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Flyers: In Case You Missed It (Week Ending 3/19)

Welcome to this week’s edition of Flyers: In Case You Missed It. In this column, we’ll briefly recap the Flyers games from the past week, as well as report on any current team news.

Photo Credit: AP Photo

Tuesday, March 15th – Flyers 3, Panthers 2
After a gut-wrenching loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, the Flyers were looking to bounce back in their game against Florida, and did so with a win over the Panthers. Scott Hartnell got the all-important first goal of the game for the Flyers, scoring just about five minutes into the first period. Jeff Carter scored the additional two goals in the second period. Brian Boucher was solid in net, making 20 out of 22 saves and keeping the Panthers at bay after giving up two goals in the first. The Flyers looked better than they had the previous few games (and definitely better than they had against the Thrashers on Saturday), but still seemed to be lacking the spark and determination that had defined them for the last few months. The win was a confidence booster, surely, but the team still had to focus on getting their overall play back on track.

Thursday, March 17th – Thrashers 4, Flyers 3 (SO)
Less than a week after the Thrashers beat the Flyers in overtime, the two teams faced off again, with the Flyers attempting to seek some revenge. Both teams played hard, and the Flyers were determined throughout the entire game, but their efforts ultimately fell short in a shootout. Claude Giroux and Danny Briere were responsible for the three Flyers goals in this game; Briere scored once in the second period and once in the third, tying the game at 3-all with 1:27 left to go in regulation. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros took a shot off of his knee in the third and looked to be in discomfort as he went off the ice, but he returned relatively quickly to finish off the game. The Flyers got one point even though they took the loss, but would have surely benefitted from two points if they’d gotten the win – both in the standings and for their confidence.

Saturday, March 19th – Flyers 3, Stars 2 (SO)
The Flyers entered Saturday night’s game against the Stars two points away from clinching a playoff spot, and came out victorious. For the second game in a row, 60 minutes weren’t enough, and neither were 65. Ville Leino scored the game-winning goal in the 6th round of the shootout for the Flyers, with the additional shootout goal coming from Claude Giroux. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter scored in regulation for the Flyers, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves in net. He was absolutely phenomenal, coming up with some huge saves. The Flyers held onto a 2-0 lead until 12:44 into the second period, and the Stars tied it up with a little over five minutes left in the third. Aside from those two goals and Mike Ribeiro’s in the shootout, Bobrovsky held the Stars at bay. With this win, the Flyers became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff spot. Now, their focus is on clinching the division and home ice advantage once the playoffs begin.

Team News
• As mentioned earlier, the Flyers clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. They currently have 96 points, 7 below league-leading Vancouver (who clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night). Their magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division is 8.

• Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken bone in his right hand. Pronger sustained the injury in the February 24th game against the New York Islanders. Pronger told the media that his surgery went well, and GM Paul Holmgren said that he expected Pronger to miss between 3-4 weeks while he recovers. With about three weeks left in the season, Pronger is most likely not going to be back before the playoffs, but should be good to go once they are underway.

• Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who was called up on Wednesday to help the team while Pronger is out, was loaned back to the Adirondack Phantoms earlier today, according to Paul Holmgren. He played a total of 16:46 in two games this week.

Saturday’s win over Dallas was a huge one for the team, but they are not satisfied with just clinching a playoff spot – they are determined to clinch the Atlantic Division and get home ice advantage during the playoffs. They have a tough schedule ahead of them during these last few weeks, with games against the surging Washington Capitals (Tuesday), Pittsburgh Penguins (Thursday), and New York Islanders (Saturday) just this week. Both the Capitals and Pittsburgh are in playoff contention, and even though the Islanders are nowhere near, they have still proven to be a tough team as of late. It won’t be easy for the Flyers to clinch the Atlantic, with their magic number at 8 and only 11 games left. They have the talent, the depth, and the strength to clinch – we just have to hope that they can find their chemistry, maintain it, and get the job done.