(photo: Garen M.)
The Philadelphia Flyers have eight games left in the regular season and will need to win as many games as they can since they are trying to get into the playoffs. The Flyers are in a battle with the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers will be coming off of a four-game road trip to face the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, March 28. Philadelphia will have to be careful and try not to have a let-down game after coming home from playing four on the road. The Orange and Black will need to stay focused and be engaged right from the opening face off, no matter who gets the start in the crease for them. The Jets will be trying to play the role of spoiler and keep Philadelphia from getting those all important two points. The Flyers will need to take advantage of scoring chances and get traffic in front of the opposing goalie since Winnipeg gives up almost three goals per game.
If the opportunity is available for someone in orange and black to shoot the puck – then they need to get it on net rather than try to make the extra pass. This will be another chance for Philadelphia’s number one power play unit to get rolling since the Jets have only killed off 78.5% of the penalties that they’ve taken this season. The power play unit for the Flyers has really been struggling lately, and in order to have any success down the stretch it is imperative they get it going again. Winnipeg doesn’t have that many come-from-behind wins, especially if they are down after the second period, so the Flyers will need to grab an early lead and keep building on it so they can exploit this weakness in the final frame.
Next up for the Flyers are the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at home. The Capitals have been struggling of late, so the Flyers need to take advantage of the Caps’ recent slump. Washington has already clinched a playoff spot and the Eastern Conference top spot, but they are still trying to clinch the President’s Trophy awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the season. The Flyers will need to come out with energy and establish their fore-checking game early. Philadelphia will also need to play a smart team game defensively and avoid the turnovers, because Washington has four lines that can score.
The Flyers will also need to stay out of the penalty box, limiting the Capitals power play units and time with the man advantage; shoot the puck whenever there is an open lane, not make the extra pass; and get as much traffic as they can in front of the opposing goalie.
The Ottawa Senators, another team playing in spoiler mode, will come to Philadelphia on Saturday for a matinée game. The Flyers will need to watch out for the Senators speed and refuse to let this become another “trap” game. The Orange and Black will need to get the puck to the net since the Senators do allow almost three goals against per game. This will be another chance for the first power play unit of Philadelphia to get going again, since Ottawa only kills off 75.5% of the penalties that they’ve taken this season. The Flyers will need to avoid costly turnovers and mistakes in their own end and the neutral zone, because the speed of the Senators players can turn the transition opportunities into dangerous odd man rushes.
If the Flyers want to keep pace with everyone else in the playoff race, then they’ll need to buckle down and play well against the teams that are below them in the standings.