When NHL returns, fans will see Flyers not a fluke


Photo courtesy of NHL.com

Captain Claude Giroux and the Flyers finished with the sixth most points in the NHL prior to the coronavirus shutdown. They will hopefully resume their bid for a Stanley Cup in late July or early August when NHL play resumes.

John Zawislak, Sports Editor

The entire sports world halted due to the coronavirus pandemic March 12, and the NHL was no different. 

Leading up to that point, the Philadelphia Flyers were the hottest team in hockey — lifting themselves to second place in the Metropolitan Division thanks to nine wins in their final 10 games before the shutdown. 

It has been a long process for the NHLPA and NHL to come to a deal, but the two sides have recently struck an agreement to resume the season.

The NHL recently passed a new 24-team playoff format in which the top four teams in each conference will face each other for reseeding, while the other remaining 16 teams will participate in a five-game, play-in series against teams based on their regular-season records.

The plan gives the top four teams in each conference a chance to get some games under their belts while the other teams continue to fight their way through the playoffs.

The Flyers, who sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, can only improve their standing. They either can enhance their seeding or remain in the same place.

A league press release June 11 stated that training camp — Phase 3 of the league’s plan to return — will resume July 10. Phase 4 is a return to playing games. 

“Formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10, provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play,” the press release states. “The length of training camp and, therefore, the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date.”

Since the Flyers caught fire a month-and-a-half leading up to the suspension of the season, many experts have been pondering if the Flyers were just a mediocre team that got lucky at the right time. 

Will they be able to recapture their dominance after the break?  

Veterans of this Flyers team will ultimately provide the answer, and there is evidence that they will. 

Looking deeper into those teams the Flyers beat on that nine-game winning streak, they weren’t just getting lucky against good teams but also beating teams they were just flat out better than.

During that nine-game win streak, the Flyers beat the Blue Jackets twice, the Jets, the Sharks, the Rangers twice, the Capitals, the Hurricanes, and the Sabres. Many of those games could have been considered trap games, because a normal Flyers team would just overlook them, but this team is different. 

This is a Flyers team that is under the coaching of Alain Vigneault that has shown the philosophy of taking the one-game-at-a-time approach and is ready for every game no matter who the team is.

Another thing that proves that this Flyers team is different and can continue their dominance after the suspension is the consistent goaltending the Flyers have had this year from star goaltender Carter Hart and proven veteran Brian Elliott.

Last season, the Flyers broke the record for most goaltenders to start for a team in a season with nine different netminders, and it showed in their record. One year later, the Flyers have only had to start three goaltenders and have gotten stellar numbers from both Hart and Elliott, and because of that it has helped bring life to this Flyers team — life that many Flyers fans haven’t seen for a long time. 

To many fans during this hot stretch, the difference was perceptible. This was not a fluke, this was real. Combined with strong veterans and a youthful bunch of skill, this team was fun and dangerous. 

When play resumes in late July or August, I believe the rest of the NHL is going to see that they still are.