The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Montreal Canadians in Game 4 of the first round of the NHL playoffs 2-0. The win gave the Flyers full control of the series, as they move one game within advancing to the next round. Since the embarrassing performance in Game 2, the Flyers have won both games, and Carter Hart has since put up two shutouts. The 22-year-old goalie for the Flyers has been exceptional in the last two games for the Flyers. Hart has helped carry the team to two wins with only three goals to help support him.
In Game 4, the Flyers played a much stronger, more complete game, then they have had all series. Yet, they still struggled at times clearing the puck out of their zone, but Carter Hart was able to hold the Flyers through. In addition to Hart being spectacular, the Flyers defense also has stood up to the occasion and held their own against the Canadians. So far in the series, the Flyers haven’t shown the same polish they showed through the first three round-robin games. To some fans, this may seem like a concern, but let’s remember, it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win. Of course, I would love for the Flyers to win every game 3-0, but that’s not going to be the case. What’s going to be the case is what’s happening, a series where teams slug it out to see who will work harder to win. If anything comes from the close games in the series so far, it should be used as a testament to the Flyers’ ability to win close games. Winning is a habit, and so far the Flyers have kept that habit no matter how they do it.
I’m not the biggest fan of comparing two sports experiences, especially in the playoffs, but let’s look at the 2017 Eagles. Once Carson Wentz went down, it wasn’t pretty, but the team clinched the number one seed. After that, they faced the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, and it took till the last play to win. It’s that “Fight until the end” ability, that carries team when there are 5 minutes left in a game. Every championship team has this trait. Look at the 2008 Phillies, they repeatedly showed that they were able to give their all in the closing moments. It wasn’t clearer than in the World Series. After the Phillies fell in game 2 4-2, they responded by winning game 3 by a one-run margin of 5-4. Proving to themselves that they can win close games, gives teams confidence when they are in moments like that in the future. The Eagles demonstrated that in the Falcons game, and had the confidence to make key plays in the final moments of the Superbowl. For the Flyers, they were able to win two very close games after being blown out, the trait was demonstrated.
Winning Game 4 for the Flyers was huge. It doesn’t have to be stated how 3-1, and 2-2 are two completely different ball games. Since the Flyers did win, they can have an opportunity to clinch the series tomorrow at 8 pm est. As of now, the next team the Flyers will face in the playoffs isn’t determined. Right now it seems like the Flyers will be facing the New York Islanders, as they have a 3-0 lead on the Washington Capitals, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are down 3-1 to the Lightning. I’m not going to start to look that much ahead, but no matter who the Flyers end up facing it will be challenging of a fight than the Canadians.
It’s not just because the next challenger will be a higher seed, but also because whatever team the Flyers play will be red-hot. Although, this is exactly why this first-round matchup for the Flyers was perfect. The Canadians, as we have seen, are a hard-working, gritty team. After the wake-up call in Game 2, the Flyers were able to demonstrate they fight back. This is the exact needed to win in the playoffs. The Flyers have responded, and they have responded strongly. They have placed themselves where they needed to be, in a position to advance, and they have shown that they can respond to adversity, which will be key if they expect to make a deep run in the playoffs.