Flyers Look for Berth in Dallas
With just 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers are facing an ideal situation; Win, and they’re in.
On Saturday night, the Flyers will take their first shot at wrapping up a playoff berth in Dallas against the Stars. After falling to the Thrashers in a shootout on Thursday night, the team will look to end their three-game road stretch on a high note before coming home to host some of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. Next week, the Flyers will take the ice at Wells Fargo Center against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Dallas is coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season on Thursday night, a 5-0 humiliation of the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite the solid triumph over Chicago, the team had dropped their two previous decisions to Los Angeles and San Jose. In those losses, the team gave up 4.5 goals per game.
One weakness that the Stars have displayed this season is their penalty killing. They are ranked 24th in the league in terms of the man disadvantage. If the Flyers can dictate the pace of the game and maintain pressure on the Stars, a power play opportunity early in the game could help the team immensely.
Recently, the Flyers’ problems seem to revolve around the common denominator of not giving a full effort for 60 minutes. That problem once again bit the Flyers in Atlanta on Thursday, when they played one period of solid hockey in their shootout loss. With the playoffs nearing, it’s vital for the team to figure out some way to remedy the problem. A strong game against Dallas would be welcomed, especially with the hopes of carrying momentum into next week’s tough matchups.
With Chris Pronger out until the playoffs start, it’s essential that Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle play well in extended ice time. On the offensive side of the puck, Kris Versteeg has been invisible as of late for the team. His contributions would go a long way in helping the Flyers down the stretch.
For the Flyers to clinch a playoff spot Saturday, they’ll not only have to perform well but also consistently. If the team can put a very talented team in Dallas on their heels early on, they may be able to take advantage of the Stars penalty killing weaknesses. In order to do that, they’ll have to keep their legs moving throughout the game. Extended puck possession figures to be another key in the Flyers’ game plan. One-and-done possessions with no support on the back end has gotten the team out of sorts at times this season, and they’ll have to avoid them if they hope to notch two points and a playoff berth Saturday.