It was the longest year in Flyers history and it still feels like it ended prematurely.
From training camp to the Czech Republic to a historic November to a steady climb up the Metropolitan standings, the season ended in Toronto with a thud in a 4-0 Game 7 loss to the Islanders in the conference semifinals. Here are some observations from Game 7:
What went wrong? Pretty much the same thing that hurt the Flyers all series. Too much Islanders pressure, plus a gap in talent, multiplied by their stars outplaying the Flyers’ best players.
What’s next? The 2020-21 regular season is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1, but that’s a month after the election. We could be at war with Greenland by then.
Our three stars. Brock Nelson, Thomas Greiss, Mathew Barzal. Official three stars were Nelson, Greiss, Josh Bailey.
That wasn’t pretty. Two examples of the night’s problems were Claude Giroux getting stripped clean by Brock Nelson which led directly to an Islanders rush which Nelson finished off for the third goal. Then, to end the second period (which the Flyers had only three shots), the Islanders had the puck in the Flyers’ zone for the final 1 minute, 8 seconds. It looked like a power play.
Ripple effect. The Flyers were 0-for-2 on the power play, which moved them to 0-for-13 for the series. Beyond the obvious problem of not scoring, an impotent power play often gives momentum to the opposition. It took the Islanders 56 seconds after killing the Flyers’ first opportunity to score the game’s first goal. The Isles had six of the next seven shots following the kill and Andy Greene also scored for them.
Coots’ return. Sean Couturier returned to the lineup, saying that he missed Game 6 with a sprained MCL suffered on a hit in Game 5. He played 20 minutes, 44 seconds and was a minus-2. It was clear he was not himself.
Trade ya. Two players acquired by Lou Lamoriello at the trade deadline had fingerprints on this game. Jean-Gabriel Pageau had at least seven hits, and Andy Greene scored a goal. Of the two bottom of the lineup centers acquired by the Flyers, Nate Thompson didn’t do much and Derek Grant was scratched.
He’s an animal. Ivan Provorov took a puck flush on the knee (which he didn’t see coming) and went down like a ton of hockey pucks. Provorov, who has played in all 336 games in his pro career, didn’t miss a shift.
So’s he. Mathew Barzal took a puck off the head during pregame warmups, but shook off the scary incident. Then he took a stick to the schnoz from teammate Jordan Eberle in the second period. After some repairs by the Islanders’ cut man (I mean trainer), he also was right back out there.
Spot on. “A clinic on how to win a Game 7 by the New York Islanders,” analyst Keith Jones pointed out in the third period. “Up 3-0, and they continue to pressure the Flyers in the [Flyers’] defensive zone, making it extremely difficult for them to have clean breakout opportunities.”
Ugh. The Flyers are now 9-8 in Game 7. This is the first time they’d ever been shutout.
The final word. “There’s a tremendous amount of disappointment in the result. There’s disappointment not in our will, but in our game tonight. I don’t want to take anything away from the Islanders. But after those first six minutes, I don’t think we had the same pop in our game.”
-- Flyers coach Alain Vigneault