Flyers

NHL playoffs Flyers vs. Hurricanes: Previewing possible 1st-round matchup

NHL playoffs Flyers vs. Hurricanes: Previewing possible 1st-round matchup

Leading up to the Flyers' Aug. 2 round-robin opener — which officially commences the team's run at the 2020 Stanley Cup in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament — we're going to break down every possible first-round matchup for the club.

Today, we look at the sixth-seeded Hurricanes.

Flyers by the numbers

Goals per game: 3.29 (seventh overall)
Goals allowed per game: 2.77 (tied for seventh fewest)
Power play percentage: 20.8 (14th overall)
Penalty kill percentage: 81.8 (11th overall)

Hurricanes by the numbers

Goals per game: 3.19 (11th overall)
Goals allowed per game: 2.84 (21st overall)
Power play percentage: 22.3 (eighth overall)
Penalty kill percentage: 84.0 (fourth overall) 

How they could meet

There are a few different ways in which the Flyers can face off against the Hurricanes in the first round. 

• If the Flyers do not advance at all in the round robin and remain the fourth seed, they’d be slated to face the highest seed that advances (for this to happen, the Penguins would have to lose to the Canadiens). 

• The Flyers could also face the Hurricanes if they finish as the third seed, but in order for that to happen, all of the top seeds would have to advance (Leafs, Islanders and Penguins). 

Why matchup could be favorable for Flyers

The 2018-19 season saw a lot of defeat for the Flyers — especially within the Metropolitan Division — and the team was swept by the Hurricanes, going 0-4-0. A lot has changed since. In just one season, the Flyers transformed themselves when going up against this division team. Out of the four times these two teams saw each other in the 2019-20 season, the Flyers dominated play and went 3-0-1.

Let the captain do his thing 

Claude Giroux had an extremely successful season against the Hurricanes, registering at least one point per game. In total, the captain tallied eight points (three goals, five assists). On paper, it would seem like Giroux had a less than ideal season, but to those who have been watching can see the impact he has in every game he plays. 

Many like to doubt Giroux’s abilities and like to note how he tends to disappear in the playoffs, and frankly, that’s a tiring narrative. Hockey is a team sport and a game or series cannot fall on a single player, and yet somehow Giroux is always to blame. This season proves that things are different. No longer does the captain have to carry the team on his shoulders as plenty of teammates are collectively contributing to the Flyers' success. If anything, this run has the potential to reignite the flame Giroux has had in past playoffs.  

Writing a new piece in history

If these two teams were to meet in the playoffs, it would be the first time in history that they do — so the Flyers should do what they can to start on the right foot. In the past decade, the Hurricanes have made the playoffs only once — and that was last season, when they lost in the Conference Final to the Bruins. 

So right off the bat, the Flyers have the edge when it comes to playoff experience and they’ll need to capitalize on that. Sure, no one has experience playing through a global pandemic with no fans in the crowd, but that isn’t going to diminish what is at stake — advancing to the next round with a stronger chance at winning the Stanley Cup. 

Why matchup could be trouble for Flyers

While the Flyers have good numbers when it comes to special teams from the 2019-20 season, the Hurricanes’ numbers are even greater. To have both the power play and penalty kill in the top 10 in the league is no small  feat, especially when going into the playoffs — and that’s the position the Hurricanes are currently in. 

The Flyers found a way past the fourth-best penalty kill only twice out of the 10 times they had the opportunity to. On the opposite side of things, the Hurricanes scored only one power play goal through nine attempts, so the Flyers were able to subside the heat in that aspect of their game. 

It’s important to keep in mind though, that in the NHL playoffs — anything can happen. While the Flyers were able to mediate their special teams for the majority of the season, who knows what forces they’d be up against once any single penalty can determine the fate of the season. 

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NHL playoffs: Flyers vs. Canadiens hype video or epic movie trailer? You decide

NHL playoffs: Flyers vs. Canadiens hype video or epic movie trailer? You decide

It always feels like time doesn’t move on game days, right? Especially when it’s an 8 p.m. start time … we still have hours to go before puck drop. 

That at least gives us some time to mentally prepare, get stressed over nothing, or just sit around waiting for the grass to grow. All are valid if it just helps speed up this dreadful waiting process. 

Wednesday night the Flyers officially enter the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as the top seed in the east and are set to face the Canadiens. 

There’s no better feeling than checking your social media accounts to see the crazy energy levels the moment you wake up for the day — you just know that is going to carry over through puck drop and beyond. 

Well, things already escalated tremendously after the Flyers released another hype video. We don’t know how they keep outdoing themselves with these, but it perfectly captured the emotions many are feeling heading into this first round. 

This video pulls moments from bench boss Alain Vigneault’s big debut with the Flyers from the “Behind the Glass” series that was featured on NHL Network in the weeks leading up to the start of the 2019-20 season. 

We really should’ve known right then and there that this was about to be a completely different team. It all starts with the coach’s mentality — and Vigneault was nothing short of inspiring. 

Who knew, that almost an entire year after this series aired, that they would still have the chance to end the season on top. The Flyers have faced circumstances like none other this past season and are still not viewed as a serious contender by most. 

But we Philadelphians know the possibilities of where this season could go — and so did Vigneault — from the very beginning. That’s pretty darn special. 

Get ready Flyers fans, it’s time. 

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There's no better way to get ready for Flyers vs. Canadiens than 'The Shift'

There's no better way to get ready for Flyers vs. Canadiens than 'The Shift'

AAAARREEEE YOU READY FOR SOME FLYERS PLAYOFF HOCKEY?!

After sweeping the round robin and rightfully earning their place at the top of the east, the Flyers are getting ready to face the Canadiens in a best-of-seven series. 

There’s a feeling of excitement heading into this series, one that hasn’t been present for quite a few seasons, making the anticipation build even more. 

On Tuesday, Jakub Voracek even noted that he could sense this year — and this team — are different than past years. 

“I think this is the best team I’ve been on since I came to Philly,” Voracek said. 

Considering Voracek was also a part of the 2011-12 squad that posted 103 points and had teammates like Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmons, Danny Briere and Kimmo Tomonen (and a young James van Riemsdyk and Sean Couturier!) — that’s some pretty high praise. 

So, with an exciting team and a pretty thrilling matchup on the horizon, I figured we needed to look back to the last time the Flyers and Canadiens met in the playoffs. You know, see if anything was highlight-worthy to get everyone excited. 

Oh yeah — how about one of the best playoff shifts in Flyers franchise history. 

If you search Mike Richards in the YouTube search bar, the first option that pops up has “the shift” at the end. Rightfully so. 

Let’s go back to May 24, 2010. It was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, just four minutes into the first period and the Flyers already found themselves on the penalty kill. Luckily for them, they had Richards — who was an absolute unit on special teams. 

About  45 seconds had passed on the Canadiens’ power play, when Marc Andre-Bergeron received the puck at the top of the point. Before he could even gather his thoughts, he was met by Richards who steamrolled over him. 

This hit gave the Flyers a 3-on-1 fast break — and while Jaroslav Halak denied Richards, he also deflected the puck in perfect fashion, giving the Canadiens a shot to break into the offensive zone and make a push on their own. 

It didn’t take long for the Flyers’ captain at the time to start dismantling his opponents once more. As Bergeron readied to cross the Flyers’ blue line, Richards was right there and prepared to cause more chaos. A stick lift distracted Bergeron just enough to give Brayden Coburn a key opportunity to lay another hit on the Canadiens forward. 

(Less than ideal shift for Bergeron — but that’s more on what Richards did right, rather than what he did wrong.)

With a battle in the corner to gain possession of the puck, you notice Richards sneak away and find space in the neutral zone. Finally, Giroux gets control of the puck and lobs it to center ice. Richards and Roman Hamrlik raced for the puck and were surprisingly met by Halak, who was too far from the net for comfort — if you were a Canadien, that is. 

Richards dove in an attempt to knock the puck out of the path of the charging goaltender — and in what should have been a collision of the three players, No. 18 snuck out without a scratch. 

Suddenly, he had a clear path to a wide open net and was able to tie the game. The Flyers went on to win the game, the series and advanced to the Stanley Cup final. 

You know what, reading about it is fun, but watching it is just much more thrilling:

… And this all happened in the span of 30 seconds. 

Playoff hockey, there’s absolutely nothing like it. 

The Flyers open their series against the Canadiens Wednesday at 8 p.m. on NBCSP.

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers