1) Monday schedule at the 2019 IIHF World Championships: Carter Hart could make his third start of the tournament for Team Canada when Alain Vigneault's team (4-1-0) takes on Denmark (2-3-0) on Monday in Slovakia. Sean Couturier (1G, 1A) and Philippe Myers (2 GP) will also be in action for the Canadians. Earlier in the day, two-time defending gold medalist Sweden (4-1-0) will take on Latvia (2-3-0). Oskar Lindblom (3G, 1A) will be in action for sure, while Robert Hägg has dressed in all five games but did not skate a shift last match. In the meantime, Michael Raffl (5 GP, 2G) and Austria (0-6-0, 6GF/ 36GA) need a victory over Italy (0-6-0, 1GF/ 45GA) to avoid relegation.
2) A deflection goal and a picturesque assist by James van Riemsdyk spurred a hard-fought 3-1 win for Team USA (5-1-0, 14 points) over Germany (4-2-0) on Sunday, while Jakub Voracek and Radko Gudas each collected two assists in an 8-0 blowout of Austria. Raffl was rested in this game for the Austrians. For more information on Sunday's action, click here.
3) 2019 Memorial Cup: The Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm dropped to 1-1-0 in the Memorial Cup round robin as they lost a 4-2 decision to the tournament host Halifax Mooseheads (2-0-0) of the QMJHL on Sunday. Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe had a frustrating game, taking three trips to the penalty box (two which left the Storm shorthanded, the other an end-of-second period scrum that evened out) including a third-period boarding penalty with his team down by two goals. The streak-scoring Ratcliffe, who has one assist in the two games, was credited with four shots on goal in this game. On Tuesday, the Storm will play the Western Hockey League champion Prince Albert Raiders (currently 0-1-0). On Monday, the Raiders take on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (0-1-0).
4) May 20 Flyers Alumni birthday: The late Dave Hoyda (1957-2015) was born in Edmonton on this day in 1957. Hoyda was widely considered by his peers to be one of the toughest, albeit lesser known fighters of his era. After his playing days, he lived in Oklahoma (where he finished his career in the minor leagues) for most of the remainder of his life. Hoyda passed away on Feb. 8, 2015 from injuries suffered in a fire at his home.
5) Today in Flyers History -- May 20, 1987: Hockey is a game of inches. Early in overtime of Game 2 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final between the Flyers and Edmonton Oilers, Flyers center Peter Zezel unleashed a slapshot from a stride inside the left point and used a defender as a partial high screen. Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr reacted late to the shot and was beaten but the puck whistled just wide of the long side by several inches. Two shifts later, at the 6:50 mark, Jari Kurri took a pass from Wayne Gretzky and beat Ron Hextall to end the game.
In the middle of the third period of Game 6 of the same series, Flyers defenseman J.J. Daigneault scored one of the famous goals in Flyers history on a similar play to the Zezel OT miss. Daigneault had teammate Scott Mellanby providing a heavier screen (and maybe even partially deflecting the puck) but the puck was shot from just about the same area and similarly stepped into just over the blueline. Again, Fuhr was beaten but this time the puck went in the net.
If Zezel's attempt had gone in the net rather than through the crease and just wide -- a microcosmic difference in the actual shot mechanics -- and the rest of the series had been identical, Daigneault's goal would have been the Cup winner rather than Philly ultimately losing a hard-fought Game 7 back in Edmonton.
On the flip side, if Daigneault's shot had also missed the net OR if Hextall had not miraculously recovered from being caught out of the net on an ill-advised aerial clearing attempt in the final 10 seconds and Philly went on to lose another OT decision, Game 6 very well could have ended the series in Edmonton's favor sooner and been an excruciating rather than a happy memory for Flyers fans.
Hockey is a game of inches. The Zezel OT shot in Game 2 became an obscure, long-forgotten moment because it missed the net and play simply continued. Many forget the Hextall turnover to Mark Messier in the final 10 seconds of Game 6 because Edmonton did not score and time expired. The Daigneault goal earlier in the period is forever replayed in Flyers history montages. It's those little moments -- some of which go down in history because they end up as goals, most of which get forgotten because they don't -- that can ultimately swing the outcome of a game or a championship.
6) Today in Flyers History -- May 20, 1997: This one is a happier recollection. In Game 3 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Final between the Flyers and Rangers, the Flyers prevailed 6-3 at Madison Square Garden behind a hat trick by Eric Lindros. The third period was wild, with Philly blowing leads of 2-0 and 3-2 before three goals in the final 5:01 by Trent Klatt, Rod Brind'Amour and Lindros sealed the win and gave Philly a two games to one lead in the series.
Lindros' third goal of the game and second of the final period was an empty netter but it was no run-of-the-mill cheapie. On the play, he caught up to and then passed by Messier in a battle for a loose puck to eventually score the goal. At the time, the way the play unfolded was seen as symbolic of the changing of the generational guard in the NHL.
7) Today in Flyers History -- May, 20, 2004: Trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 late in the third period of Game 6 of a classic 2004 Eastern Conference Finals series, the Philadelphia Flyers faced playoff elimination. Enter Flyers captain Keith Primeau.
Enjoying a spectacular playoff run marked by one clutch goal or assist after another, Primeau virtually willed the Flyers to tie the game. First, he won a puck battle in the corner and got the puck out to defenseman Mattias Timander at the left point. Collecting the loose rebound of Timander's shot near the left post, Primeau quickly wheeled around behind the net and stuffed the puck home past goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to knot the game at 18:11. The orange-clad home crowd went bonkers.
Overtime was grueling and tense. Finally, with time ticking down under two minutes, Jeremy Roenick won a battle (while down on his knees) behind the net and shoveled the puck to Simon Gagne in the right corner. Gagne then sent the puck back around behind the net to Primeau, who skated out front. With Roenick moving toward the left slot, Primeau sent a pass to Roenick. With a defender in close proximity, Roenick spotted Gagne getting open near the right post. An accurate Roenick pass and a quick finish by Gagne later at the 18:18 mark, and the Flyers had a 5-4 win.
Both Primeau and Gagne scored twice in the game. Each player tallied in the first period to erased an early 1-0 deficit. Sami Kapanen notched a second-period goal for Philly. However, a pair of goals by Vincent Lecavalier and Ruslan Fedotenko provided Tampa with the 4-3 lead they took into the latter stages of the third period.
Tampa Bay went on to win Game 7 on home ice by a 2-1 score. Primeau, who by now was primarily used as a shutdown defensive center and had tallied just 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 54 games during the regular season, finished his magical postseason run with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 18 games.
8) Today in Flyers History: May 20, 1974 and May 20, 1975-- The Flyers first Stanley Cup parade was held on this date in 1974. One year later, the Flyers lost the infamous overtime "Fog Game" in Buffalo, 5-4, in Game 3 the 1975 Stanley Cup Final. However, the Flyers ultimately went on to win the series in six games and capture their second straight Stanley Cup championship.