Braden Holtby

Flyers social media team is having a blast, trolls the Capitals, Barstool

Flyers social media team is having a blast, trolls the Capitals, Barstool

The Flyers are surging, hockey is fun, the bandwagoners have arrived and Philadelphia is buzzing for some late spring NHL action in the city.

After taking down Washington for the second time this season on the road, they not only improved to a season-best 7-game winning streak but also pulled behind the Metro’s top dogs now trailing by a single point. The tables can turn as quickly as tonight if the Flyers get the job done against the Hurricanes and the Rangers can pull off a win over the Capitals.

It was no easy feat by any means last night, but with the game being on a national stage — everyone was talking about this showdown.

While the action was heating up on the ice, things were heating up off the ice on the team’s social media accounts.

Let’s just say whoever runs it for the Flyers was NOT having it.

Surely, you remember the fight involving Tom Wilson last night. Wait, let me be a little more specific since there were about 30 of them … the one where good guy Robert Hagg went and defended the captain.

The Capitals decided to retaliate, noting that they didn’t show the whole fight and cut out the gif before the ending.

Here’s where things start to get fun. Of course the Flyers weren’t going to back down, especially now that things were rolling. I’d like to take some form of credit for that by the way, considering I put this into the universe. You’re welcome, Philly.

So, since the team had taken a 3-1 lead, it was used to their advantage with this epic comeback.

The shade didn’t stop there, though. The social account for Barstool’s Spittin’ Chiclets podcast thought it would be smart to hype up goaltender Braden Holtby after he stopped this puck from going in.

First, it’s funny considering that it’s clearly a goal, but since there wasn’t enough visual evidence, the call couldn’t be reversed.

Second, the Flyers scored just moments after this. If you take a goal away from Travis Konecny, odds are he’s going to want to get that back. Spoiler alert: he did.

And to top things off, they made sure to keep things rolling in the morning when the NHL released their most recent power rankings … rankings where the Capitals are still somehow above the Flyers even with their win streak and a series record this season of 3-0-1.

They then proceeded to put them on full blast, pulling up receipts from just a few days ago after winning both games in the home-and-home against the Rangers.

Who knows the next Twitter account that will try to go up against the Flyers? At this rate, they’re just as intimidating as the team itself.

Oh, how the tides have turned in such a short amount of time.

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Capitals 3, Flyers 1: Swept by defending champs as 2018-19 run nearing end

Capitals 3, Flyers 1: Swept by defending champs as 2018-19 run nearing end

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — The Capitals completed a four-game season sweep of the Flyers for the first time since the 2006-07 season following a 3-1 win Sunday at Capital One Arena.

Back-to-back losses to the Islanders and Capitals will almost ensure the Flyers won’t qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The highest point total the Flyers can finish with is 92, if they can run the table over their final six games.

Here are my observations from Capital One Arena:

• The Flyers entered this game having surrendered an average of 42 shots per game over their last five games — the most they’ve allowed in any five-game stretch this season. Against the Capitals, though, they were clearly the better team, controlling play as they dominated in shot attempts by an overwhelming 44-10 margin in the second period alone, but couldn’t generate the game-tying goal. You have to wonder where that energy level was Saturday against the Islanders.

• The Flyers need a Tom Wilson-type player for next season. Wayne Simmonds was that kind of player in his prime, but no longer. The closest they had was Scott Hartnell, who played a similar style.

Wilson was a first-round pick because of his skill level combined with the edge he brings to the ice. The Caps simply don’t win the Stanley Cup without his feisty and chippy play, which was a difference maker in the Cup Final. With his 1-0 goal in this game, Wilson now has a career-high 22 goals this season, four of those against the Flyers.

• Sean Couturier will be my vote for the Bobby Clarke award as the Flyers' MVP this season with his all-around, two-way play, and a second straight 30-goal season.

However, I don’t think Couturier has had a Selke-worthy season like he showed in 2017-18 when he finished second to Anze Kopitar. Couturier was nearly flawless last season in his defensive positioning and his puck management in his end of the ice, but not quite as good this season. He had one of those miscues that led to the Caps' second goal of the game.

• The defensive pairing of Robert Hagg and Radko Gudas had apparently run its course. After the Hagg-Gudas pair looked awful in the game against the Islanders, it wasn't much better in the opening 10 minutes of this game.

The Flyers played much better defensively once interim head coach Scott Gordon paired Hagg with Philippe Myers and Gudas with Shayne Gostisbehere. However, the Flyers were exploited with the fourth line on the ice and Hagg pinching deep with no recognition from the forwards, which led to Jakub Vrana’s breakaway goal.

• Jakub Voracek scored a power-play goal, giving him 20 goals for the season and the sixth time in his last seven seasons in Philadelphia. While Voracek will never be considered a pure goal scorer, this puts him near exclusive company. Only 20 current players have six 20-goal seasons over the last seven seasons.

• Did you catch the delay before the opening faceoff? Phil Varone’s name was on the lineup card submitted to the official scorer, but Varone was a healthy scratch in favor of Justin Bailey. Had the change not been made prior to the faceoff, Bailey would have been ruled ineligible, according to rule 5.2 in the NHL rulebook, and the Flyers would have been forced to play with 11 forwards (which they’ve done a handful of times over the past month).

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Ready for Carter Hart as the most dangerous team to Flyers' faint playoff hopes isn't going anywhere

Ready for Carter Hart as the most dangerous team to Flyers' faint playoff hopes isn't going anywhere

Down in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center, Carter Hart chatted with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby outside of the locker rooms.

Hart, nursing a sore ankle, was wearing dress pants and a peacoat, having watched Holtby's defending champs dismantle his Flyers in a 5-3 decision Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old hasn't had a crack at these Capitals yet or the chance to square off against Holtby, who shares the same sports psychologist as Hart in John Stevenson.

He may get his shot soon because unfortunately for the Flyers, they have to see Washington twice more over the final 15 games of a playoff push running short on time. 

The Flyers entered Thursday seven points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Hockey-Reference.com gives the Flyers a 3.8 percent chance to make the postseason, while SportsClubStats.com has them at 2.0 percent.

Not pretty, but the Flyers gave themselves microscopic room for error by going 16-23-6 through 45 games, pinning the club in the basement of the 31-team NHL standings.

To squeak into the playoffs, the Flyers (72 points) need to catch two of these four teams — the Hurricanes (79 points), Penguins (79 points), Canadiens (79 points) and Blue Jackets (77 points) (see standings).

But really, the Flyers' biggest concern the rest of the way might just be the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals.

"We've talked about it in our locker room, we're in charge of our destiny and we just have to think about our games and not scoreboard watch or anything like that," Brian Elliott said Wednesday night. "This time of year, every point helps and we didn't get any tonight."

Flyers fans got their first look this season at the team that could completely quash any remaining hope of playoff hockey coming to Philadelphia next month.

Washington blitzed the Flyers with five goals in the game's opening 26 minutes. Elliott was pulled after the fourth marker and Cam Talbot let one in 1:19 later as the Capitals ambushed the Flyers in intimidating fashion. Through two meetings with the Flyers, Washington has scored 10 goals — both 5-3 victories that were not as close as the score may indicate.

"We watched them play," Scott Laughton said Wednesday night. "We got a front-row seat to it and they walked all over us."

In their first game against the Capitals back on Jan. 8, the Flyers were forced to start goalie Mike McKenna, which turned out to be his only action with the club.

In Wednesday's game, the Flyers were forced to play seven defensemen and only 11 forwards with top-six guys Jakub Voracek (lower-body injury) and Nolan Patrick (upper-body injury) out of service.

Those are not ideal circumstances against a team like Washington, which carves up coverage and goalies by moving the puck as well as anyone in the league.

"Yeah, there's no question," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said about the impact of missing Voracek and Patrick. "They make us a better team and it's no different than [Evgeny] Kuznetsov and [Alex] Ovechkin being out of [the Capitals'] lineup. There's no grey area about it. They're two of our top six players."

The Flyers should feel better about themselves when Voracek and Patrick are back.

The same can be said about Hart's impending return. He has missed the last six games but has practiced the past two days and is expected back next week, possibly Monday.

Hart dug the Flyers out of the NHL cellar by going 10-1-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .929 save percentage from Jan. 14 to Feb. 17.

Maybe he can save them again with Washington visiting the Wells Fargo Center next Thursday and welcoming the Flyers March 24.

There should be little debate about the Flyers going back to Hart, the kid who gave this season life. At this point, the Flyers have nothing to lose.

Give Hart his shot to see his friend Holtby on the ice, not just in the hallway.

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