As Playoffs Approach, An Important Weekend Looms for Flyers
First comes a playoff spot and then comes the top spot in the division.
It’s a stretch, but that’s what the Philadelphia Flyers (45-24-8) will keep working towards as they face the Ottawa Senators (39-28-10) on Saturday afternoon.
After a 7-1 beatdown of the despondent Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, the Flyers will look to make it two wins in a row against Ottawa. The Senators will aim to continue a streak of their own, as they’ve won two straight.
In the three games between the two teams this season, the Flyers have won twice. The Senators won the last meeting, 6-4 back on January 8.
The stakes are high for both teams. Even though the Flyers are headed for their fifth postseason in a row, they still have something to work for.
There are five games left in the season, including Saturday’s matchup, which means there are 10 points the Flyers can earn. They’re four points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place, and nine behind the New York Rangers for first.
The Senators are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and are trying to hold off the Buffalo Sabres, who have won five of their last six games and are just two points behind Ottawa in the standings.
Pittsburgh and Buffalo faced off on Friday night in a game that had implications for both the Flyers and Senators. The Penguins got the win, cushioning their lead in the division over the Flyers and giving the Senators another day to maintain their lead over the Sabres.
Flyers starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov missed Thursday night’s game with a chip fracture in his right foot. He practiced on Friday, but his status is still day-to-day.
Per GM Paul Holmgren, he is doubtful for this weekend’s games, but is feeling better.
Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in Bryzgalov’s absence. He started in his place against the Leafs on Thursday, allowing one goal on seventeen shots.
The playoffs are a couple of weeks away, but one Flyer has already started performing like he’s there – Mr. Playoffs himself, Danny Briere.
Briere has tallied seven points in his last four games, with four coming on Thursday night against the Leafs.
For the last four games, he’s been on a line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds and that line has recorded 14 points in that time – nine of which came against Toronto.
Those guys have been stepping up in a big way and at just the right time. If the Flyers can carry momentum into this weekend, they can gain ground in the standings.
They’ll face the Penguins on Sunday which – granted they win on Saturday – will present them with the opportunity to tie them for second place in the division.
With only five games left and the Rangers practically uncatchable at this point, it is indeed a stretch for the Flyers to clinch the division. However, there is still plenty to work for, including home is advantage and higher seeding, and the Flyers seem more than up to the challenge.