Philadelphia Flyers: Sizing up the Toronto Maple Leafs

While the Flyers earned the season series victory, the Leafs proved they are capable of battling back on multiple occasions.

Out of the lower seeded teams, the Leafs are the only one that the Flyers don’t have a lot of history with. Being in a separate division, they don’t see Toronto as often as most of the other lower ranked seeds.

There is one difference between the Leafs and the other teams. They are the only lower ranked team that the Flyers could face as the number one seed.  That is if every series ends up with the lower seeded team winning.

That would mean the Penguins, Hurricanes and Islanders would come out on top in their five game series. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that’s how things played out. But there is almost certainly going to be an upset of some sort. That’s just how the playoffs seem to work.

The Leafs come in as the eighth ranked team in the Eastern Conference. The only way they would face the Flyers is if they captured the top seed in the conference. And if no other higher ranked teams won in the play-in round.

The two teams faced each other three this season. The Flyers did get points during all three games, going 2-0-1.

Two of their matchups came in November, over the span of a week. And the first was a back and forth affair that took an 11-round shootout to determine a winner.

November 2nd: 4-3 Leafs (SO)

In a game that saw two goals in each period, it was one in which the Flyers weren’t able to pull off, despite having the early third period lead. It was one of two brief leads the team had.

But no lead was safe in this game as the score was tied three separate times. The Leafs only lead was when they scored the first goal of the game. They did get the final goal that mattered, though.

The Flyers has plenty of opportunities to take control of the game as they had six power play chances. They scored on two of them. That was a big difference in the game. The goals on the man advantage came in the first and second period.

The Flyers couldn’t cash in on an overtime power play, their biggest chance to take the win. Instead, the two teams went to what turned out to be a lengthy shootout.

11 different Flyers had a chance to score, their only goal coming from Travis Konecny in the eighth round. Brian Elliott was unable to shut it down as Jason Spezza answered to keep it going.

Andreas Johnsson would grab the game winner in the 11th round after Ivan Provorov failed to score. It was the longest shootout in Leafs franchise history.

It would be exactly a week later when the two teams met again. That’s when the Flyers got their revenge.

November 9th: 3-2 Flyers (SO)

It was another shootout that was the deciding factor between the two teams. This one would not be as lengthy, though. The Flyers would pull this one out in the normal three rounds.

But this all came after a blown 2-0 lead. Philippe Myers and Oskar Lindblom scored in the first to give the Flyers the early lead. It was one they could not hold on to, however.

Travis Dermott scored midway through the second and William Nylander grabbed them equalizer early in the third.

Mitch Marner would end up leaving the game early in the second as he suffered an ankle injury. That was a big loss for the Leafs with other half of the game still left to play.

After nothing doing in overtime, the teams went to their second consecutive shootout to determine a winner. That’s when Claude Giroux decided to fire a slap shot from in close. He managed to beat Frederick Andersen who may have been surprised by the shot.

Elliott was unable to close it out as Nylander kept the game going with a goal in the top of the third round. But Couturier, as he often does, came in clutch with the game-winner.

He had scored the overtime winner against the Canadiens and had the shootout winner against the Devils. It was his third game-winning goal in the team’s last five games.

Shootouts won’t matter when the playoffs come around. So these outcomes don’t necessarily paint us a picture of what could come if these two met in the postseason.

It’s the final game where the Flyers broke things wide open that can truly help us.

December 3rd: 6-1 Flyers

It was a dominant affair by the Flyers, coming away with the win to end the season series with the Leafs. They pulled away with five third period goals. It turned out to be the Flyers fifth win in a row, making them 6-0-1 in their last seven.

The first goal of the game didn’t come until the second period when Scott Laughton put Philadelphia on the board first. That lead would make it until almost midway through the third.

Dermott scored the Leafs only goal. It was after that when Toronto completely fell apart. The Flyers five goals in the third where scored in 9:33. Giroux got the lead for good when he scored under two minutes after Dermott tied the game.

For good measure, Konecny, Joel Farabee, Shayne Gostisbehere, and James van Riemsdyk also scored. Farabee’s goal came via an empty netter as the Leafs tried to get anything going.

While it didn’t show in the last game, the Leafs are at team that can fight back with the best of them.

That was evident in the first games against the Flyers. They have the top-end talent and goaltending to win a game. Finding away to limit their stars and get a few goals past Andersen are keys to victory.

The Flyers held Auston Matthews to just two points, both coming in the second game. Marner grabbed a goal in the first contest. They also held John Tavares pointless.

Keeping those guys off the scoreboard would go a long way in a seven-game series.

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