Nothing's Stopping the Flyers Now
Right now, there is no stopping the Philadelphia Flyers.
Despite injuries to a number of key players – four veteran defensemen included – they’ve managed to play extremely well over these last few weeks.
They’re currently riding a 5-game win streak, and have outscored their opponents 15-5 in that span.
Credit can be given all throughout the lineup, but no one deserves it more than Ilya Bryzgalov.
He has made 11 straight starts and has recorded a shutout in three of his last four games. In that stretch, he’s gone 8-2 (with one no-decision) and has a goals-against average of 2.13.
The rest of the team has followed Bryz in tightening up and playing much more consistently. Even with a depleted defensive core, the team has only allowed five goals in these last five games.
Momentum is on their side and it will need to be carried over into Sunday, when the Flyers (39-21-7) begin a home-and-home series against the New Jersey Devils (39-24-5).
The teams have faced each other four times so far this season, and the series is split at two games apiece.
A big win coming in the final seconds of a game against the New York Islanders on Saturday made it three straight wins for the Devils.
The Flyers do have a dilemma heading into Sunday’s game.
Do they start Bryzgalov, who is on a hot streak, or do they rest him and instead give the start to Sergei Bobrovsky?
Bryzgalov has a 3-1-0 record in five games against the Devils in his career, and has two wins against them this season.
Bobrovsky hasn’t started since February 12. His last appearance was against the Penguins on February 18, when he gave up three goals after coming in to replace Bryzgalov.
Prior to being benched, he’d lost four of his last five games, and his GAA in that span was 5.53.
With the playoffs coming up, Bryzgalov needs rest, and Sunday might just be the day he gets it.
Johan Hedberg has started in back-to-back games for the Devils, credited with a win in both. It’ll be either Hedberg or Martin Brodeur in net on Sunday.
Hedberg has a 2-0 record against Philadelphia this season, while Brodeur has gone 0-2 in both starts versus the Flyers.
With both teams on hot streaks, Sunday’s is anybody’s game.
As with almost all games at this point in the season, this one has playoff implications.
The Devils are only one point behind the Flyers in the standings, and a win on Sunday would move them into the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference.
Alternatively, if the Flyers win on Sunday, they could potentially be tied in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins (so long as the Penguins lose to the Bruins Sunday afternoon).
With the conference standings so close, this home-and-home series is an important one for the Flyers, and they need to get as many points out of it as possible.