Tippett’s Sensational Goal Symbolic of ‘Something Special’ Building for Flyers
The game on Thursday night was impressive enough for the Flyers. After opening up a massive 30-9 lead in shots through two periods, they were still clinging to a 2-1 lead where it counted. A power-play goal by Cam Atkinson in the opening minute of the third period and a penalty shot goal by Scott Laughton at the halfway point opened it up to a 4-1 game.The Flyers had assumed complete control.
The sensational spin-o-rama goal was Tippett’s second of the game and 18th of the season. After making the highlight reel already on Monday night with his game-winning goal, Tippett one-upped himself with a Goal of the Year candidate.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Just that morning, Flyers head coach John Tortorella had spoken about the potential that Tippett has.
““He has a chance – I don’t know where it goes – he has an opportunity to be a really good player in this league,” Tortorella said. “He’s kind of all over the place away from the puck, and I try to balance that and teaching him that part of the game without getting in the way offensive, cause he’s so dangerous. The limit there, I have no idea where it goes. He could be a really good player.”
After the game, Tortorella essentially repeated the sentiment, particularly noting the rarity of the highlight-reel goal.
“He has a chance to be something special,” Tortorella said. “I think he feels good about his game, hitting the net more with his shot. I haven’t seen a goal like that – I’ve seen a lot of good goals – I haven’t seen one like that in a while.”
Special. It’s symbolic that Tortorella used that word. It not only describes the potential Tippett is displaying, but embodies the entire team.
The win on Thursday brought the Flyers winning streak to five games. This five-game streak featured a pair of two-goal comebacks, a shutout win against the NHL’s points leader, and a dominant win over a Top-10 team that many consider a Stanley Cup contender. Since Nov. 10, the Flyers have a 20-7-5 record. The 45 points in the standings over that time is tied for second-most.
Every time a potential roadblock is thrown in their path, the Flyers just power through it. Against the eight teams ahead of the Flyers in the NHL standings entering Friday, the Flyers have a 6-2-1 record. They have two more games against teams in that category in the next week, including their next game Saturday against Colorado.
How are they doing this? They don’t have a superstar-level player in the lineup nightly. They don’t have the most talented or most experienced team. How do they keep defying the odds?
Tortorella’s answer regarding Tippett’s goal may help shed some light on that.
“Tipp’s just playing. He’s just not thinking, he’s playing,” Tortorella said. “He doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing on that goal, he’s just playing. That’s a good state to be in. I’m hoping they can keep it as long as possible.”
It seems like Tippett is hardly the only one playing with that carefree mindset. Morgan Frost made a no-look pass to spring Sean Walker on a breakaway for the opening goal on Thursday. Atkinson has scored three goals in the last three games after a 26-game goalless drought. Laughton made a series of great moves on the penalty shot goal.
It’s creating a special vibe around the locker room. This is a team united in their performances. They deliver an honest effort any night. And if they didn’t have your attention before with grind-it-out victories against top NHL teams, Tippett’s spin-o-rama goal should have you on full notice.
The Flyers deserve your attention, especially as a potential playoff appearance becomes more and more of a definitive reality than a hopeful possibility.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on social media @Kevin_Durso.
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