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Photo by Bob Fina at InsideHockey.com

The Philadelphia Flyers may have clinched a playoff spot but they still have some work left to do before then, specifically playing better in the third period of games.

The Flyers have been outscored 11-3 and out shot 64-38 by opponents over the last five third periods that the team has played.  They  have managed to pull out two wins in the five game span because they had big leads heading into the final period of the games.

The main reason for the bad third periods have been turnovers.  A Flyers player will turn the puck over either in the  neutral zone or in the defensive zone and then the coverage breaks down from there.  The team gets hemmed in its own zone while the opposing teams are getting shots on goal and scoring chances, which eventually leads to a goal for the other team.

The games that the Flyers have lost were close heading into the final period of play.  On April 3, the Flyers only trailed the Columbus Blue Jackets by one heading into the final frame but came up empty while the Blue Jackets scored a goal.  The Flyers next game in Boston was tied 2-2 after the second period, but the Bruins out shot the Flyers 22-8 and scored three third period goals.  The Flyers last game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning was tied 1-1 after two periods of play and the Lightning came out and scored three more goal against the Flyers in the final period.

The Flyers also seem to come out flat at the start of the third period, and the other team has more jump like in the game against the Florida Panthers on April 8.  The Flyers had the lead 4-0 and the momentum going into the third because they had scored all the goals in the second period, but the Panthers came out looking like the better team.

The Flyers were getting outnumbered in the corners and were getting beat to the puck in the corners.  The forwards weren’t supporting the defensemen so they got stuck in their own zone and eventually paid the price for the sloppy play.  The players are also failing to clear the puck out of the defensive zone when given the opportunity. Opponents then get their forechecking and cycling game going and that has been leading to a goal or the goalie having to make the save.

The Flyers need to clean up the third period mistakes if the team hopes to make a run in the playoffs.  If they make those mistakes against the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, or the New York Rangers then they could be looking at an early exit from the playoffs.

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