The road to clinching a playoff spot won’t be an easy one for the Philadelphia Flyers, who have to play five games in eight days including two sets of back-to-backs.
Philadelphia will play the Pittsburgh Penguins twice, the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders. The Penguins have already clinched a playoff spot while the Maple Leafs have already been officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Flyers, Red Wings and Islanders are still battling to see who gets the wild card spots. The Red Wings are also trying to take over the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Orange and Black will visit Pittsburgh on Sunday, where they played well in recent years. The Penguins have already clinched a playoff spot, but are still battling for playoff positioning and possibly home ice in the first round. Pittsburgh, who are already without forward Evgeni Malkin, will be without goalie Marc-Andre Fleury because of a concussion. The Flyers will need to come out with a strong effort, get in on the fore-check and play a good road game especially in the neutral zone. Philadelphia will need to avoid turnovers because Pittsburgh could use its speed in transition and have odd man rushes.
The Flyers will need to play a very good team defensive game at even strength and avoid taking penalties since the Pens’ power play unit is a dangerous one even without Malkin. The Orange and Black will need to get shots to the net and make sure there is traffic in front of the opposing goalie. Philadelphia will have to be patient since they don’t have the last change and may not get the matchups that they want or change lines on the fly. The Flyers have lost both games that they’ve played against the Penguins this season, and haven’t played well in either. Pittsburgh will visit Philly on Saturday, April 9 for a 3 p.m. start.
Philadelphia will have two days off before facing the Red Wings in Detroit on Wednesday night in a crucial meeting for both teams since this game could determine their playoff fate. The game will be on NBCSN as part of NHL’s Rivalry Night. The Flyers need to play the type of game that they played the last time these two teams met. Philadelphia came out and dominated Detroit in shots in the first period and just gave them no room to do anything in the offensive zone. The Red Wings will get the last change this time since they are at home so that could make a difference. The Orange and Black will need to get pucks through to the net because Detroit hasn’t been the best team defensively lately and they’ll need to crash the net looking for rebounds.
The Maple Leafs visit the Wells Fargo Center on April 7. Toronto has already been eliminated from the postseason, but Mike Babcock has them playing well even thought it’s a young team. Jonathan Bernier, the Maple Leafs’ goalie, has been playing well since the trade of James Reimer. Philadelphia will need to come out and be focused from puck drop and be willing to work for their chances. The Flyers will have to have good puck and player movement on the power play since Toronto has a decent road penalty kill. Philadelphia will need to be careful and avoid the turnovers in the neutral zone and their own zone.
The Flyers will visit the Barclays Center and the New York Islanders on Sunday, April 10. This game is a makeup game that was originally schedule for January 23, but a blizzard forced the game to be postponed and rescheduled. The Islanders are 8-6-2 in 16 games played since March 2, where they have only scored 39 goals and have allowed 48. The Flyers need to play a solid game in front of their goalie and get in on the forecheck. Philadelphia will need to take advantage when on the power play since the Islanders’ power play has only been operating at 75% since March 2. The Orange and Black will need to get the first goal, play physical and play a tight-checking game through the neutral zone.
If the Flyers want to make the post season then they’ll have to continue to play well down the stretch and gain wins and points.