Just like last season, the Flyers clinched a playoff spot in a dramatic shootout win late in the season, but this year they did before the final game of the regular season. Even with the recent struggles, they still have the most points in the eastern conference with 96 and were the first in the east to clinch a spot in the playoffs. The regular season will likely end with a lot less drama and I’m sure it will be easier on the hearts of the Philly Phaithful. This is the kind of regular that most fans and analyst thought the team was capable of last season.
The seemingly smooth ride and consistent play of came to an abrupt end during the last few weeks. Over their last 10 games, they have just 4 wins and 10 points. They lost four in row at the start of the month and it all came to a peak at the hands of the Rangers when they lost 7-0. Since that game they have started to steer the ship in the right direction collecting 10 of a possible 12 points over the last 6 games. Despite the better results, the team is still not playing as well of they would like. They have been giving up multi goal leads late in games and that is something that the team cannot do in the post season.
Last night’s game seemed to the follow the trend they were setting but they were able to pull it out during the shootout. Jeff Carter broke a scoreless tie late in the 1st period with his 33rd goal of the season. They were able to control the play during the 1st period outshooting the Stars 9-4. At the start of the 2nd period, it seemed as though the team would cruise to a victory after a goal by the Captain Mike Richards just 1:17 into the 2nd period. They had all the momentum but the Stars didn’t go away quietly. The Stars amped up their offensive attack out shooting the Flyers 13-10 during the 2nd. They were able to get on the board with a little over 7 minutes left to play in the period with a goal by Alex Goligoski. The Stars were able to continue their momentum outshooting the Flyers again in the 3rd, this time just 10-9. Then with about 5 and a half minutes left to play the Stars tied the game with a goal by Stephane Robidas.
The overtime went scoreless with the Flyers having a number of chances late in the period. It went to a shootout and Bob came up huge with a number of saves. Giroux got the 1st goal of the shootout on the 2nd chance for the Flyers but the Stars responded right back with a goal to keep their hopes alive. It went back and forth with Bob making the save and multiple Flyers having chances to win the game. The game was ended on the stick of the Flyers 6th shooter Ville Leino as he put the goalie into a fish like flop and easily guided the puck in the back of the net.
With regulation wins during their next two games, the Flyers could all but lockup the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. On Tuesday the 2nd seed Washington Capitals come to the Wells Fargo Center for the team’s final matchup of the season. The Capitals will go into the game with a chance to tie the Flyers in points but they have played two more games than the Flyers. A win would put the Flyers up 4 points with the Caps only having 8 games to play. Two days later the hated Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. The Penguins have somehow been able to stay in the race despite not having their two best players Crosby and Malkin for a good part of the season. Currently Pittsburgh is 6 points behind the Flyers and have played one more game.
The ending to last year’s season was very dramatic and exciting but it’s a lot less stressful to clinch a spot with 11 games to play. It has been an excellent regular season so far but that means little when you get into the playoffs. Last season the Flyers were the 7th seed in the East and were able represent the conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. Wins over the next two games will go a long way in easing the fear of Flyers fans.