The Philadelphia Flyers
The Carolina Hurricanes have never done this before
The next possible matchup is a team that the Canes have never faced in the playoffs. The Flyers host the sixth-best record in the league, just behind the Washington Capitals. They are also home to the terrifying gaze of Gritty, but we’ll talk about that another day. The Canes have a 1-3 record in their regular-season series against the Flyers.
The season series against the Flyers shows the importance of desperation, both in protecting a lead and coming back from a deficit. To be competitive in the playoffs, the Canes must play as though no lead is safe and no comeback is too great.
Unfortunately, the Canes found themselves in a difficult position when their opponent was able to light the lamp first. The statistic is nothing short of startling: the Canes 26-3-2 when scoring first, and only 12-22-3 when their opponent buried the puck first.
This is a trend that must be reversed, especially against a team like the Flyers who have given no quarter to their opponents this season. There are several scenarios that played out in contests against the Flyers that show this trend.
For example, the Canes had a 2-0 lead against the Flyers in the 1st period during the November 21st contest. Loose coverage on Flyers’ Captain Claude Giroux allowed the Flyers to get their foot in the door to mount a comeback. Every hockey fan knows that no lead is safe, but that aforementioned sense of separation must extend to protecting a lead.
The goal above not only shows the lethality of the Flyers’ top line, but also the importance of protecting the lead by taking every single play seriously. It seems as though the Canes were ready to spring into the last eight seconds of the power play, and not focused on regaining the puck if they didn’t win the draw. Sure, the shot was nice, but this reads as an easy to fix blunder.
One of the other losses, the March 5th game, was a four to one loss. This was a tough third game for Alex Nedeljkovic, who was called up from the Checkers to fill the void left by injured netminders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. After an unfortunate rebound led to a Flyers goal, the Canes could not rally themselves back into the game.
The third Flyers’ goal of the game was when the Canes needed a goal. Newcomer Brady Skjei caught the edge of the puck attempting a pass behind the net, giving the Flyers an easy opportunity for a goal.
Of course, mistakes happen, but this should only give the Canes more of a reason to get back into the game. The important lesson here against the Flyers is that they can run away with the game after taking the lead. The Canes need to create that desperation that will be so important to a deep playoff run.
Up next is the division rival known for their power play.