The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the adjective “clutch” as:
“Made or done in a crucial situation” or “Successful in a crucial situation.”
The Flyers were “clutch” on Wednesday night in Colorado as they beat the Avalanche 2-1 in regulation. This was a total team effort, a real gritty and tough performance from everyone on the bench. Dave Hakstol didn’t make many (if any) decisions that left you scratching your head, the goalie(s) played outstanding, and the offense did enough to get the job done.
The Flyers scored the games first goal on a beautiful (there isn’t a strong enough word, to be honest) from Shayne Gostisbehere to Claude Giroux. This goal was Giroux’s 93rd point of the year, tied for his career-high.
— NHL (@NHL) March 29, 2018
The Orange and Black put up their second goal later in the first period when Jordan Weal held the puck in the offensive zone and passed it back to Ivan Provorov to put the good guys up 2-0.
Provorov’s shot gets through traffic and finds twine! pic.twitter.com/cdD1hKFUeA
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) March 29, 2018
The first period ended without any more scoring. Michal Neuvirth looked awesome in his first game back. He was perfect in the first period and got off to a promising start in the second before allowing a goal to Matt Nieto. That goal aside, Neuvy was lights out. He made a handful of saves that should be considered acts of larceny. This save below is an example of the game he had, I’m pretty sure this is the reason he came out of the game halfway through the second period.
Neuvirth completely robs Rantanen pic.twitter.com/zjfTwqmhaO
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) March 29, 2018
Petr Mrazek came in to finish the game and was perfect, he didn’t allow a goal.
There weren’t any goals scored in the third period. It was as strange a period as I’ve seen recently. The Flyers had a nice push in the early goings of the third period. They had control up until about 8 minutes left in regulation. From then on it was nothing but the Avalanche occupying the Flyers zone. If we’re being honest, I’m shocked the Flyers didn’t snap under pressure.
These two points are as big as they come. The Flyers have four games left in the season and sit at 92 points, tied for second in the Metro with the Penguins. The two wildcard teams are the Blue Jackets (91 points, five games left), the Devils (88 points, six games left). The Panthers are still the first team out and they have 85 points with eight games left. The last three spots are still tight but these two points give the Flyers some nice breathing room.
That said, here are three takeaways from Wednesday night’s win over the Avalanche.
1. More goalie problems.
Neuvy didn’t finish the game and there is no update on his status. The Flyers don’t play again until Sunday, so I wouldn’t expect a move to be made until Friday at the earliest. I would assume Alex Lyon will be recalled and Neuvy will finish the season on the IR.
On the bright side, this is back to back solid performances by Petr Mrazek. It makes you wonder if he will build on the past two games or is he due for a bad game *knock on wood*. I’ve grown to like the duo of Petr Mrazek and Alex Lyon, however I still think it’s Brian Elliott’s job to lose once he returns.
2. Incredible defense.
Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers top two defenseman, played outstanding on Wednesday night. While the two combined for three points, they made a lot of plays that won’t show up on the stat sheet. They played a big part in shutting down the Avalanche’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen.
The Avs had their top line on the ice a lot on Wednesday, with how often I heard the names “MacKinnon” and “Landeskog” I’m shocked they didn’t have a point between the two of them.
Are the Avs playing exclusively their first line? I feel like I’m only hearing the names “Landeskog” and “MacKinnon”
— Philly Influencer (@PHL_Influencer) March 29, 2018
Good on Ghost and Provy to stymie the Avalanche’s best efforts. It’s only a matter of time before we hear Gostisbehere and Provorv’s names among the NHL’s elite defenseman. They’ve been that good this season.
3. It all stems from the leadership.
Claude Giroux is more important to the Flyers than any player to any team in the NHL. Go ahead, try to change my mind.
G is the heart and soul of this team and is having the best year of his career. He has this team giving their best effort night in and night out, especially on this road trip. This team gutted out a big time win and I think it stems from the on-ice leadership. Giroux never takes a shift off and it speaks volumes to the bench.
For the reason above and the fact that he’s tied for fourth in the league in points he should be a serious contender for the Hart Trophy, if not a finalist. You will never change my mind from that.
The Flyers have some time off but return to action on Sunday to take on the Bruins at home.