Ex-Flyers adding magic to Florida’s Cinderella run

Former Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas.

It’s become an annual rite of spring.

With the Flyers out of the playoffs for the past three seasons, local hockey nuts need someone to root for in the chase for the Stanley Cup.

So what better candidates than former members of the Philadelphia hockey team now playing for legitimate contending clubs still in the hunt?

Like, for example, the Florida Panthers.

Last month, no one seemed to take the wild card outfit very seriously at all.

The Panthers barely made it into postseason play and there were plenty of question marks, such as who was going to play in goal once competition got underway.

The Panthers, winners of the 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy (but bounced early), were heavy underdogs to the record-setting Boston Bruins in the first round.

But a pair of ex-Flyer goaltenders changed all that.

Career backup goalie Alex Lyon started the first few games and played well beyond his paycheck.

Then two-time Vezina Trophy winner rode in on a white horse and helped carry the Panthers to a major seven-game upset.

It gets even better.

In the second round the Panthers were up against another powerful favorite, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canada club, Cup-less since 1967, feature four of the most prolific offensive players in the game.

No matter. The Florida boys raced to three straight wins, lost Game 4, but were as cool as the ice chip bin on a Zamboni for Game 5.

And lo and behold, the game goes to overtime and which two players supply the killer? None other than Flyer alumni members Radko Gudas with the primary assist and Nick Cousins with the dagger on a beautiful break-in shot.

Finally, on Thursday night, it was more of the same as Gudas, Cousins and Bobrovsky all played well in Florida’s quadruple overtime vanquishing of Metropolitan Division champion Carolina on the Hurricanes’ home ice. By the way, the sixth-longest game in NHL history.

On Saturday night, the Panthers did it again, defeating the Hurricanes in another overtime affair.

Now granted, Carolina is coached by former Flyer favorite Rod Brind’Amour and one of its best defensemen is Shayne “Ghost” Gostisbehere, so between the two teams, you have to wonder which team to root for and how so much talent got away from Philadelphia.

Good question.

In the case of Bobrovsky, the Flyers were under the impression they might be better off with another goalie, the rather wacky Ilya Bryzgalov, who was signed to a nine-year, $51-million contract in 2011.

So that spelled the end for Bobrovsky’s tenure in Philadelphia. As a rookie, he had started the 2010-11 season but the Flyers apparently didn’t appreciate his potential talent.

Needless to say, the Bryzgalov contract didn’t work out too well either.

Cousins, somewhat of a nomad around the NHL since leaving the Flyers, seems to have found a home in Florida and good for him. He had some tough times off the ice in the formative stages of his career here but that all seems straightened out now.

It would be good for hockey if the Panthers were to continue this unexpected run and win the Cup, which would be their first. Regardless of the sport, it’s always pretty cool when fans get an unexpected winner.

 

>Upgrade video review

 

This next segment is about something that’s hardly anything new but bears further discussion, namely video review of pucks either crossing or not crossing the goal line.

Often on these controversial plays, camera views produce somewhat questionable results because the puck is hidden by the goaltender’s equipment.

And by the way, by the time the folks up in Toronto make up their minds, fans have either broken out their cellphones or headed to the bathroom.

It’s 2023, can’t we find some sort of technology which will remove all doubt. What about sensors? You know, like the electric eye types which go off if someone tries to shoplift something from a drugstore?

If we can go back to the moon, can’t we figure out a way to make sure a little rubber disk has slid across a painted line on an ice surface?

Call me when someone comes up with the answer.

 

>Kids doing well at World Championships

 

Two Flyers youngsters have been playing well for the United States in the World Championships in Finland.

Defenseman Ronnie Attard scored a goal in Monday’s win over Germany, although he was a healthy scratch for a game against Austria later in the week.

Last year’s first-round draft pick (fifth overall) Cutter Gauthier has been a shooting machine. He led the Americans in shots in one game with seven. Sunday, he scored a hat trick in a 9-0 win over France.

Gauthier is scheduled to return to Boston College for a second year with the Eagles but he’s already showing signs of NHL potential.

 

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About Wayne Fish 2348 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.