So, you’ve decided to watch some hockey because you’re starved for any kind of sports action. But, you’re not really familiar with the hometown team the Flyers. Yes the hockey team the Flyers. Fear not! Here’s everything you need to know about the team with the fourth best odds (!!!) to win a championship.
Alain Vigneault for the Jack Adams Award (that’s coach of the year)
You probably just read that name wrong. It’s ok most people do at first. Let’s walk through it. A-lane-Vin-yo. There you go! You now know how to correctly pronounce the new Flyers head coach’s name!
AV has been at the helm of the Flyers dramatic turnaround from dead in the water mediocrity to bona-fide contender, all in just one season on the job! He was hired to replace interim Scott Gordon who finished last season after Dave Hakstol was fired. Think of Hakstol as the Flyers’ very own Chip Kelly. He was a college coach with no prior pro experience who had some early success and then bombed dramatically.
Vigneault was the seemingly “boring” hire, not unlike Doug Pederson. However, AV had much more head coaching experience than Dougie P, including taking two different teams to the finals. Vigneault has overseen a Flyers team that was surging towards first place in their division a year after missing the playoffs, finishing one point back due to the shortened season. Nevertheless, with the new playoff format, the Flyers do have a bye, and well…
Last time a Philly team had a bye week: pic.twitter.com/pSIOBvxIIs— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) May 26, 2020
Claude Giroux is GOOD
You’re gonna hear a lot about the Flyers captain in the coming weeks. Giroux has been the face of the franchise ever since his breakout season in 2011-2012. You’re gonna hear a lot of stuff such as “sTrIp tHe C” or “_laude” or a variety of other lackluster criticisms.
Ignore them. Giroux is an elite player who, despite being saddled with bad to mediocre teams and bad line-mates at times, made the Flyers somewhat competitive the last 8 years. Giroux doesn’t rack up gaudy goal numbers like Alex Ovechkin, but what he does instead is draw attention to free up his teammates to make plays and then feed them with beautifully placed passes along with steady goal numbers. In other words, think of the Giroux haters as the Nick Foles stans (except Flyers fans have been dealing with it much longer).
Claude Giroux's array of moves in tight is pretty absurd. He basically has 5 different ones he can hit you with and he can do them in any sequence depending on the mood pic.twitter.com/gpBFzkTKBv— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) May 27, 2020
Travis Konecny is your new favorite player
This year’s breakout player is Travis Konecny. TK finished the shortened season with a career high 61 points in 66 games. It was his third straight season with exactly 24 goals, but of course there’s reason to believe he would have set a new career high if the season wasn’t cut short.
Besides all that, the reason he is now your new favorite player is he is a s*** talker extraordinaire. Seriously. You can spend hours watching his highlights on YouTube and never actually see him score. Despite being only 5’10, Konecny doesn’t mind skating up to guys that tower over them, looking them in the eye, and calling them a nerd, among other things. This guy embodies the underdog spirit that Philadelphia loves.
Welcome to the Church of Carter Hart
Long have we waited. We have traversed the great BryzgalovLeightonNeuvirth desert for 20 years. Until finally, we have found the one who will lead us out of terrible goaltending and into the promised land. Have you heard the good news of Carter Hart? He is the one who saves pucks and the protector of leads. He hath cast out all the goaltenders of years past and hath stakes claim to his glorious net for years to come.
Alright but seriously, young Carter Hart is the goaltender that Flyers fans have been waiting for ever since Ron Hextall retired in 1999. At just two years older than Jayson Tatum at 21, Hart has finally brought stability to a Flyers net that has seen its share of horrific play for the last two decades. The Flyers goaltenders are what cornerbacks are to the Eagles and what right fielders were to the Phillies before Bryce Harper. It was a revolving door of washed up vets, failed prospects, and injury prone mediocrity. To borrow a phrase from Sixers history, Hart has become The Answer.
Kevin Hayes: A Free Agent acquisition that worked
Philadelphia doesn’t have a tremendous track record when it comes to big money free agents. In just the last five years we’ve had a cavalcade of bad contracts such as Jake Arrieta, DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, and the current crown holder for worst contract, Al Horford. The Flyers are no strangers to this (See Bryzgalov, Ilya.) But, after trading for the rights to Kevin Hayes, it seems they have hit on one. At the time it was debatable whether Hayes was worth the $7M a season he received from the Flyers.
Hayes was worth the money in year one. He provided desperately needed production out of the second line center position. His presence has removed some pressure off the Flyers younger players and has alleviated the loss of Nolan Patrick. Oh, and he’s also great at producing sound bites.
Finally, the biggest storyline of the Flyers season has been Oskar Lindblom. After playing in 30 games and looking on pace for a career year, the 23 year old Lindblom was diagnosed Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer in December.
The team and the fans rallied around Lindblom, wearing #OskarStrong shirts and raising money for the NHL’s “Hockey Fights Cancer” initiative. Even rival teams such as the hated Pittsburgh Penguins have shown their support for the young man going through a tremendous battle.
As of the end of April, Lindblom was preparing to begin his last rounds of treatment. Even though in all likelihood he would not be able to attend any of the Flyers playoff games in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he will assuredly be watching his teammates as they make a run to the Stanley Cup.
Imagine a scene where the team is holding the Stanley Cup while wearing #OskarStrong shirts. Win one for Oskar.