The Flyers walked through a global pandemic and came out the other side as Stanley Cup contenders.
Did we see this coming? Didn’t this feel like the same old cruel joke that’s been played on the Flyers and their rabid fanbase for the last four-plus decades? Instead of a hot season being derailed by poor goaltending (as always) or a devastating injury, 2020 threw a fistful of sand into the eyes of the Flyers’ Stanley Cup dreams and ground the entire world to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most promising Flyers season since 2010 threatened by a virus the likes of which humanity has never seen. A poetic ending for the Flyers and their fans.
All the excuses were there. Would anyone really have been surprised if they showed up in the restart a different team? Hell, all the momentum they had built up leading to the stoppage was long gone. Rust was all but assured, wasn’t it?
But strangely enough none of that happened. The 2020 Flyers have seemingly crossed over, dare I say, into the land of milk and honey that only the 2017 Eagles and 2008 Phillies have entered into this century. I’m not saying this Flyers team wins a championship like those exalted teams of Philadelphia lore, but the 2020 Flyers are officially in “you expect them to win every night” territory and it’s an exciting feeling.
They have an aura about them. They feel special. A solid young core mixed with very key veterans has left the window WIDE OPEN for this franchise for the next several seasons, which is almost as exciting as their sky-high potential for the rest of the 2020 playoffs.
The days of Carter Hart and Travis Konecny are here. Gone are the days of Rob Zepp and Cal Heeter. In the words of Roy Batty, all those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.
I’m a lapsed fan. I wrote about it on this site earlier in the year confessing my sins as a bandwagon fan eagerly hopping back onto the gravy (cheese whiz?) train. I’ll leave it up to Russ and Ant, hosts of Snow the Goalie, the only Flyers podcast in Philadelphia, to better tell you WHY they’re winning. They can explain how each player’s Corsi relates to their success without their brains stroking out and reading the word as “corgi” like I do. What do corgis have to do with advanced analytics in hockey? Why do I smell burnt toast? Life is full of mysteries.
Me? I can just tell you this team feels different. It has a different feeling than the magical underdog run in 2010 that ultimately ran out of gas and goalie talent. Hell, with a win on Saturday against the Lightning they can be the top-seed in the Eastern Conference for the NHL’s 24-team playoff system. Forget underdogs this year, they could be the top dogs, an entirely different look for the Flyers.
Sure they’ve made the playoffs a few times since 2010, but what team do you see in the east is a surefire brick wall for the Flyers like the Penguins and Capitals of the past? The Lightning most likely, but hopefully they won’t have to be dealt with until deep into a playoff run.
Enjoy the ride and just thank your lucky stars we don’t have to rely on Ilya Bryzgalov/Petr Mrázek/Anthony Stolarz/Alex Lyon for postseason success any longer.