The Flyers started off their round robin play in convincing fashion Sunday afternoon, as they took down the President Trophy winners in the Boston Bruins in a 4-1 affair.
The Flyers started this mini tournament off as the fourth seed, so they have already significantly increased their odds of possibly gaining the first or second seed in the East.
Boston was one of only teams hotter than the Flyers over that stretch from mid-November to the stoppage of the season. They finished play with a second place powerplay and a third ranked penalty kill and are a bonafide contender.
The first period was competitive, but both teams finished scoreless. Claude Giroux had a wicked one-time shot from the top of the slot, but it went off the post.
The Flyers then exploded in the second period and pretty much dominated the 100+ point Bruins. Michael Raffl received a slick pass from Travis Sanheim in front and backhanded top shelf for a 1-0 lead.
Veteran acquisition Nate Thompson then had an absolute snipe which even he looked surprised about to make it 2-0.
Boston then cut it to 2-1 with a little over a minute to go in the period, and you would think that could have halted the momentum somewhat. It did not.
Right off the ensuing faceoff, the Flyers found themselves with a 2 on 1 and defenseman Phil Myers decided he would snipe top corner as well. The two-goal lead was recovered to finish out the second period.
Scott Laughton extended the lead to three goals in the third period with a hard wrist shot, in a strong closeout period by the orange and black. The team seems to have picked up their pre-shutdown play and continued it so far in their first two games back. I am not sure when the last time the Flyers have had such a good defense core while at the same time almost all defensemen being able to contribute offensively. In younger players like Sanheim in Myers, they have good instincts and Myers is never afraid to have a shot or jump into the play.
The Flyers depth shined in this one, but a notable lineup choice was Shayne Gostisbehere being scratched. It seemed to be a hard call for the Flyers staff, but I would be shocked if we did not see him in the next two games or the playoffs themselves.
Goal-scorer Raffl left the game after an awkward play near the Flyers bench where he went into the boards. Head Coach Alain Vigneault said he would not be available for some time. Youngster Joel Farabee will see himself re-inserted into the lineup.
The Flyers face off against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals tomorrow afternoon. Washington was dealt a shootout loss in their game last night against Tampa Bay, so they will be looking to bounce back. The Metropolitan Division leaders will be looking to secure a strong seed against their rivals up I-95. It will be another good test against another high-powered offense.
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