Flyers still in the mix but time is running out

Travis Konecny

      With no Eastern Conference games of consequence scheduled for Friday night, the Flyers and their followers will have to wait until Saturday action to see if they can live to see another day.

      As Philadelphia has only two games left on its schedule – including Saturday’s home encounter with the New Jersey Devils (5 p.m.) – the margin for error is slim.

      There are only two spots left open in the East and five teams competing for them.

      In the Flyers’ situation, the old line about “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” never held truer.

      Pertaining to the Flyers (85 points), they not only have to defeat the Devils on Saturday but hope they get help from the Boston Bruins, who visit Pittsburgh (86 points), as well as Tampa Bay, which travels to Washington (85 points) and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who play host to the Detroit Red Wings (85 points).

      Meanwhile, the Islanders (89 points) need only one point to eliminate the Flyers from third place in the Metro.

      All four of those aforementioned contenders – New York, Pittsburgh, Washington and Detroit – have a game in hand on the Flyers.

      There are too many possibilities remaining to list but suffice to say the Flyers must do well in their last two games – including the finale against Washington on Tuesday – to prevent an early start to summer.

      Coach John Tortorella had some of his faith restored after the Flyers manhandled the NHL’s top-point team, the New York Rangers, in a 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

      The performance reminded the NHL community that the Flyers did hold a playoff spot for 124 days before a recent 0-6-2 skid knocked them down to an outside status with hopes of getting back in.

      “That was probably one of our better team games that we’ve played in awhile,” Tortorella said. “It helps to score some goals, too. It takes pressure off our goalie.

      “With two (games) left, it’s good it happened this way as far as a team game. We can lean on that for another couple games and see where it goes.”

      Travis Konecny scored his career-high 32nd goal and also set up Cam York’s key initial goal of the game. Konecny is a pivotal figure when it comes to the Flyers’ confidence level.

      “We had a great meeting with the players and the coaches,” Konecny revealed. “We all knew our objective tonight. It was great. We know we just have to win games now.”

      The Flyers will need the best out of goaltender Samuel Ersson for these last two games. After a dismal performance during a 9-3 shellacking at Montreal, he seemed to bounce back well, allowing only a five-on-three power-play goal by the Rangers.

      “It’s not fun delivering a game like last game (in Montreal), so you want to bounce back,” Ersson said. “It (the 4-1 win) was well-needed.”

      Noah Cates has been coming on strong of late. He and his teammates still believe they have a chance of making the playoffs.

      “I think we just kind of looked in the mirror,” he said of the effort to break the eight-game winless streak. “That last game (in Montreal) was like rock bottom. We just looked in the mirror and wanted a better effort.”

      The puzzling part of the eight-game drought was that a lot of it came against teams out of contention.

      “I think mentally maybe we weren’t there, especially against teams below us in the standings,” Cates said. “We have to take advantage of those teams. I’m glad we stepped up against one of the top teams in the league. It shows where we’re at.”

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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.