After an abysmal effort in 2014-15, it is safe to say that the Philadelphia Flyers exceeded the expectations of many this season, going 41-27-14 and clinching the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, the members of the orange and black should feel proud of their accomplishments thus far but you can bet that true satisfaction will not be obtained until the Flyers ultimate goal is reached. Taking on the NHL’s best team (according to points), the Washington Capitals, many give Philadelphia very little chance at making it out of the first round, let alone being crowned Stanley Cup Champions this summer.
However, crazier things have happened and no team should be counted out once the postseason officially begins this Wednesday night.
Here is your preview of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Why They Will Succeed
If it were not for the efforts demonstrated by the Flyers’ netminder, Philadelphia would not even be in the postseason. With the injury to Michal Neuvirth, Mason was called upon every night to give his team the opportunity to win and keep them in the playoff hunt. The Flyers goalie answered the call and put forth some of the best goaltending people had seen from him all season.
In the playoffs, it is all about goaltending. Teams have been able to ride a hot netminder all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and the Flyers are hoping to do the same this year. If Mason is on his game, he immediately increases Philadelphia’s chances at making an extended run in the postseason.
The Flyers’ captain is the heartbeat of this team on and off the ice. Teammates respect him not only as one of the NHL’s best players but also as a leader. There is no question that the orange and black will count on Giroux to produce at a high level and advance them through the playoffs.
Giroux’s past postseason success shows that he is capable of doing what it takes for his team to win. In 57 playoff games, he has recorded an impressive 23 goals and 38 assists.
Simmonds literally provides everything for this Flyers team. He is a scorer, fighter, instigator, motivator, and everything else in between. There is no question that a fire will be lit in this man’s heart and he will do everything in his power to make sure his teams sees past the first round of the playoffs.
What a rookie season “Ghost” has had for the Philadelphia Flyers! His offensive capabilities, 46 points in 64 games, make him a player deserving of special attention every time his skates touch the ice. In addition, his five game-winning goals this season prove that he is a master in clutch situations. If Gostisbehere is on his game, it takes pressure off of other key members of the Flyers which can only be viewed as a good thing.
The Underdog Mentality
No one is expecting the Flyers to make any noise in the postseason, and Philadelphia would have it no other way. Until two months ago, this team was not even viewed as a franchise with a realistic chance of making the playoffs and look where they are now. Philadelphia is one of the best at using the tag of the underdog as motivation to prove everyone else wrong and they hope it provides some extra energy when they look to knock out the first-place Capitals in round one.
Why They Won’t Succeed
The Philadelphia Flyers will depend heavily on strong play in net from Mason as they have this season. However, the Flyers’ netminder would appreciate a little help from his blueline. Philadelphia has allowed an average of 30.7 shots per game which keeps Mason and whoever else is between the pipes busy every single game.
Playing an offensive powerhouse such as the Capitals will be even more difficult if Philadelphia allows that amount of shots every game. The Flyers blueline is going to have to tighten up and prevent more shots from being put on the net if the team wants any chance at advancing past the first round.
A disciplined style of hockey normally is not in the Flyers wheelhouse, as they are known as an emotional team that is very susceptible to taking bad penalties. This does not bode well for a team that is in the bottom half of the league in regards to killing penalties. Philadelphia simply cannot afford to lose their cool for even a moment and take a costly penalty (yeah I’m talking to you Radko Gudas).
Will the real Jakub Voracek please stand up! Everyone is aware of Voracek’s offensive struggles this season as he has only managed 55 points compared to his 81 in 2014-15. The Flyers desperately need the Voracek of last season to reappear, if he even exists anymore. If Voracek can start producing more offensively, Philadelphia becomes a much scarier team to face.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.