The Flyers are not in the playoffs this year, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a fun playoff season so far. We saw Boston get humiliated in the first round. In the second round, it was Edmonton’s and Toronto’s turn to consistently disappoint their fans as they always do. Some things never change.
So, with the Conference Finals here, who should you be rooting for? Likewise, who will probably move on to the next round?
Eastern Conference Finals
This is a good battle between two good teams: the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers. It’s been a while since both teams have made it this far. How will they hold up and who should you root for?
Carolina is in the Metro Division. They are headed up by former Flyer great Rod Brind’Amour. This is his fifth year as head coach of the Canes. In fact, it was his first year as head coach that Carolina last made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, having been swept by the Boston Bruins. Carolina did do us all a solid by dispatching the New Jersey Devils in five games; some of them just brutal offensive outputs by a team that has lost a lot of their firepower due to injuries.
As far as former Flyers go, the Hurricanes have just one: Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere came over in a trade deadline deal from Arizona and put up 10 points in 23 games. So far in the playoffs, he’s had three assists and logged a little over 16 min in ice time.
On the other side of the coin are the Florida Panthers; a team that last made the finals in 1996,… the year they knocked out Eric Lindros and the Flyers on their way to the Stanley Cup. Maybe you remember the rats?
The Panthers were the last team into the playoffs this year and have caught fire. There is always that one team that gets hot during the playoffs and go on a tear. We saw this last year in Philadelphia when the Phillies went all the way to the World Series. That is the Panthers now.
If you are looking for former Flyers to root for, then this team is loaded with them. Bruising defender Radko Gudas is still knocking people around. The goaltending duo of Alex Lyon and Sergei Bobrovsky have saved Florida’s season, with Lyon getting them into the playoffs and Bobrovsky dominating in net in the postseason. And Nick Cousins scored the series winning goal in overtime to knock out the Maple Leafs.
Overall, the Hurricanes are the better team. However, the Panthers have knocked out both Boston and Toronto. They fear nobody right now. They are dangerous and hungry. Also, Bobrovsky desperately wants to shake off any notion that he sucks in the playoffs. I think Carolina will win this, but this is going to be a battle between two very determined teams. — Hurricanes in 7
Western Conference Finals
Thankfully the Dallas Stars took down the Seattle Kraken. Nothing against Seattle. I like their jerseys and their vibe. However, I’d hate to see a Western Conference Finals with two teams that have been around about as long as your average Kindergartener’s age. You need to pay your dues first and God forbid one of them win a Cup while the Flyers are still waiting. Sorry Dave Hakstol, maybe next year.
Neither the Vegas Golden Knights or Dallas Stars have any former Flyers to speak of. Vegas does have Nolan Patrick, but has hasn’t played in any of the playoff games, having appeared in just 25 games with two goals and five assists this season. He’s been sidelined ever since.
Vegas has been one of the top teams in the West for the last few seasons. They fairly easily dispatched the Edmonton Oilers, who had a lot of firepower.
Likewise, Dallas struggled with Seattle before finally overcoming them in a game seven matchup. Dallas has a lot of talent, but they falter at times.
Vegas should have the upper hand in this matchup. But if Dallas gets hot, the Knights could be in trouble. This should be a fun matchup, but the edge goes to Sin City. — Golden Knights in 6