Flyers see season finale as a do-or-die for playoffs

Michael Raffl

Destiny can be a fleeting thing.

One minute you control it, the next – maybe not so much.

That’s what makes the Flyers’ season finale on Saturday against the Rangers so filled with intrigue.

If the Flyers don’t get at least one point out of their game against the Rangers, they hand their destiny to the Florida Panthers, who, with possible regulation/overtime wins over Buffalo and Boston would kick the Flyers’ 2018 playoff hopes to the curb.

The Flyers are thinking win, not some sort of last-gasp overtime/shootout nailbiter.

“You don’t have to hope that anybody loses or wins,’’ said Michael Raffl after Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. “You control your own destiny, and that’s all you can ask for at this point.”

Shayne Gostisbehere wants to remove all doubt as well.

“We’re not going to worry too much about other teams,’’ he said. “We know if we get a point here in the next game – and hopefully it’s two points – we know we’re in.

“So I think we controlled our destiny the whole time. We’ve been in a good spot the whole time. Our backs aren’t against the wall here. If we take care of business we’ll be fine.”

Claude Giroux was one of the heroes of the Flyers’ last game heroics in 2010 when Philadelphia beat the Rangers in a shootout to get into the playoffs on the last day of the season.

“I remember there were two games left,’’ Giroux recalled. “We had to win one of them against the Rangers. We lost in New York and came here and we were down 2-1 and Matt Carle scored with (about) five minutes left or something like that. That was a pretty exciting time. It was fun to play those games.”

This year’s Rangers are out of the playoffs but they are good enough to be spoilers and would like nothing better than to succeed in that role.

“We’re excited about it,’’ Giroux said. “The Rangers are a good team. The last time they came in here they played very well. We know it won’t be easy but if we play our game, we should be good.

“I think the focus is where it needs to be right now. We’re focused on our game, how we need to play. We can’t focus on Florida. We’re in control here. We just have to go out there, play the game hard and have fun.”

Giroux knows the stakes are high.

“When you know that your season might be over after the game, you give everything you have,’’ he said. “In playoffs, most of the games are like that. Hopefully we can learn from this and play our best.”

Coach Dave Hakstol expects his team will be ready for the challenge.

“It’s just a feeling of focus,’’ he said. “There’s good focus, real good energy. There’s not a lot said. We’ve known all along, going back several months, we know what the big picture is. The season gets shorter and shorter and that big picture narrows down.

“So there is not a lot that needs to be said … we’ve got to dial in on things that we need to do to be successful tomorrow.”

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About Wayne Fish 2437 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.

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