Philly Phaithful
Better With Popcorn

Link Checks 4/6/2012

It’s official!

With the Flyers 2-1 win over the Sabres last night (TCL Flyers), the Flyers are locked into the fifth seed and will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Crimespree Hockey).  Bryzgalov played a solid game and he gives the Flyers hope heading into the playoffs (CSNPhilly).  The season isn’t over yet, though, as they still have one regular season game left to play and that’s in Pittsburgh.  

Although the game is meaningless (The Hockey Guys), the Flyers haven’t lost in the Penguins home arena yet, and they don’t want to give them confidence that they can beat the Flyers at home (TCL Flyers).  Saturday’s contest will be all about setting the tone for the playoffs (Orange and Black Pack).

The playoff matchup has the potential to be the most intense one this season.  Right now, it’s not only players going at it on the ice but coaches and broadcasters are taking jabs at each other too.  After last night, when Pens’ defenseman Brooks Orpik connected on a knee-on-knee hit on Derek Stepan, everyone seems to hate the Penguins (TCL Flyers).  If the Flyers plan on winning Lord Stanley’s Cup, the Penguins may be their biggest obstacle to climb over (Flyers Faithful).

If Nicklas Grossmann can return in time for the playoffs it will be a huge help.  Even though he was wearing two knee braces at the practice facility yesterday morning (CSNPhilly), it is likely he will in fact come back (Hockey Buzz).  Briere is still listed as day-to-day, but GM Paul Holmgren still hasn’t given a timeline for his return (Mark Masters).  While they’re both likely to be back soon, defenseman Andrej Meszaros and forward James van Riemsdyk seem to be farther away (TCL Flyers).

All the injuries just means stars like Giroux and Hartnell will have to keep playing to their full capability.  Both of them received team awards in last night’s pre-game ceremony (Flyers Faithful).  Giroux was the winner of the Toyota Cup and was named team MVP (Daily News), while Hartnell was the winner of the “Pelle Lindbergh Award” for most improved.  The winner of the Gene Hart Trophy, given to the player who plays with the most ‘heart’ out on the ice, was neither Giroux nor Hartnell.  Deservingly, it was granted to Wayne Simmonds (Philly.com).

Capitals and Panthers fans can breathe easy, knowing they’re now locked into the playoffs:

    DIV GP P W L OTL
1. Z - NY Rangers ATL 81 109 51 23 7
2. Y - Boston NE 81 100 48 29 4
3. X* - Florida SE 81 92 37 26 18
4. X - Pittsburgh ATL 81 106 50 25 6
5. X - Philadelphia ATL 81 103 47 25 9
6. X - New Jersey ATL 81 100 47 28 6
7. X - Ottawa NE 81 92 41 30 10
8. X - Washington SE 81 90 41 32 8

* - Division Leader......X - Clinched Playoff Spot.......Y - Clinched Division.......Z - Clinched Conference

Buffalo’s loss ensured both the Caps and Panthers a spot in the playoffs.  Now it’s a contest to see who will take third place rather than eighth place.  If the Capitals beat the Rangers on Saturday (NHL.com) and the Panthers lose in regulation to the Hurricanes (NHL.com), the Capitals will be the Southeast Division champions.  Whether they’re in eighth or third, Panthers fans are pumped for the playoffs (Crimespree Hockey).

The only other move that could take place is the Senators moving down to eighth and the Capitals moving to seventh.  The Sens need just one point vs the Devils (NHL.com) to hold on to their seed.  They would then face the Bruins, who will be hosting the Sabres come Saturday afternoon (NHL.com).

There isn’t any favorite to win the Cup this year, and it’s going to make for an exciting postseason for every hockey fan (RLD Hockey).

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Jagr