Flyers in prime position to make NHL playoffs

Vincent Lecavalier netted his 400th career goal during a 4-3 loss to the first place Bruins Sunday. Credit: Getty Images
Vincent Lecavalier netted his 400th career goal during a 4-3 loss to the first place Bruins Sunday. Credit: Getty Images

Leave to the Flyers to do things differently. Unlike the proverbial saying about the weather, they came into the month of March like lambs — and left like lions.

And thanks to earning  20 of a possible 28 points during a grueling stretch that included four games against the NHL’s top three teams and six against the 10 best, it will take a virtual April swoon to keep them out of the playoffs.

The way Craig Berube’s team refused to be denied Sunday vs. the current No. 1 Bruins, storming the gates and forcing the action with a season’s high 52 shots before Vinny Lecavalier’s second goal of the day with 25 seconds remaining earned them a valuable point, was typical of this March to remember. Yes, the Bruins eventually prevailed 4-3 in the dreaded shootout — which will happily disappear from the scene once the postseason gets underway. But considering how Boston toyed with them, 6-1 the last time they came to town shows just how far the Flyers have come.

“I think this is a good proving point,” said goalie Steve Mason, who uncharacteristically let in a couple of soft goals, before coming up huge in the third period to keep his team within a goal and set the stage for Lecavalier’s dramatics. “I thought we carried the play for the majority of the game. Right now they’re the number-one team in the league, and the guys were going toe-to-toe with them. It’s a good sign.”

Not to mention a fitting conclusion to a month in which they staked their claim as a team to reckon with come playoff time. Remember the Flyers ended February with a 7-3 home embarrassment vs. San Jose in the first game after the Olympics.

But beginning two days later when they solved longtime nemesis Henrik Lundqvist in a 4-2 win over the Rangers to start the new month, the Flyers became a team on a mission. From there they went 8-3-2, including a weekend sweep of the hated Penguins, coupled with victories over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks and current No. 1 in the West, Blues.

Speaking of St. Louis, that’s where the Flyers will try not to be April fools tonight, followed by a key Metropolitan Division home game vs. the club chasing them in the standings, Columbus, Thursday. After that it’s a Saturday trip to Beantown. In other words, all that March gladness aside, there’s still more work to be done.

“We’ve got some big games coming up and every point is important,” said Lecavalier, reveling in reaching the 400 goal milestone, though No. 401 proved even bigger. “So that one point was important. Now we have to move on and think about our next game.”

Two weeks from today the Flyers fate will be sealed, but unless they completely unravel or the Rangers fade at the same time the Blue Jackets go on a roll, we seemed destined for the matchup predicted here over a month ago: Flyers-Rangers.

What’s at stake, though, is home ice. Factoring in that the Flyers have now dropped eight straight at the Garden — most recently Wednesday’s decisive 3-1 loss — that’s not an insignificant issue.

While the Rangers currently hold a two-point advantage with 88 points with Columbus (82) and Washington (81) also in the mix, the Flyers do have something else going for them: two games in hand.

Of course, to make the most of them they need to win or at least salvage a point they way they did Sunday.

“It’s like playoff hockey,” said Berube, whose 39-27-8 club will play five of its remaining eight games on the road after an 11-4-2 stretch with 13 of those at home. “We need the points so we’re going after it.”

Indeed, they have. But thanks to their successful March, the prospect of the Flyers playing not only April, but into May and even June don’t seem like such a pipedream anymore.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

Local

More than 310,000 attend People's Climate March

More than 310,000 people flooded midtown Manhattan Sunday with one main message ahead of the United Nation’s Climate Summit: do something about climate change. Activists…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.