Flyers’ 3 Stars From Round 1 Win Over Canadiens

The Philadelphia Flyers are officially on to the second round of the 2020 NHL playoffs after a narrow series win over the Montreal Canadiens.

As a team, the Flyers struggled in their six games with the Canadiens, at times making fans worry that an upset might be in order. They never had an explosive scoring night in any of the six games, and the Canadiens did what they do best in taking away the Flyers’ space through the neutral and offensive zones while sending sporadic waves of offense at their defense.

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens Travis Konecny Philadelphia Flyers
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens and Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Over the course of those six games, and especially after the abysmal result of Game 2, the Flyers did a tremendous job at adapting to the Canadiens’ style of play and finding ways to exploit it. Their Round 1 series win, the franchise’s first since 2012, came down to a couple of key performances. No one really led in the offensive end by any significant margin, but they saw everyone from their youngest stars to their seasoned veterans step up to get the job done.

Related: Revisiting the Brayden Schenn Trade

Although there are some names like Claude Giroux, Travis Sanheim, and Michael Raffl who deserve recognition for their performances throughout the first round, there were three players who clearly stood above the rest, helping the Flyers earn a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Jakub Voracek

There was no way of knowing what we might see out of Flyers’ veteran forward Jakub Voracek after the 31-year-old mustered just one point in two round-robin games.

However, Voracek led the way in the Flyers’ first-round win over the Canadiens. He led the team with four goals and seven points and was largely responsible for the small successful flashes of the Flyers’ power play.

Jakub Voracek Philadelphia Flyers
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Averaging 17:10 minutes of ice time throughout the six-game series, Voracek occupied the wing of the Flyers’ first line the whole time.

His goals were instrumental in their Game 1 and Game 3 wins, and despite a loss in Game 5, Voracek shined with two goals and an assist on the power play. He added 16 penalty minutes in that chaotic fifth game as well to go along with his 18 total in the series.

When he’s providing offensively and still playing a responsible defensive game, Voracek can be one of the Flyers’ biggest difference makers. He showed that against the Canadiens and they’ll need him to provide it again, especially on the struggling man-up unit, in their second-round meeting with the New York Islanders.

Ivan Provorov

On a nightly basis, there are very few Flyers as crucial to the lineup as Ivan Provorov. The 23-year-old defenseman consistently leads the team in average ice time, quarterbacks the point of the power play, and provides the occasional touch of offense while playing insanely sound and technical defense.

Ivan Provorov Philadelphia Flyers
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Throughout the series with the Canadiens, things didn’t change in terms of Provorov’s nightly responsibilities. He led the team in ice time, averaging 25:16 across six games with his highest total being a remarkable 26:44 in Game 3.

Provorov’s contributions stretch far beyond just eating up ice time. He racked up nine shots throughout the series, adding assists in Games 1 and 5, and a critical opening goal in Game 6.

He was also clinical on the back end through the series. Things seem to shut down for the opposing offense when Provorov is on the ice, as he closes gaps well with an effective and active stick and makes opponents pay for even the smallest offensive mistake. He’s also good for the occasional blocked shot, including an impressive six blocks in the Game 2 blowout.

It’s safe to say that Provorov is one of many young, emerging defensive stars in the league. His role with the Flyers is so incredibly important and for a 23-year-old he handles it like a true veteran. Just as he was against the Canadiens, Provorov is going to be key for the Flyers to succeed against the Islanders.

Carter Hart

Surprised? Probably not. There was really no Flyer that could’ve earned the first-star honors for the first-round series other than goaltender Carter Hart.

Carter Hart Philadelphia Flyers
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Game after game, the 22-year-old star showed that he’s one of the league’s brightest new netminders, going toe-to-toe with his childhood idol, Carey Price, at the other end. His incredible focus, puck-tracking, and lateral movement make him such a technically sound goaltender to go along with his composed and professional demeanor.

The highlight of Hart’s series obviously came in the form of back-to-back shutouts in Games 3 and 4. Those 23 and 29-save efforts, along with a shutdown, 31-save Game 6, were ultimately what earned the Flyers a series win.

What was most impressive about those back-to-back clean sheets was that they came after a brutal Game 2, in which Hart gave up 4 goals on 26 shots. That ability to bounce back after an uncharacteristic performance is exactly what the Flyers needed out of Hart, and he proved he was up to the task.

Related: Flyers’ 50-Goal Scorers

Through the first-round series, and as will probably be the case for the remainder of their postseason, Hart is the most important player on the ice for the Flyers. Against a fast-paced, dangerous, offensive team like the Islanders, they’ll need Hart at the top of his game once again for a chance at success.

The Flyers struggled against the Islanders throughout the regular season, but the two teams have yet to meet since entering the bubble. In order to succeed against the red-hot Islanders, the Flyers are going to have to see more incredible series-long performances out of guys like Hart, Provorov, and Voracek, along with many others.