Big Boy Pants Buckled! What We Learned After Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (OT)

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It still remains a long shot, but “putting on the big boy pants” has an outside chance of joining Nick Foles asking Doug Pederson if they should run the Philly Special, Jimmy Rollins calling the Phillies the “team to beat” and Moses Malone predicting “Fo-Fo-Fo” on the Mount Rushmore of positive quotes in Philadelphia sports history.

Win two more games though, and the odds vastly improve.

While the older members of our fan base may never be willing to replace “win together today and walk together forever,” (and honestly, that’s an iconic quote) if the Flyers do more of what they did in Game 5, both Thursday in Game 6 and Saturday in Game 7, then big boy pants definitely will enter the conversation.

Because how else can you describe coach Alain Vigneault saying veterans Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk need to put on the big boy pants and help lead the team to victory and later that night, they do just that?

It was pretty epic, both via challenge and response as the Flyers won a memorable overtime game 4-3, trimming the New York Islanders’ lead in the series to 3-2 and setting up a Game 6 on Thursday where the Flyers will need to don the pants again and repeat what they did in Game 5 for a second time just to set up a do-or-die final game of this series.

So, without further ado, here’s what we learned in Game 5:

1. This is the best place to be for your hockey coverage

Ok, some of us really knew this already. Crossing Broad has the best Flyers coverage. Combining the written stories with the nationally-ranked Snow The Goalie podcast and the innovative Press Row Show and really, Russ Joy and I have this team covered inside out and backwards.

That said, in case you didn’t know already, maybe Game 4 was the lynchpin.

First, on the pre-game Press Row show, Russ and I called a couple of goals (Start at 17:50 if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing):

Russ picks Giroux (sorta) I pick JVR (definitively). And then, even though neither team scored in the opening period (a period dominated by the Flyers, by the way), and even though the Islanders scored first with a power play goal in the opening minutes of the second period, our prescience came to light about midway through the game.

First Giroux:

It’s all we’ve been saying. Get pucks to the net with traffic in front and eventually good things will happen.

The Flyers now have 11 goals in the last four games, and although that’s not setting the world on fire just yet, its better than where they were the previous seven games, when they also had 11 goals.

JVR then made me look like a soothsayer:

The most impressive thing here, is the Flyers strung together two strong periods in a row – something a lot of people didn’t think was possible against the Islanders.

But in reality, when you look at the progression over the last three games, the Flyers have seemed to start to figure some things out about how to attack the Islanders. They’re getting a lot more pressure and a lot more zone time with the puck.

It’s almost as if they have memorized the answers to all the questions on the quiz and it’s just a matter of determining if the teacher changed the order of the questions and if so, figuring out which answer goes where.

That’s how the Flyers have played the last two games – you can see they know what they’re supposed to do, it’s just a matter of execution. And the Flyers executed just enough in Game 5.

The goal that brought you Game 6 though, came from an unlikely source on the top line. First, our prediction though on the Press Row Show – Overtime edition. Go to 13:30 for the good prediction unless you want to watch Russ melting down after the Flyers coughed up a 3-1 lead in the third period:

That’s right, Scott Laughton, who a couple games ago was a healthy scratch, put in the stands by Vigneault after a series of subpar games.

And then, after a strong Game 4 on the third line with JVR and Tyler Pitlick and another solid effort during regulation of Game 5 with JVR and Travis Konecny, Laughton was called into top line duty to replace Sean Couturier, who appeared to hurt his knee in a collision with Matthew Barzal in the second period and never returned.

All Laughton did on that top line, was this:

Again. Shots through from the point. Traffic in front. Good things happen.

To steal a line from our fearless leader here at Crossing Broad, “I don’t know why you’d read any other site.”

2. Carter Hart is up for the challenge

Lost in the euphoria of the overtime win was Carter Hart saving the Flyers’ season.

Yes, admittedly, the second Islanders goal, a slap shot from distance by Brock Nelson that was unscreened, was one Hart probably shouldn’t let get past him.

Secondly, most 22-year-old goalies would wilt after blowing a two-goal lead in the final 4:14 of a game where their team faces elimination.

But if you were ever worried about the mettle of Hart, just look at what he did in the overtime period alone.

First this:

Then this:

 

Oh, and he also did this:

Yeah, that last one should have been a delay of game penalty. The Flyers got away with one there. The referee went over to Hart afterwards and issued a warning. I’ve never seen that before. That’s bad. The refs have not been good in this series – either way. They call ticky-tack nonsense but the blatant stuff they let go. Its pretty par for the course for the NHL though.

3. Sean Couturier’s knee

This is the biggest concern for the Flyers. Because no motivational tool, no devil magic, no pulling on of big boy pants can make up for the loss of the No. 1 center, even if the No. 1 center hasn’t quite been himself this series.

This collision with Matthew Barzal didn’t look good:

There’s been no update from the team, nor do I expect we’ll get one. It’ll be part of the gamesmanship to try and prevent the Islanders from knowing what’s going on with Coots.

But if he has to miss time, the lineup is not equipped to handle it.

Michael Raffl has been skating with the team, but believe me, if he were healthy he’d be in the lineup. He’s their first choice to come back in.

After that, it’s probably Connor Bunnaman to the fourth line and everybody moves up one (Derek Grant to 3C, Laughton to 1C).

So, the options are limited. The Flyers need Coots.

He’s done it before. After tearing his MCL in a practice collision with Radko Gudas in 2018, Coots was in the playoffs anyway and scored four goals in his next two games – so he’s a warrior and he’ll play if he can.

But if he can’t. Yikes.

4. Barzal in doubt, too

Here’s the thing; Barzal didn’t come back on the ice either after taking a stick to the face from a Claude Giroux follow-through. There wasn’t a lot of blood and a report out of New York said he had a cut on his eyelid.

That’s a tough spot to have a cut that needs to be sewn up and still be able to play. The Islanders will be sure to try and get that swelling down over the next 36 hours in hopes he can get back out there. If not, he’s a big loss for them too.

But he might not be the only loss.

5. If Matt Niskanen was suspended then Adam Pelech has to be too, right?

Russ made this, a la the Montreal Canadiens, for the NHL Department of Player Safety to best review the hit:

In all seriousness, Pelech’s shoulder goes straight to Joel Farabee’s head. This is a head shot and should be suspension-worthy.

However, as the NHL often does, it dictates it’s suspensions based off injury to the player (hell, a wild high stick to the head can be a two-minute penalty, but an accidental high stick that barely grazes a player can be four minutes if there’s a sign of blood).

In the case of Niskanen with Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, there was a broken jaw and Gallagher had to leave the Bubble for surgery. Thus the suspension.

In this case, Farabee didn’t miss a shift.

Pelech should get a game, regardless. I’m predicting just a fine. I hope, unlike my other predictions, I’m wrong about this one.

For more Flyers coverage, check out Snow The Goalie. Follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook and Twitter. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy preview every Flyers home game pregame and recap the first and second period action during intermission breaks  from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts (@AntSanPhilly @JoyOnBroad). 

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