By Doug Johnson
This is literally every picture ever of the Caps and Flyers.
As if back-to-back matinees weren’t enough, today’s game against the Flyers comes hot on the heels of one of the best games we’ve seen in quite a while. In fact, we just canNOT wait for today’s match-up, so let’s get right to it.
It might feel easy to write off the Flyers this season, but not so fast. They can still surprise, both for being amazing and, alternately amazingly bad, so you just never know which team is going to show up.
For a little insight into this Jekyll/Hyde team, we were lucky enough to chat with Collin Mehalick, editor over at the excellent Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey and all-around smarty-pants about all things Philly, about today’s game, and just what sort of squad we’ll be facing at the Wells Fargo Center.
First, we know on this end what we love about the Caps. When did you become a Flyers fan, and what are some your favorite things about the team?
Two words: Eric Lindros. Pretty much my entire hockey knowledge until the age of 14 revolved around that guy, and I know for most of us here at Broad Street Hockey, he’s the main reason we ended up covering hockey nowadays. You couldn’t take my eyes off of the ice when he was on it, and, quite frankly, I’m not sure the Flyers will find a player like him again.
Some of my favorite things about the team? I think, and I say this as someone who covers the team, Philadelphia hockey is always -exciting-. There’s always something going on that makes it seem like this team is 10 minutes away from implosion or disaster or greatness or ridiculousness or something. They’ve always been in on big name free agents. Their front office and ownership is outspoken. It’s a demanding market to play in. You have the whole narratives concerning the Philadelphia fans. They’ve put a great product on the ice over the past 15 years. There’s still a ton of blatant problems that need fixing.
And that makes it a hell of a lot of fun to live in this city and root for this team. The Philadelphia Flyers are always talked about, always in the headlines, always doing something.
The Metropolitan feels bifurcated– a super tight race up top, and then a pretty big step to the second tier. Is a playoff berth attainable after the Sabres fiasco, and if so how do you catch up?
Truthfully? No. Not at all. I don’t think enough people understand how big of a hole being 7 points out of the race at the end of February is. We mention that a bunch, and we get kicked around quite a bit for it, but we’re really one of the few sites to come out and tell it like it is. It’s not looking good at all, and the team’s inability to commit to being a ‘future product’ (read: sellers) has the chance to backfire.
If (and this is a big if) the Flyers want to climb back into the race, they need to sweep this home back-to-back. Boston’s throwing up all over themselves, and the Flyers face Carolina and Toronto after this afternoon’s matchup against the Capitals. They’ll need to be 4 points or closer by March to make something of it.
Given the talent up top, I always think the Flyers should be a high-scoring team. This season you’ve had a couple pop-out performances, but overall not so much. Am I wrong about this, and if not, what’s happening?
You hit the nail on the head; it’s the support. At the beginning of the season, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Steve Mason were the only two things worth talking about on this team. For the rest of the team? It got pretty bad.
It’s been a complete reversal over the past three weeks. Since the All Star Break, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek have hit a small slump (and Philly media is capitalizing), but it’s the second and third lines (see: Wayne Simmonds) who have picked up the slack. The middle six and the play of Ray Emery has essentially kept this team hanging on to whatever playoff hopes are still left.
As a whole, except for Steve Mason (and you might be able to lump him in because of injuries), the team’s been wildly inconsistent. It’s a huge problem.
Even though the Caps are playing well, the Flyers seem to have had their number this season. Thoughts?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The Capitals and Penguins are two of the few teams the Flyers regularly face who haven’t completely demolished them in one manner or another this season. I guess that’s saying something?
Believe it or not, there’s still a lot of hard feelings down here about the Emery/Holtby tango over a year ago. Are the Flyers a team that “plays dirty”, or is that just boo-hooing from opponents?
This really isn’t a team issue; it’s more of a Zac Rinaldo issue, and he’s been quiet the past couple of times the Flyers and Capitals have squared off. Nothing’s really happened to the Flyers quite like that 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Capitals last season, and the subsequent brawl that followed shortly after.
Haven’t checked the differential lately, but I do know that in the first two months of the season, the Flyers committed the fewest minor infractions and had the fewest minutes penalized, so there’s that. It’s kind of nice when the players on the team you root for aren’t completely boneheaded.
But for Capitals fans? We kind of stopped talking about it. It’s kind of a joke at this point; I don’t know. *insert Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ here* [Ed. note: Unorthodox, but sure! Why not?]
OK, you’re Ron Hextall. What do you do at the trade deadline?
Yard sale. I’m taking phone calls on everybody and anybody. At this point, why not listen? The team’s going to be stuck in mediocrity until their backend clears up (never going to happen), and Hextall gets some more support in the middle six (decent chance of happening).
For the Flyers to have a successful offseason, they’ll need to focus on mitigating cap handcuffs through one (or more) trades to open up space. If Hextall can get rid of one of Lecavalier’s contract, Grossmann’s contract, MacDonald’s contract (lmao), or Umberger’s contract and send feelers out on Coburn’s value or Streit’s value, I’d consider that a pretty dang successful offseason. Less is more for Philadelphia’s new management.
That last sentence sounds weird, but I don’t think people here in Philadelphia fully understand how dire the situation is. I really don’t expect a ton of stuff to happen, because they don’t have many options. The team’s worst players/producers are on the worst contracts.
Prediction time: how is Sunday’s match going to play out?
Tom Wilson is going to kill somebody.
Oh, the game?
Flyers are coming off an emotional win against their former coach. They played quite possibly the best two periods of their season against the best team in the league. I mean, they absolutely dominated them. I don’t think it’s going to get better than that performance. Both teams are going to be on their second game of a back-to-back, so I wouldn’t be surprised if level of play drops off and both teams look a little sloppy.
I’ll give the Flyers more credit than they deserve and say they squeak one out 4-3 to close out a pretty successful weekend for Philadelphia sports — just because they’re playing at home.
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