The 2017-18 Philadelphia Flyers was a roller-coaster ride that ended with their second postseason berth in the last three years. The season was filled with great moments, goals, saves and players’ performances. Over the next couple of weeks, THW will take a deep look at each month of action. We will break down what happened in a specific month and what it meant to the season and the future of the franchise.
Slow Start to the Month
After their out-of-this-world February, it’s no surprise that the Flyers came back to Earth at the start of March. They started the second-to-last month of the season with a 0-4-1 record, and those losses dropped them from the top of the Metropolitan Division to the third spot.
The Flyers had some crushing losses during this streak. On Mar. 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they held leads of 3-1 and 5-3, but could not hold onto either of them. In fact, Tampa took a 6-5 lead, but a Claude Giroux marker tied the score with 2:53 left in regulation. They ended up losing in a shootout at Amalie Arena, extending the losing streak.
Two more losses later set up a big matchup with the Boston Bruins on Mar. 8. The game started off on a positive note as Nolan Patrick had a between-the-legs highlight reel pass to Jakub Voracek for the power-play goal.
The Bruins scored the next two, one from Brian Gionta who scored his first in the NHL since Mar. 27, 2017, for the Buffalo Sabres. Jori Lehtera, of all players, scored his first shorthanded goal since Nov. 11, 2014, to tie the game. The Flyers fought hard and were on the way to, at least, get a point in a tough Eastern Conference game, and a much-needed point in their playoff push. Brad Marchand had other ideas, though – with 22 seconds left, he scored the game-winning goal on a poor defensive play by Shayne Gostisbehere in front of the net. This was the last loss in the 0-4-1 swing, which turned into a 1-6-1 swing in the next three games.
Moment of the Month
The Flyers were slumping when they faced the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals on back-to-back nights. They took care of business on Mar. 17 in Raleigh with a 4-2 victory and pulled 12 points ahead of Carolina for a playoff spot. The next day is where we find our moment of the month for March.
Oskar Lindblom, since being recalled from the AHL on Feb. 19, was second on the team with 35 shot attempts in five-on-five play heading into the Mar. 18 matchup against the Washington Capitals. The rookie had his first NHL assist the night before against the Hurricanes, but was still searching for his first NHL goal.
Off a Caps turnover, and with 1:41 left in the second period, Voracek found Lindblom in the high slot, who fired home the memorable goal. Rookie teammate Nolan Patrick went to retrieve the puck and on his 17th career shot in his 14th career game, Lindblom finally had his first NHL goal.
These two games springboarded Lindblom to six points in his last 11 games, including the game-winning goal one game later against the New York Rangers. These moments from the Flyers young core are signs of good things to come this upcoming season.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The Flyers MVP, Claude Giroux, led the team with 19 points in the 15 games played in March. He also moved past Eric Lindros for fifth place on the Flyers all-time scoring list during this month. Travis Konecny led the team with eight goals, the most he had in any month of the season.
More unlikely goal scorers this month were Lehtera, who scored two of his three goals this season in 13 games played and Matt Read, fresh off being recalled from the AHL, who scored his first NHL goal in almost a year. Johnny Oduya played his only game in the Orange-and-Black, 12:22 to be exact, in a loss to the Florida Panthers on Mar. 4.
With Brian Elliott still nursing an injury, Petr Mrazek started ten games going 2-5-0 with a 3.66 goals against average and .876 save percentage. This stretch sealed his fate with the Flyers – he was not going to be a goalie for them to count on. Alex Lyon got four starts (2-1-0) and stopped 117 of the 129 shots he faced (0.907 SV%). Michal Neuvirth’s comeback from injury lasted only 28:07 when he left a game on Mar. 28 against the Colorado Avalanche with another lower-body injury.
The Flyers ended their season series with the Western Conference with that victory over the Avs at the end of the month. Overall, they ended 14-11-5 against the opposite conference. Voracek paced the team with 33 points (five goals, 28 assists) in the 30 games played. Giroux had the most goals with 13. Former Western Conference goalie, Elliott was 9-6-0 with a 2.55 GAA and .915 SV%.