Philadelphia Flyers: Season turned around with win over Bruins

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

On January 13, the Philadelphia Flyers were just past the midpoint of another so-so season when they turned everything around against the Boston Bruins.

The Philadelphia Flyers were perfectly average a little under two months ago, posting a record of 23-16-6 through their first 45 games and hanging around the fringe of the playoff race. They had recently completed a 1-4-1 road trip after Christmas that could best be described as “hot garbage” and had split their first two home games after coming back.

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After beating the Washington Capitals, they were shut out for the first time of the season on January 11 by the powerful Tampa Bay Lightning, which led into a game two days later against the visiting Boston Bruins (27-8-11 at the time) where the Flyers needed to play like a desperate team.

It appeared from the jump that it would be another disappointing night in South Philly, as the Bruins scored the first two goals. Forced to open the game up, the Flyers started trading blows with Boston, but they trailed 5-2 as the game reached the midpoint of regulation.

That’s when the game, and really the whole season, turned.

Goals by Sean Couturier and Connor Bunnaman (the first of his NHL career) narrowed the deficit to a single goal heading to the third, and Travis Sanheim scored with 7:02 left to even the score. The rally was tremendous, but it would still feel empty if the Flyers couldn’t get two points out of it. Following overtime, the teams went to the dreaded shootout, where it took until the fifth round for Travis Konecny to break though.

That put all the pressure on Brad Marchand to score and keep the game going.

You know what happened next. It will never stop being funny/amazing, and I even felt compelled to eulogize him in the wake of his mammoth blunder.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

But beyond that game being an all-timer of an ending, let’s not lose sight of how the Flyers got up off the mat to score two big points against one of the best teams in the league. Including that game, the Flyers are 18-4-1 since, and they’ve shot to the top of their division (well, technically tied for first) on the strength of their current 9-game winning streak.

And their top scorers have come to play. In 23 games, beginning with that win…

Oh, and after allowing five goals that night, Carter Hart is 9-1 since with a 1.91 GAA and a .934 save percentage.

Clearly, something clicked for everyone. Maybe it took a statement game like this where a supposedly superior foe took them for granted. The Flyers will take it, as it’s clearly galvanized this group into some fantastic hockey over the past few months.

The Boston Bruins will be coming back to town this Tuesday, boasting a league-leading 98 points. Clearly, they didn’t fall apart after such an embarrassing loss to the Flyers and still appear to be an excellent team.

But maybe the Flyers are already in their heads after the January comeback, and the Orange and Black have a chance to work their way even deeper if they can send the B’s home with another loss on Tuesday.

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The Flyers have accomplished a lot since that game two months ago, but there remains much work to do going forward. The next hurdle for the Flyers will be reminding Boston on Tuesday that they are a force to be reckoned with for any team hoping to survive the Eastern Conference.