The Philadelphia Flyers are set to face the Montreal Canadians tonight at 8 pm est, Game 3 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. After a dismal 5-0 lost in Game 2, the Flyers are looking to rebound and take back the lead in the series. It doesn’t have to be stated that this is a crucial game for the Flyers (most playoffs games tend to be). Although, this game has some added pressure considering that the Flyers are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. The expectations for the Flyers have drastically changed since entering the round-robin. Since then the Flyers have earned the first seed in the Eastern Conference, and improved to one of the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. So, for the Flyers to fall behind the Canadians in the first round is going to be added trouble in an already difficult road to the championship.
Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart, will face the majority of the attention for tonight’s game after being pulled from Game 2. Of course, Hart wasn’t at fault for a terrible Flyers performance but will be expected to carry the team if they do start to fall behind again. Also facing pressure is Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux, who has yet to score in any of the Flyers games since the NHL has started back up. As a matter of fact, the entire first line for the Flyers is scoreless. You can see how quickly a storyline can change from “The Flyers’ Amazing Depth” to “The Flyers’ Lack of Superstars”. Like the majority of playoff runs and eventual championships, teams need players to step-up. Of course, the Flyers have had great performances, such as Carter Hart in Game 1, but the team will need one of its leaders to carry them further than round one.
Of course, the Flyers shouldn’t be sirening all the alarms because they lost one game out of the five since the return to play. Although, they should be worried about falling back to a Canadians team that has already beaten the odds against the Penguins and one of the league’s top goalies with Carey Price. Flyers’ coach Alain Vigneault, who is one of this year’s contenders for coach of the year, is going to prove he is worthy of such an award with tonight’s game. After being embarrassed by the Canadians, it’s going to be in the hands of Vigneault to make the correct decisions either with line changes or with mental preparedness for the Flyers. This game will be the tone-setter for the rest of this series and the Flyers championship aspiration. Will the Flyers roll over and die, or are they going to fight back and bounce back to reclaim control? For the Flyers Game, 2 could be a (very painful) blessing in disguise. There aren’t many times in the playoffs when a team can be beaten 5-0 and still have the opportunity to look at it as a “teaching moment”.
In conclusion, let’s hope that the Flyers win because if they don’t, then we are stuck with the 76ers and Phillies. Trust me, I’m not prepared to go into another Brett Brown post-season, or forced to witness continuous bullpen explosions without some good news.