Quick Hits: May 22, 2019
1) WHC medal round quarterfinals set: After an off-day on Wednesday, the 2019 IIHF World Championships will move on to the single-elimination medal round. The matchups will be as follows:
* Canada (1st Place, Group A) vs. Switzerland (4th Place, Group B)
* Russia (1st Place, Group B) vs. USA (4th place, Group A)
* Finland (2nd place, Group A) vs. Sweden (3rd place, Group B)
* Czech Republic (2nd place, Group B) vs. Germany (3rd place, Group A)
2) On Tuesday, Team Canada shut out Team USA, 3-0, Russia routed two-time defending gold medalist Sweden by a 7-4 count, and the Czech Republic squeaked past Switzerland, 5-4. Among Flyers players, Jakub Voracek was the biggest standout. His 2-on-1 goal and pair of primary assists against Switzerland gave him 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) for the tourney and tied him for the tournament scoring lead.
3) After opening the tourney with a four-game point streak (three goals, one assist), Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom's ice time plummeted after more experienced NHL players became available to Tre Kronor, including Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog. On Tuesday against Russia, Team Sweden coach Rikard Grönborg dressed Lindblom as the 13th forward (under IIHF rules, teams can dress 20 skaters rather than 18). He played a single four-second shift in the first period, none in the second, and a little over three minutes in the third period. Meanwhile, Robert Hägg was the 7th defenseman for the third straight game, and once again did not skate a single shift.
4) Memorial Cup Update: Flyers left wing prospect Isaac Ratcliffe scored a slick goal off the rush and collected a pair of primary assists on Nick Suzuki goals as their OHL champion Guelph Storm club defeated the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders, 5-2, in Halifax on Tuesday. Ratcliffe was awarded first-star honors. He has four points in three games. The Storm (2-1-0) clinched a spot in the semifinals with the win over Prince Albert (0-3-0), who were eliminated from the tournament. On Wednesday, the undefeated host Halifax Mooseheads (2-0-0) wrap up the round robin against the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1-1-0). The team that finishes first in the round-robin will get a bye in the semis.
5) Congratulations to former Flyers player and coach Craig Berube for steering the St. Louis Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. The last time the Blues played in the Cup Final was way back in 1970, when they lost to Boston. St. Louis, which entered the NHL along with the Flyers and four other teams (Pittsburgh Penguins, LA Kings, Minnesota North Stars and the now-defunct California Seals) in 1967, have never won the Stanley Cup in their franchise history.
6) Every single NHL franchise knows how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup. Along with good design it also takes a bit of good luck or at least good timing: peaking at just the right time, key players staying healthy, favorable matchups, hot goaltending and winning a few playoff OT games and/or hard-fought key games that could have swung either way.
Additionally, once a team is a decade removed from winning its most recent Cup, relatively few of the players on its championship roster are still active in the NHL and there is a possibility that none of the still-active ones are still with the team with whom they won the Cup. That's just the nature of the game and the business of hockey.
The Flyers are in a fallow period since 2012 but have had 6 Finals appearances since their last Cup and 7 additional trips to Conf Final/ Cup Semis This past season, Flyers became the first non-Original 6 team to 2,000 RS wins, and 2nd-fastest in NHL history. That is a measure of success in its own right, albeit not ultimate success. If "success vs. failure" is defined ONLY by the space between Cup wins, then every team has had its own long spells of being failures. It's not just the Flyers and Blues.
Post-1980 Expansion team Stanley Cups:
San Jose- 0 (eliminated last night)
OTT - 0
TB - 1 (15 years ago)
FLA - 0
ANA - 1 (12 years ago)
NSH - 0
ATL/WPG - 0
CBJ - 0 (won a single playoff series for first time in franchise history this season).
VGK 0 in 2 seasons (but reached finals in 1st season)
Among the 1979-80 WHA merger additions:
QUE/COL 2 (last one 18 years ago)
HRT/CAR - 1 (13 years ago)
WPG/PHO/AZ - 0
EDM - 5 (last one 29 years ago)
1970s expansion teams:
BUF: 0 (have missed playoffs last 8 yrs, last playoff series win was 12 yrs ago)
WSH - 1 (took 44 yrs, swept in only other Finals appearances)
NYI - 4 (last one 35 yrs ago)
ATL/CGY: 1 (only Cup was 30 yrs ago
KC/CLE - 0 (defunct for 41 yrs)
COL/NJ - 3 (last one 16 yrs ago, have missed playoffs 7 of last seasons, last playoff series win 7 yrs ago as with Flyers)
1967 expansion teams:
PIT: 5 (However, team history includes two bankruptcies, two extended eras of tanking in 1980s and pre-lockout 2000s, saved by a league bailout, a heavily weighted post-lockout draft lottery that handed them Crosby and a PA taxpayer funded arena to avoid relocation to Kansas City)
MIN/DAL: 1 (last one 20 years ago)
LA: 2 (took 45 years for first, last playoff series win was 2014 Cup Final)
STL: 0 (2019 Cup Finalist, looking for their first championship)
CAL/OAK: 0 (defunct for 41 years)
"Original Six" Cup wins since '67 expansion:
NYR - 1 (25 yrs ago, 1 Cup in last 79 years)
CHI: 3 (49-year drought ended in 2010, last playoff series win was 2015 Cup Final, out of playoffs last 2 seasons)
TOR - 0 (also zero Cup Finals appearances since 1967)
MTL: 10 (but last one 26 yrs ago, 1 Cup in last 33 yrs, missed playoffs 3 of last 4 seasons, last won a single playoff round in 2015)
BOS - 3 (still a chance this playoff, last Cup 8 yrs ago, 2011 Cup ended a 40-year drought)
DET: 4 (last one 11 yrs ago, 1997 Cup ended a 42-yr drought, have missed playoffs each last 3 yrs, last time winning a playoff round was 6 years ago, 1 playoff series win in last 8 yrs).
7) May 22 in Flyers History: On May 22, 1970, the Flyers acquired defenseman Barry Ashbee in a trade with the Boston Bruins. For more, click here
8) May 22 Flyers Alumni birthday: Janne Niinimaa (1975).