Flyers return home to face Rangers

They’re virtually all must-win games for the Flyers, a team coming off a solid effort in Pittsburgh on Sunday which only earned them a point in a 2-1 overtime loss. Now, they prep for the Rangers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. New York holds a five-point lead on them for the East’s final playoff spot. In other words, this could be as must as it gets.

The numbers are telling, as the season winds into its final third. The Flyers (13th in the conference with 28 points) aren’t only chasing Toronto (37), the Devils (36) and Rangers (33) for the final three spots, but they also have to jump over Carolina (32), the Caps and Islanders (31 apiece), and Buffalo (30) just to get in position.

They are probably better off, psychologically at least, not doing the math.

Especially if they can’t start out by gaining some ground on the Rangers. Peter Laviolette’s team has gone only 1-9-1 vs. Henrik Lunqvist & Co. in the past two seasons. That lone win was a 2-1 squeaker here Jan. 29.

But having reached the desperation stage, they can’t allow that negative history to play on their minds, opening up a crucial five-game homestand that includes the Islanders, Bruins, Caps and Canadiens. Knowing they’ll play 10 of their remaining 17 at home is a bit of a comfort, considering their sorry 4-12-1 road mark.

But it won’t matter if the Flyers don’t start piling up the points soon. And they’ll have to do it without Danny Briere, who is out indefinitely with a concussion, while defenseman Niklas Grossmann (upper body injury) is questionable.

No matter who plays, though, the goal won’t change.

“When you look at the standings, everything is still possible,” said defenseman Kimmo Timonen, “but the bottom line is we’ve got to start winning.”

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers
With Briere out indefinitely (concussion), the Flyers recalled Tye McGinn from Adirondack.

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