By Tom Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On the eve of his 22nd birthday, goalie Carter Hart gave the Philadelphia Flyers something they haven’t had in eight years — a series lead in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hart allowed just one goal on 28 shots to lead the Flyers to a 2-1 win Wednesday night over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.

If the Flyers’ performance before the COVID-19 shutdown as well their play in the round-robin has fans thinking big, it should be warranted. The Flyers have a lot going for them with a talent pool as deep as the Pacific Ocean. According to MoneyPuck.com, the Orange and Black are also the Stanley Cup favorites.

After their win over the Canadiens in Game 1, the Flyers now have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup at 20.3% with the Vegas Golden Knights just behind them at 19.3%, according to MoneyPuck’s model.

The Game 1 victory also gives the Flyers a 76.4% chance of advancing to the second round, a 51.7% to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, and a 33.5% chance of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, per MoneyPuck.

MoneyPuck’s model projects the Flyers as the heavy favorite to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final. The Tampa Bay Lightning have an 18.6% chance of making the Final and a 9.6% chance to win the Cup.

For how MoneyPuck calculates its projections, click here.

In the final game of the round-robin, the Flyers unseated the Lightning for the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 4-1 win. With the NHL reseeding in these playoffs, that puts the Flyers in a favorable position throughout the postseason — in theory, they’ll have an “easier” path throughout the postseason.

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But as evidenced in Game 1 against Montreal, which surprised the hockey world by sending the Pittsburgh Penguins packing, on Sidney Crosby’s birthday nonetheless, the path isn’t going to easy.

The Flyers have their work cut out for them in order to end their 45-year Stanley Cup drought, but there’s a special feeling surrounding the team with plenty of reasons for optimism.

MoneyPuck’s projections are just one of them.