Despite the Flyers being knocked out in the second round, it wasn’t all bad news during the postseason.
The Philadelphia Flyers took a big step forward this season. While their season ended in the second round, what they accomplished cannot be forgotten simply because they didn’t make it all the way. They turned into a contender in the East after just one season under Alain Vigneault.
This team proved to everyone that they had the talent to put it all together. And while things didn’t go well for everyone during the playoffs, there were still some positives to take away from their time in Toronto.
They swept the round-robin portion, entering the first round as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They were one win away from making it to the ECF for the first time since 2010.
There were strong performances from some of the younger players in the lineup. Carter Hart, Philippe Myers, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Joel Farabee, and Connor Bunnaman made their NHL playoff debuts. There was a trust within the Flyers to give their youth an opportunity to shine.
And some of those players took the opportunity and ran with it. The first three made their impacts in various ways. Farabee has some up and down performances, similar to his rookie season. And Bunnaman only had a few games under his belt, but him being there was a sign of trust, to begin with.
So there are more than a few positives the Flyers could take from this postseason run.
The play of Hart has long been talked about. In fact, we’ve already spoken at length about his impact on the team during the postseason. Aside from one game during the Montreal series, he was the Flyers best player on the ice.
And he was a huge reason the team was able to make it as far as they did. His strength in net gave them multiple opportunities to come back and win games they possibly should not have. That included a couple of overtime games against the New York Islanders.
He may not have posted the best numbers among all goaltenders. Hart is still tied for second with two shutouts, though. This was his first taste of postseason action, however. Keeping that in mind, you can see just how impressive his stats are.
There should be no questions about how far he can lead this team after the performances he put on during the playoffs. And this came as he went from a 21-year-old to a 22-year-old during those games.
After a long and tough battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, Oskar Lindblom was back on the ice. And not just in a practice setting. He made his way back to playing in meaningful games.
He made his postseason debut during Game Six against the Islanders. He had started skating in warmups a few games prior. But after both Sean Couturier and Farabee were out due to injuries, the Flyers penciled him into the lineup.
He was welcomed right away when his opening shift was almost two minutes long. He was eased in slightly otherwise, appearing on the team’s third line. Lindblom would end up with 17:30 of ice time. And that was similar to most of his games during the regular season.
So the team didn’t hold him back much after they inserted him into the lineup. In the final game, he jumped up to play with Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes. The trio had success with each other during the regular season. He was originally not expected to re-join the lineup until Game One of the ECF. That was if the Flyers had made it that far.
With a few months to go until next season is tentatively set to being, Lindblom is on target to be a full-time participant once again. That is truly the biggest positive to take away.
Defense Turns Into Offense
The Flyers defense combined for eight goals and 28 points during the postseason. They were led by Ivan Provorov with eight points. He tied with Myers with three goals. Each of the two defensemen had an overtime winner as well.
It was the younger defensemen who shined more so than the veterans. Matt Niskanen had a tough time establishing himself and there wasn’t much, either way, to say about Justin Braun. Myers and Sanheim were strong during the opening of the playoffs, though they struggled together in the Islanders series. It was the first experience for Myers, while Sanheim had only a few prior postseason games under his belt.
They still had some standout moments during that series. They will get better with time as this was a good experience for both of them.
Those three alone, though, had almost 68% of the points among the defensemen. The youth of the group proved to be strong more often than not in that regard.