Don't forget about the Philadelphia Flyers

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Briere.jpgWhat the Montreal Canadiens have been able to do so far in the
playoffs is certainly tremendous. They’re the eighth seed in the East
and have taken out the two darlings of the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins
and the Washington Capitals.

No more Sid. No more Ovi. All thanks
to the Canadiens.

But we can’t forget about the Philadelphia
Flyers have the chance to accomplish.

The Flyers were a team
that everyone wrote off at the end of the season, as they needed a
shootout win just to make the playoffs and were playing with an injury
depleted team with Brian Boucher in net. While they’d never admit it,
I’m sure there was even a number of Flyers fans certain that their team
didn’t have much hope in the postseason.

Now, after a relatively
easy win against the New Jersey Devils in round one, the Flyers are on
the doorstep of making history. It’s an improbable scenario that no one
could have seen coming, especially with how the Boston Bruins played in
the first three games. Only two teams in the history of the NHL have
come back from being down 3-0 in a series to win, and the Flyers have
all the momentum heading into tomorrow night’s Game 7 showdown.

They’re
receiving big play from the players they need it most from, no more so
than what’s happened with Daniel Briere in the second round. He’s done
nothing but play better and more dominant as the series has progressed
and last night was a difference maker for his team in a game that was
likely much closer than expected.

The Flyers have been able to
find success with an incredible amount of injuries to key players, with
Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Dan Carcillo all being affected by
injuries. Gagne’s early return with a broken toe helped to spark the
Flyers in Game 4 and now the team has Michael Leighton in net after
Brian Boucher was likely lost for the playoffs.

Successful teams
in the playoffs are able to overcome injuries and whatever adversity
comes their way, rarely able to just roll over the competition on their
way to the Stanley Cup. No one expected the Flyers to get this far and
yet here we are, on the eve of a historic Game 7 that could propel the
team into perhaps the most unexpected Conference finals matchup we’ve
ever seen in the NHL.

The Flyers are a hungry team now, feeling
the momentum build as they collected three wins in a row. They know that
Game 6 is just another win and all that matters is what happens on
Friday night. From
CSN Philly:

The real test for Briere and his
teammates will come Friday in
Boston, when the Flyers’ playoff fate will be decided. They are the
first team since the 1975 New York Islanders to force a Game 7 after
being down 3-0 in a series.

But, Briere said, that isn’t what
he’s after.

“That’s not good enough,” Briere said. “I want to be
part of that three teams that came all the way back and clinched. We
know what’s at stake, and it’s very special.”

Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

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Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.

Pavelec makes highlight reel save, gets win in return to Jets’ net

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28:  Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets dives across to make a first period save against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Jets 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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With an expiring contract, Ondrej Pavelec’s time with the Winnipeg Jets is nearing an end. Plenty of Jets fans would say, mercifully.

Still, he did return to the Winnipeg Jets net on Wednesday for his first NHL appearance since April 9, 2016, to mostly successful results. The Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3, for one thing.

Beyond that, it probably felt like a typical Pavelec start for many Jets fans, though some would contest that it would also need to involve a loss.

There were those regrettable moments, like giving up a goal right away:

Even his critics would probably agree that Pavelec does have a knack for making breathtaking saves:

It’s unclear how many more times we’ll see Pavelec play for the Jets (or an NHL team in general). His performance – if given more chances – in the near future may determine that answer.

If nothing else, his 2016-17 debut felt pretty fitting.

Connor McDavid hits the 100-point mark, scores OT-winner (or did he?)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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PHT brings you the hard-hitting math, as you know, so here’s the latest burst: Connor McDavid is more than a point-per-game player.

You see, he scored the 100th point of his promising NHL career, and he did so in just his 92nd career game on Wednesday. Let us remind you that he’s just 20 years old (and he turned 20 on Jan. 13). Yeah.

Point 100 came on via an assist on a Zack Kassian goal as the Edmonton Oilers went up 1-0 against the Florida Panthers.

Here’s the clip:

Update: There’s debate regarding whether McDavid’s overtime-winner should have counted or not, but either way, it’s impressive that he generated a goal and an assist after hitting the 100-point mark. So it’s now 102 points in 92 games.

Here’s that contested goal:

 

Video: This assist helps explain why Red Wings might not trade Vanek

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In the video above, you can see Bob McKenzie lay out the Detroit Red Wings’ status as the trade deadline begins to look like more of a consideration.

Considering their playoff streak, it’s not that shocking that they’re at least struggling with the idea of being sellers. More than a few people probably did a double-take (or spit-take?) when McKenzie noted that management might opt to re-sign forward/remarkable reclamation project Thomas Vanek instead of moving him for assets.

It’s reasonable to question that logic, but then you see what he’s doing lately, particularly the chemistry he seems to be building with Andreas Athanasiou.

Wednesday’s gorgeous assist to Athanasiou illustrates some of that brilliance, if stats bore you:

If stats tell some of the story, well, they’re impressive. Vanek now has a seven-game point streak with the assist; if he doesn’t score another point, he’ll have 10 points during that span. He also has at least a point in 11 of his last 12 contests.

Athanasiou’s really “feeling it” lately, too. If he stays at a goal tonight, he’ll have five goals and eight points in his last seven games, only failing to generate a point in two of those contests. His speed and skill really seem to be coming to the surface, a great sign for the 22-year-old.

Still, Vanek is 32, and the Red Wings would need a heck of a run to even make the playoffs. So that’s where the discussion gets a little sticky.

There’s still time to sort that out, though. In the meantime, fans should enjoy what those two have been accomplishing, even if many want the window to close on that combo soon.