This game was definitely the Flyers worst performance so far in the bubble, with some uncharacteristic sloppy play noticeable throughout. However, that is often a measure of strong teams, when you can pull out a win even if you did not have your best stuff that day.
Game 1 could very well serve as a preview for what this series could look like as a whole. On the NBC Sports Philadelphia pregame show, Chris Therien stated he thought that the series is going seven games. I thought maybe that was being a little kind to MTL, but I can see where he is coming from after watching last night.
Montreal entered the game as one of the stronger first period teams in the NHL, and the Flyers did a good job of shutting them down.
Right from the drop of the puck, the physical play of Travis Konecny grabbed my attention. He was playing noticeably aggressive and was not afraid to lay some hits on Canadiens players. In the playoffs, that can inspire teammates to play with that same intensity, especially if it is one of your skill players.
We already know how much he loves to chat with the opposition:
With around 11 minutes left in the first period, the Flyers PP struck for the first goal of the series. Ivan Provorov took a one-timer that found its way through a great screen by Jake Voracek. I mentioned in my last piece that traffic in front of Carey Price is key in this series, and it seems the Flyers are thinking the same thing.
The second period saw both teams score a goal, but I know Canadiens fans were losing their minds in this moment. Canadiens winger Arturi Lekhonen trips on a 2-on-0 opportunity that could have very well resulted in a goal for MTL.
It just so happened Price decided to make up for that missed opportunity, with quite possibly the save of the year on Scott Laughton.
The second period was where the Canadiens started to apply some more pressure and have some more offensive zone time, and Carter Hart was up to the challenge as he was all game. He made a great save sliding across his crease to meet a one-time shot by Paul Byron. However, there was not much he could do on the only Montreal goal of the game.
What happened next is another example of why this Flyers team just feels different. Under 30 seconds later, Joel Farabee tipped a shot by Travis Sanheim and then tapped in his own rebound to reclaim the lead for the orange and black. Farabee has impressed ever since returning to the lineup.
The third period was disappointing in the fact that it was more so Montreal putting the Flyers on their heels, rather than Philly finding that nail in the coffin to put the game away. This could have easily been an OT game or a loss in years past, but that is where you can see the difference a Carter Hart makes.
Philadelphia did have an A+ chance to put the game away, but Nate Thompson missed a gaping net. A chance you have to put away, and thankfully did not come back to bite them.
The emphasis on this series so far from media and fans is the goaltending matchup, especially with Price being an idol of young Hart. He matched him strongly in Game 1, playing with confidence and not looking shaky under the playoff spotlight.
Former Flyer goaltender Martin Biron chimed in with his thoughts:
Something to keep an eye on for Game 2, Shayne Gostisbehere did not have the strongest game last night and I wonder if he stays in the lineup. I think it would benefit Ghost more to play, try to give the guy some consistency with not only playing one or two games then riding the bench. He could still be a key factor on the Flyers PP once it gets itself together.
Game 2 is tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 PM, so hopefully the ice will not be as beat up as it was last night.
Happy 22nd Birthday to Carter Hart, Lets go Flyers!
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