The Flyers were the NHL’s hottest team, winners of nine of their last 10 games, and on pace for 106 points. They have topped that total just once in the last 33 seasons.
They have come together as a true team, displaying a relentless style at both ends of the ice and great chemistry.
7073彩票登录 They have a young goaltender, Carter Hart, poised to make his first appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have all four lines clicking, a nice blend of youth and veterans, and, thanks to several moves made by general manager Chuck Fletcher, a legitimate chance to win their first Cup since 1975.
Well, it was fun while it lasted. More fun, in fact, than any other Flyers team since 2009-10, the season Danny Briere and his teammates made an unforgettable run to the Finals.
As you know, this season came to a screeching halt Thursday 7073彩票登录because of the coronavirus outbreak. The NHL said the season had taken a “pause,” and it tried to make everyone feel comfortable that games will, indeed, restart in the near future.
There are no guarantees, and one has to wonder if the season does resume, would the Flyers’ momentum be stunted?
The games, of course, are secondary to keeping people healthy. Credit the league for suspending the season, closing arenas, and trying to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. It was the correct thing to do, without question.
7073彩票登录 No one knows, however, if the league will be back in two weeks, two months, or in October, when the 2020-21 season is scheduled to start.
7073彩票登录 No one knows if fans will be allowed in arenas if the league does decide to return.
7073彩票登录 No one knows if someone connected to the NHL — players, front-office personnel, arena workers, or media members — will come down with the coronavirus and cause the league’s “pause” to be extended.
7073彩票登录 Eventually, that might mean there will be no Stanley Cup champion crowned for the just the third time since 1893.
The first time was in 1919 because of the Spanish flu outbreak, which caused an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide and 675,000 in the United States, and the second time was when the season was called off in 2005 because of a lockout.
In 1919, the Stanley Cup Final was tied after five games (2-2-1) between the Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans. Officials then canceled the Final after numerous players and coaches were stricken with the flu. Montreal defenseman Joe Hall, who later was named to the Hall of Fame, died from complications from the illness.
7073彩票登录 Fast-forward to 2020, and let’s take a look at the best-case scenario: The virus seems under control, sicknesses are drastically reduced, and the league opens its practice facilities on, say, April 1, and cancels the rest of the regular season. That would give teams a week of practice before starting the Stanley Cup playoffs on April 8, the date they were originally scheduled to begin.
Would the league bag the rest of the regular season — the Flyers have 13 games left — and pick the playoff teams based on where they stood when the season was suspended indefinitely Thursday?
That makes the most sense. If not, the Stanley Cup playoffs could run into deep July, or later, and compete with baseball and, most likely, summer-vacation plans already booked by thousands of season-ticket holders.
If the teams were seeded by points percentage — which would be the most fair way to do it because of the disparity in games played — this is how the first-round matchups would look:
Boston (.714) vs. Islanders (.588)
Washington (.652) vs. Carolina (.596)
Tampa Bay (.657) vs. Toronto (.579)
Flyers (.645) vs. Pittsburgh (.623)
7073彩票登录 Injury-riddled Columbus (.579), which has played gallantly, would be edged by the Isles for the final wild-card spot.
St. Louis (.662) vs. Calgary (.564)
7073彩票登录 Vegas (.606) vs. Nashville (.565)
7073彩票登录 Colorado (.657) vs. Dallas (.594)
7073彩票登录 Edmonton (.585) vs. Vancouver (.565)
Winnipeg (.563) would be edged out of the final wild-card spot by Calgary.
The winner should not feel like a tainted champion. Heck, teams this season have played between 68 and 71 regular-season games, which is more than in 2012-13 and 1994-95 (48-game, lockout-shortened seasons). Teams played just 70 games a season from 1949-50 to 1966-67, and in the first half of the 20th century, they played 60-, 50- and 48-game seasons — and sometimes much fewer than those totals.
So if the season resumes, the champion — whether it be the Bruins, Blues, Capitals, Lightning, Flyers, Penguins, Avalanche, or some long shot — should not feel it was undeserved.
Here’s hoping, most important, that the coronavirus gets under control.
7073彩票登录 Second, here’s hoping the Flyers, under their new coach, Alain Vigneault, get a chance to finish what they started. This team has made hockey relevant again in Philadelphia. That was never more evident than in a poll I ran on 7073彩票登录, asking fans, before the NHL made its decision, if the season should be suspended.
7073彩票登录 Undoubtedly affected by the Flyers’ recent run, 55% of the nearly 5,000 responders said no.