Stanley Cup run with a core group of young prospects and skilled veterans. BUT BUT BUT it’s been 10 seasons since the Flyers landed themselves in the playoffs two years in a row, so what can we expect from Philly in 2021?
Glass Half Full: If last season is any indication of where the Flyers are headed, they’re on the right track. The team finished the 2019-20 season near the top of the standings before March brought hockey to a halt. In the last 25 games of the season, the Flyers managed to land:
The best record in the NHL
The best goal differential
The most goals scored
The second-fewest goals allowed
Like we mentioned, Philadelphia also has a strong lineup of young talent heading into this season. After impressive rookie seasons, we expect Joel Farabee and Philippe Myers to take the lead. Then there’s Travis Konecny, a player who has just entered his prime.
And, crucially, the Flyers have finally found the answer in goal with Carter Hart, who gave the Flyers a chance to win in nearly every game during the 2020 playoffs. Flyers fans will look for him to build on that strong play this year.
(@nolan.konecny) Carter Hart and Travis Konecny will look to build on last year’s break out seasons.
The COVID Question: This season is going to look different from last, but that might be advantageous for the Flyers. If all goes as planned, Philadelphia will be in a division with eight other teams: Buffalo, Boston, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh and Washington. We expect the league to announce that the top four teams in each league will make the playoffs, which puts the Flyers in a pretty comfortable position.
The Glass … Less Full: Despite all this, critics will tell you that last season’s hot streak just isn’t sustainable.
As NBC Sports put it, the Flyers’ process last season “wasn’t exactly matching the results.” Sure, the team’s skaters shot as much as they could, and goalies Carter Hart and Brian Elliot made the goal impenetrable, but the Flyers’ underlying numbers were middling.
Holding things together was the Flyers’ impressive 12% shooting percentage at the end of the regular season, which made up for many of the team’s shortcomings. That unheard of rate is one the Flyers can’t count on replicating in 2021.
The Big Picture: It’s hard to judge how this season will go based on 2019-20, a season that was cut off so abruptly — and then restarted at the most intense moment after months away.
Based on Philadelphia’s regular season performance, it’s fully possible that the Flyers will once again find themselves in the playoffs, especially with Hart defending the goal and wild card young players like Myers and Farabee in the mix. But if they aren’t consistent throughout the entire regular season, it’s also possible that the Flyers will flop.
Insider Updates & Analysis
Breaking: Two suspects have been arrested in the Wayne Gretzky memorabilia case. The Gretzky family noticed that over half a million dollars worth of memorabilia was missing this summer and reported it to police, who have arrested individuals that “have been known to the Gretzky family for quite some time and, unknown to them, have been accumulating items over the years.”
Update: Vegas forward William Karlsson announced his engagement to Bachelor star Emily Ferguson.
Update: A Canadian historian is calling on the Vancouver Canucks to change its logo, which he says is cultural appropriation of Indigenous imagery. The historian’s remarks come days after new Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby was widely criticized for his new helmet.
Rumor: Mathew Barzal will likely get a bridge contract due to the Islanders salary cap crunch, Sportsnet reports. Barzal will be a free agent after this season.
Update: Mark Messier lost his $500,000 investment in cannabis company Destiny Bioscience. Messier filed a lawsuit against the Alberta-based company, saying he was given a “personal guarantee” that he wouldn’t lose his money. The company filed for bankruptcy after accumulating $42 million in debt.
Update: The NHL might sell ads on players’ helmets as the league looks to find new revenue sources.
Rumor: High level sources report that teams will play in their home arenas and only travel to play divisional opponents.
A Question for the Peanut Gallery
Will the Flyers make it to the Stanley Cup Finals next season?