There has been a lot of pearl-clutching among the Philadelphia Flyers fan base and media of late, over the potential impact of a recent COVID-19 protocol “pause” in their season. Mid-February, the Flyers went more than a week since playing their last game, and there was still uncertainty as to when some of the seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list might return - a list that included top players such as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny.
While cause for concern is understandable, I think the Flyers might actually benefit from the COVID-19 pause, and NHL Stanley Cup futures bettors should keep this in mind.
I think teams that did NOT go through a COVID-19 pause are more at risk of being tired and perhaps more injury-prone by early May, when the NHL regular season is slated to end. Furthermore, I believe teams such as the Flyers can - if they play their cards right - have an advantage over those teams at that time and into the playoffs.
Any team that didn’t have a COVID-19 pause will have played a truncated, 56-game schedule by May. They will have had few days off between games to that point. It’s not scientifically proven, but most coaches believe in the saying “tired players become injured players.”
Yeah, the Flyers will get rolling again post-pause and have more energy than their division competitors after that. They are a very good team, currently at +1700 at most PA Online portsbooks to win the Stanley Cup. That places them among the top eight teams as “favorites” to win it all.
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The Flyers still have some issues on defense, but Carter Hart is showing more and more that he’s one of the league’s best young netminders. I think the Flyers took a nice step as a team by sweeping the round-robin portion of the 2020 playoffs, then beating the Canadiens in the first round.
Hart got off to a bit of a slow start before the pause, with a below-average .897 save percentage. I think the pause will prove good for him maybe the most, as he’s no doubt had lots of time to analyze video of his game and work out some of the bugs. Keep in mind, Hart is still just 22, but he already seems like a veteran in some respects.
Of course, Flyer fans no doubt had been bummed about not seeing their team play for a while. But, in the big picture, this layoff might well prove to be one of the best things to happen to them.