Welcome to the last Philadelphia Flyers Monday report of the 2017-18 season. What a run it was for the team, going from a 10-game losing streak to making the postseason. The Flyers had MVP candidates, Selke Trophy candidates and, once again, disappointment from their goaltenders. For one final time, let’s break down what happened as the Flyers lost their first-round series in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins and look ahead to the first week of the NHL off-season.
The Week That Was for the Flyers
The Flyers week did not get off to a good start. In Tuesday’s practice before the pivotal Game 4, Sean Couturier collided with Radko Gudas causing the top line center to injure his knee.
#BREAKING Our @6abc video of @NHLFlyers star Sean Couturier going DOWN at practice today after colliding with Radko Gudas. He limps off with the trainer. Claude Giroux told me "it didn't look good." So far no update from the #Flyers #NHLPlayoffs2018 #EarnTomorrow pic.twitter.com/SlfplFKjUd
— Jamie Apody (@JamieApody) April 17, 2018
On the same day, the 25-year-old was named a Selke Trophy finalist for the first-time. “Coots” is vying to become the first Flyer to capture the award since Dave Poulin in 1987 and the third winner in franchise history (also Bobby Clarke, 1983).
Couturier was not able to go in for the crucial Game 4 and the Flyers surely missed him. Five different Penguins scored in a 5-0 Pittsburgh victory to take a 3-1 series lead. The Flyers didn’t challenge the Pens at all and when the dust settled, they had been outscored 10-1 in the two home games of the series. More on this in a bit.
With their backs against the wall, and the obituary of their season already set in draft mode, the Flyers got an emotional Game 5 victory, 4-2, at PPG Paints Arena. Couturier showed a heroic performance scoring the game-winning goal with 1:15 left in the third. Couturier played only 16:55, centering the third line, but made his impact on the penalty kill, playing 6:15, and was the subject of our social media post of the week. He was compared to a Philadelphia legend.
Giroux said Couturier texted him after morning skate today that he was playing, a la Pronger in Game 6 vs Buffalo in 2011 (Pronger told the team he was playing that game after naps). #Flyers #Penguins
— Marcus Hayes (@inkstainedretch) April 21, 2018
Couturier did his best to try to force a Game 7 with a hat trick and five points in an 8-5 season-ending loss in Game 6. After the game, Couturier told reporters he had a torn right MCL from the hit he absorbed from Gudas. What a great effort from “Coots” but the same cannot be said by the team defense and goaltending. The 28 goals against was a franchise record for a six-game series and tied the record for most in any series.
In the Dave Hakstol era, the Flyers have struggled on home ice in the postseason. In two playoffs, they have a 1-5 home record being outscored 26-9, outshot 172-162 and their power play is just 1-for-23 – all numbers that will have to turn around for this team to make a deep playoff run.
Down on the farm, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms started their bid to make a deep run towards the Calder Cup with a series split with the Providence Bruins. Danick Martel had two goals and two assists in the two games. Alex Lyon started both games stopping 70 of the 76 shots he faced. The series shifts to the PPL Center for the next three possible games starting on Friday.
What to Watch for This Week
The offseason begins for the Flyers during the NHL Draft Lottery that will be held on Saturday, Apr. 28 in Toronto. The Flyers will be paying close attention to where the St. Louis Blues draft pick falls due to the fine print of the Brayden Schenn deal.
The rules are, if St. Louis’ 2018 first-round pick ends up being a top 10 pick, the Blues have the option to keep the 2018 first-round pick and send Philadelphia their 2019 first-round pick instead. If the pick is transferred to 2019, the Flyers will also receive a 2020 third-round pick.
Just a refresher of the new NHL Draft Lottery rules – there are now three drawings of the 15 clubs that did not make the playoffs. The first drawing will decide who picks first, the second who will pick second and the last one is who will pick third. The rest of the teams will then slide into selections 4 through 15, in inverse order of regular-season points.
The Blues, who finished with the 14th-worst record, hold a 1.5% chance of getting the top pick, a 1.8% chance to win the second pick, and a 1.0% chance of winning the third pick. We all remember though that the Flyers last year held a 2.4% chance of receiving the second overall selection, which they won to select Nolan Patrick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
More future Flyers to watch this week are in the OHL playoffs, as three prominent prospects are fighting it out for J. Ross Robertson Cup. In the Western Conference, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, led by Morgan Frost, are up 2-0 against the Kitchener Rangers, whose captain, Connor Bunnaman, was a Flyers fourth-round pick back in 2016. That series continues Monday, Wednesday, Friday and possibly Sunday next week. Frost has six goals and 18 points in 13 playoff games.
In the Eastern Conference, the Hamilton Bulldogs lead the Kingston Frontenacs 3-0. Matthew Strome, the Flyers fourth-round pick in 2017, has 14 points in 12 games played. They drop the puck for Game 4 on Tuesday in Kingston with Game 5, if necessary, this Thursday and Game 6, if necessary, is Saturday this week.
Former Producer for the NHL Network and Fantasy Insider for NHL.com. Emmy award winning ESPN alum & former PR for the Flyers & Phantoms. Proud Temple Univ. Grad.