Through three postseason games, the best way to describe the play of the Philadelphia Flyers is “night and day.”
As we all know, Game One was an absolute nightmare for Philly, suffering a 7-0 loss at the hands of their hated rivals. They looked nowhere near a team hungry to progress through the playoffs, and Sidney Crosby and the Penguins made them pay for it. Honestly, every aspect of the Flyers performance, both on the ice and on the bench, that Wednesday night was flawed.
Fast forward to Friday night for Game Two. An entirely different Philadelphia hockey team took the ice, looking to seek revenge and prove that they indeed had a chance to dethrone the two-time champion Penguins in Round One of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only did they outscore Pittsburgh, holding them goalless until it was arguably too late to post a comeback, but they also outworked the Penguins and forced them out of their gameplan. Even goaltending, which was horrendous in the first game, had spectators in awe. At the end of Friday night’s game, the mood surrounding the Flyers and their postseason outlook to a complete turn for the best.
However, that optimism was shortlived. Although the Flyers were without a doubt the better team in the first period of Game Three, their dominance was shortlived. It was clear that trailing to the Penguins even though they were playing so well got to them and Philadelphia began to drop back to the team that skated on Wednesday. They became careless, undisciplined, and just allowed Pittsburgh to ultimately take the game over.
It is safe to say that the Flyers have struggled with consistency to this point in the postseason. It appears that the team can either produce a dominant style of play or plain stink up the ice. Yes, this can be frustrating, but it should be expected. It is the same thing that we bore witness to in the regular season. This is the franchise that punished us all with a ten-game losing streak and then followed it up with numerous point streaks. It was the same team that was on top of the world in February and then struggled mightily in March. The Flyers 2017-18 campaign has been “a tale of two teams” in its entirety, and it continues to show in the playoffs.
Now whether the Flyers would be able to defeat the Penguins in a seven-game series even with a more consistent style of play is up for debate. However, if the team could bring the same level of skill, energy, intelligence, and discipline each game, Philadelphia’s chances would naturally increase.
One of the beauties of being a streaky team is that the Flyers are close to unstoppable when they are hot and moving on all cylinders. This series is far from out of reach. If the orange and black can catch fire, they could pull off an upset. Still, the Flyers must show that they are a good team for longer than 60 minutes at a time. Consistency will be essential for the rest of this series.