Philadelphia Flyers: Top 5 most clutch players of the 2019-20 season

Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
6 of 6
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

1. Kevin Hayes

The Duke of Dorchester, Gritty’s Roommate, the All-Around Nice Guy, Hollywood and the Best One. Kevin Hayes is a man of many names.

Yet there is one descriptor that follows Hayes indefinitely, weaving through each and every one of his multiple aliases and personas: clutch.

After signing a lucrative seven-year deal with the Flyers in the offseason, the hulking center quickly won over the hearts and minds of the Philadelphia faithful. Through his strong two-way play, magnetic personality and penchant for scoring goals in the most electrifying fashion, Hayes quickly turned the cacophony of discontent regarding his contract, to a chorus of praise and adoration.

It should be no surprise to see Hayes at the head of this list. Not only has he united the locker room after a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign, but he has acted as a catalyst for some of the most recognizable plays and moments of the Flyers season.

Hayes’s five game-winning goals – four of which were scored against division opponents – sits second on the team only to Giroux. His heat-seeking wrist shot on former teammate Henrik Lundqvist in his first meeting against his former team could earn him a spot on this list on its own.

However, Hayes holds a leg up on the rest of the team because he has proven he can bust loose to win a game despite the on-ice situation.

Hayes leads the NHL with four shorthanded goals this season, two of which were game winners vs Columbus and Washington.

The other two – versus Detroit and Colorado – helped the Flyers regain control of the game when their opponents looked to be on the verge of swinging the tide of play.

In all four cases, Hayes turned a position of weakness into a strength, inverting what should have been a chance for the opposing squad to take the lead or claw back into the game. Instead of settling in and sitting back, the Boston native saddled up and went on the attack, catching his opponents off guard and setting the rest of his team ablaze.

Finally, Hayes was instrumental in creating what is quite possibly the signature moment of the Flyers season. During the second game of a home-and-home with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flyers erased a two-goal deficit to force overtime vs their division rival. In the ensuing overtime, Hayes took a stretch pass from Travis Konecny, wormed his way through the Blue Jackets zone,  and fired the game winner past Elvis Merzlikins.

The goal, which was followed by his now iconic “Championship Belt” celebration, elevated the Flyers up from the chaos of the Wild Card race and into the conversation of the league’s best.

Next. The season I fell in love with the Philadelphia Flyers. dark

Follow FanSided NHL for more news, analysis, opinion and unique coverage about hockey in all forms throughout the entire 2019-20 NHL season and beyond.