By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
The competitive nature and full meaning of the Round Robin games was certainly debatable over the last week. The four teams playing did not have to worry about elimination just yet. And maybe that didn't mean anything to the teams in that position.
The games did mean something to the Flyers though. While there was certainly a strategy to playing out those games to ensure health and the level of preparation for the first round, the Flyers did go out and win all three Round Robin games they played, vaulting from the fourth seed to the first seed. That set up a first-round series matchup against the shocker of this 24-team tournament on the Eastern Conference side, a meeting with the 12-seed Montreal Canadiens.
For the Flyers, they are in a new position. They are resting their playoff hopes on a 21-year-old (soon to be 22-year-old) goalie who has shown all the potential in the world to lead a run. At the other end of the ice stands his idol, veteran netminder Carey Price, who will certainly present a challenge to a franchise with a lot of young talent and entering their first playoff series in eight years as the team with the higher seed.
Game 1 is set for 8 p.m.
Carter Hart does technically have two playoff games under his belt, but this is the real deal now. He starts his first playoff series with his idol in the other crease. So far, Hart has looked every bit the part of a top goaltender. He has allowed one goal in each of his Round Robin starts and has a .966 save percentage, which is best in the league among goaltenders with more than one start in the playoffs.
While the Canadiens series win over Pittsburgh wasn't all Carey Price, it was largely due to his performance. From the start, Price was sharp, making 18 saves in the opening period of the series. That set the tone for the rest. Price allowed just seven goals in the series – Pittsburgh had an empty-net goal as well to total eight in the series – and posted a .947 save percentage over the four-game series, capping it off with a 21-save shutout.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Canadiens Projected Lineup
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