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Only meaningless wins left for Flyers in lost season

Flyers turn attention to last few games, NHL draft

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders Simmonds tallied his first career hat trick Saturday night in Carolina.

The Flyers aren't the only team with nothing to look forward to but the upcoming NHL draft.

Unlike the Eagles and Sixers, though, they still have games to play before calling it a season. As fans around these parts should know, local teams are good at winning so-called "meaningless" games that can do nothing but weaken your draft position.

Officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday night, the Flyers typically responded with one of their better offensive efforts of the season by beating woeful Carolina, 5-3, Saturday behind Wayne Simmonds' first career hat trick. That puts them 20-22-3 on the season with 43 points, eighth worst in the NHL.

If Peter Laviolette's club can get hot enough to win out by beating both the Bruins and Islanders at home, then win in Ottawa Saturday to finish with a winning record, they could conceivably pass as many as four clubs depending on how those teams fare.

The Devils and Sabres (44 apiece) are ahead, with Phoenix (46), Dallas (47) and Detroit (48) all within striking distance.

On the other hand, some combination of Edmonton (41), Calgary (40) and Nashville (40) could climb over them.

Looking ahead to a very stocked draft

The upcoming NHL draft is considered one of the strongest in years.

Defensemen Seth Jones (son of former NBA journeyman Popeye Jones) and Darnell Nurse (Donovan McNabb's nephew) lead the way. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they probably won't be there when they pick.

Not that anyone would dare suggest tanking.

"We have to finish the season,'' said Laviolette, who will likely continue to rotate goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Steve Mason. "We need to play every game and make it count, make it matter."

Even if it seems to matter only to them.

"We didn't even speak about being eliminated from the playoffs," said Wayne Simmonds, whose 15 goals trails only Jake Voracek's career-best 20. "We're trying to build and we want to keep going. We've got a great young core in here and we've got to play strong for each other down the stretch."

Don't be surprised if the lottery-bound Flyers finish strong or win out.

 
 
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