Despite being an underdog heading into their first playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers not just because of how great the city in general has been as of late in sports, but also due to how the team ended the regular season.
The Penguins went up 1-0 on Bryan Rust's score 2:38 into the game. "I didn't really expect us to be". Philadelphia's top unit is undoubtedly risky, with Giroux, Voracek, and Gostisbehere landing seventh, ninth, and 10th, respectively, in regular-season power-play points.
Philadelphia's best chance at staying in it came minutes later, but Scott Laughton whiffed on his first attempt from the doorstep and Murray made a sprawling glove save on Laughton's second try to preserve Pittsburgh's lead.
The Golden Knights are facing the Kings, who are a wild card team, in the first round of the playoffs. The Penguins kind of need the off time to regroup and get ready for the draft, but their playing probably won't get them back to the finals this year. It won't be an easy route for them, but they have a team that could surprise a lot of hockey fans. More importantly, the team has a healthy Kris Letang once again. It's not fun going into (last) summer, and everybody's talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins winning their second Stanley Cup in a row.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray and Flyers goalie Brian Elliott would like to move past lackluster regular seasons. Instead, those players who are on teams that didn't make it will be just like all of us, watching the playoffs from their couches. Even though both teams are pretty similar, I am predicting that the city of Nashville, which to hockey fans is called Smashville, will be the ones going insane on the streets in the dark when they win the Stanley Cup and become champions for the 2017-2018 NHL season.
Both Krug and Grant had the best seasons of their professional careers in 2017-18. The former shutdown ace has become a two-way force, putting up career offensive numbers while maintaining his beefy possession stats. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux appeared fatigue after an extended power-play shift and neither guy provided Shayne Gostisbehere with any backchecking help.
Whoever is in net for the Flyers, it won't matter if the play in front of them isn't better.
But, the Flyers are one of few teams that present a group of superstars potentially capable of matching the Pens' relentless output. The Golden Knights not only made the playoffs, but also won the Pacific Division, and they will face the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.
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But as of Infinity War , he's at least running with the team - and he's sporting that Iron Spider suit to boot. However, fans looking for Hawkeye and Ant-Man will have to wait just a little bit longer.
That's just the thing about the Flyers though.
Special Teams - On paper, it was not a bad night for the penalty kill. Mrazek came over in a trade from Detroit at the deadline, but he hasn't exactly been a savior with a 3.22 goals-against average and a.891 save percentage in 17 games (15 starts) with Philadelphia.
"Right now, my first instinct is yeah", Hakstol said when asked if Elliott would start Game 2.
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Both of these teams are no strangers to the postseason.
If the Flyers are able to avoid taking bad penalties, find a consistent goalie, and get production from their top d-men, then I think they have a real shot to upset the reigning champion, Penguins. Not a good combination.
Part of me is very tempted to predict the Flyers as a team that gets blown out by seven goals should have sufficient motivation the next time out. There are many intriguing matchups in this first round, but perhaps none as anticipated as the Flyers vs. Penguins series. While that certainly isn't an exact scientific measurement, typically that same gimmick reaches only 100 in the regular season. Murray has endured a hard season both on and off the ice, but had a.923 save percentage in games against the Flyers. In games in which they allowed at least five goals this season, the Flyers went 7-5-2 in their next contest... Couturier has developed into one of the league's best two-way forwards.