Flyers-Canadiens: Postgame Review
What a journey it has been for the Flyers as they have climbed from the depths of the division to reach the summit, at least for now.
A 1-0 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens coupled with Washington's 5-1 loss to Columbus moved the Flyers into first place in the Metropolitan Division as the Flyers finished off a dominant February on an all-time high note.
Let's hit it with our Postgame Review.
- First Time Feeling - The unlikely nature of the win makes it feel that much sweeter. We'll get into the specifics of how it really wasn't the Flyers night, but ultimately this win just put the icing on the cake in a tremendous month.The Flyers posted a 10-1-2 record in February, going 10-0-1 in the final 11 games in the month, and now have climbed all the way back, up the division and into first place. What a run for this team not just in the last month, where the points have really piled up, but the last three months since this turnaround began.The win also comes via a shootout. It's no secret how much the Flyers struggle in the glorified skills competition, but Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier come up clutch. Oh, and the goalie had a thing or two to do with it too.
- Mrazek Makes His Mark - It's only been three starts for Petr Mrazek, but this was easily his best. Mrazek was excellent all the way through, having to bail the Flyers out on several turnovers and high-quality scoring chances.This is the reason Mrazek is here. Ron Hextall made this move to reward the rest of the team for getting this far in their bid for the playoffs. Mrazek is here to be the serviceable and capable starter as the team heads for a playoff run.A 28-save performance in the 65 minutes of gameplay and four more saves in the shootout should answer any questions about Mrazek. Just like the Flyers netminders all season, when Mrazek is on, he's as good as anybody.
- Miscues - Now for a reality check: this was not a very good game for the Flyers. Passing was sloppy. The special teams game was alright with the power play getting some chances but no goals and the penalty kill doing a solid job on their only kill of the game.But for a team that had been building their game on structure and stability and trying to play mistake-free hockey, it felt like all three weren't there at times. Montreal had way too many high-quality chances. The Flyers struggled for extended periods to get the puck out of the zone cleanly and turn the momentum. It felt more like a game the Flyers were trying not to lose than to win at times.Of course, things can change quickly and the Flyers did turn things up in the third and overtime with scoring chances to try to take the game before the shootout.What was refreshing was to hear the players acknowledge that it wasn't a great game but the result went their way. Claude Giroux may have said it best, acknowledging that it wasn't their best game and probably a game they don't win a few months earlier, but a confident bunch was able to roll with the flow of the game and stay the course.
- A Step in the Right Direction - For the last few days, Travis Konecny's foot was a big subject. He didn't play against Columbus on Thursday after taking warmups and he managed to get through Saturday's win, though not quite at the level he normally plays when fully healthy.This was Konecny back to form. The speed was back and he was constantly a scoring threat in the game.In overtime, Konecny was the star for the Flyers who just couldn't find a way to score, but not for a lack of trying. He charged up the wing with speed and missed the net on one chance. He dangled through bodies to get a tremendous scoring chance that hit the post and surely would have been the goal of the year for the Flyers if it went in. He was robbed point-blank on a one-timer later in overtime as well.Konecny has been a driving force for the Flyers in the second half of the season and he certainly looked back to form in this game after missing one game and looking like he was still battling the effects of a foot injury in another.
- More of the Same - This was actually a perfect game for the Flyers to show they can gut things out and get a win, mainly because there is a lot more of this to come.Montreal is a perfect example of a team with nothing to lose when they play. They took the ice following the trade deadline knowing the fate of the season had already been decided by what the standings said and what the organization did in selling at the deadline. So what do you do? Play spoiler.The Flyers will get a healthy dose of teams trying to do just that. They will also see a lot of tight-checking games, especially late in games, against teams that used the deadline to improve in their playoff push, like Pittsburgh, Tampa and Boston.