Better With Popcorn

Everything Is Clicking for the Flyers Going Down the Stretch

It’s hard to believe that there are only 16 games left in the regular season.

This is the point where those on the cusp decide their fate, and those locked in begin to look ahead to the postseason.

The Philadelphia Flyers (38-21-7) currently sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference and will most likely be heading to the playoffs.

Despite a drastically different roster than last season’s and countless injuries throughout the lineup, the team has been in the mix since the start of the season.

There have been struggles, of course. Goalie issues, line-juggling, and a lack of jump and consistency have all caused problems for the team.

However, it’s what the team has done in the face of adversity that has really proven their character, and the Flyers have displayed that despite the many obstacles in their way, they can stand tall and come out on top.

Their last four games have been proof enough of that.

The Flyers have won four in a row, outscoring opponents 12-5 in that span.

Ilya Bryzgalov has recorded two shutouts in his last three starts, and his performances in net have been improving with each game.

Key pieces of the lineup are currently out with injuries – James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek for the forwards and Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Mezsaros for the defense – but others have stepped up in a big way in their absence.

Even the rookies, who had been struggling as of late, have started to return to their early season productivity levels; three of the five Flyers goals on Thursday night were scored by rookies.

The team will need those contributions in the coming weeks, especially going into this weekend.

The Flyers play back-to-back road games over the next two days, starting with a matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Leafs will be looking for their first win of the season against the orange and black after losing the first two games of the four-game season series.

After surprising everyone by getting off to such a terrific start to the season, the Leafs (30-30-7) have been struggling as of late. They’ve dropped eight of their last ten, and their playoff hopes are all but lost.

When the team announced that Joffrey Lupul, who had been an offensive powerhouse, was expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury, it was likely the final nail in the coffin for their playoff dreams.

 Lupul and linemate Phil Kessel combined for 138 points through 67 games, and were credited as main components to the team’s success. But that success has faded, and the loss of Lupul will no doubt be a detriment.

It’ll be either James Reimer (11-11-4) or Jonas Gustavsson (17-15-2) in net for Toronto. Neither goaltender has played well as of late, with Riemer losing his last four in a row, and Gustavsson only recording one win in his last four.

The Flyers will be facing a depleted and dejected team on Saturday, but they cannot take it lightly. Each game from here on out – no matter the opponent – matters.

It was around this time last season where the Flyers became complacent, and they cannot allow that to happen again this year.

The team needs to keep bringing the tenacity and grit that has gotten them to this point and will lead them into the playoffs.