On Team Picture Day, even the most optimistic Flyer would have to admit the playoff picture is not a pretty sight.
But after back-to-back wins over the Canadiens, followed by the Rangers this week (a game in which new goaltender Steve Mason stopped 38 shots), at least they have started to gain ground. The Flyers are within five points of both the Rangers and Winnipeg for the final spot.
Next comes the Devils, who took the first three head-to-head matchups, before the Flyers edged them 2-1 in a shootout last month. At that time the reigning Eastern Conference champs seemed in solid shape leading the Flyers by seven points in the playoff hunt.
Since then Martin Brodeur & Co. has gone 2-12-4. That’s dropped them all the way down to 12th in the East standings, a point behind the Flyers.
Peter Laviolette’s club recently faced two clubs in the middle of five-game losing streaks — the Jets and Senators — and lost to both of them. So tonight they need more of the kind of solid two-way play that marked their performances in Montreal and against the Rangers.
And it wouldn’t hurt if the Rangers came up with a couple of clunkers in their home-and-home with last-place Florida and vs. New Jersey. Meanwhile, Winnipeg’s schedule is tougher with three of their remaining five games at home. But none of this will matter if the Flyers don’t rack up a bunch of points in their final five games.
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“We can’t be focusing on that,” said Claude Giroux, who had two assists vs. the Rangers. “We have to be focused on what we have to do every game. Of course we’d love to have help from the other teams, but we just have to win.”
The Flyers head to Carolina Saturday before meeting the Bruins and Islanders here next week, then wrapping up in Ottawa next Saturday. By then a lot will have to go right — much of which is out of their control — for the Flyers to still have something to play for.
On Team Picture Day all the Flyers can do is their part — and simply hope everyone else does theirs to give them a chance.
The Flyers rewarded two of their own
The Orange and Black signed Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill to two-year contract extensions. Rinaldo’s deal is worth a reported $1.50 million; Rosehill’s deal is worth a reported $1.35 million.
Rinaldo played in just 32 games this season and logged 85 penalty minutes. Rosehill was acquired April 1 in a trade with Anaheim. The Flyers host the New Jersey Devils Thursday (7:30 p.m.) at the Wells Fargo Center.