If panic hadn’t set in yet, it definitely has now. In a week they had four games to help better their chances of winning both the division and the conference, the Flyers lost every game managing to only gain one point all week long. Adding on to the recent worries about playing lazy and horrible lately, the talent of the teams who beat Philly this week should also cause the Flyers to panic.
Playing three teams out of the playoff race, the Flyers dropped their games with Atlanta, New Jersey, and Ottawa in regulation. They were able to salvage a point against the Rangers on Sunday.
The horrendous results of the week allowed the Capitals to take the lead in the conference. As both teams only have two games remaining, the schedule seems to favor Washington as they have a home and home against the Florida Panthers. The Flyers play the Sabres and Islanders.
Not only has this four game losing streak cost the Flyers the lead in the conference, it could cost them the Atlantic division. Having two games remaining as well, the Penguins have come to within a point of the Flyers in the standings. With games against the Islanders and Thrashers, the Penguins need to end the year with more points than Philly to win the division as the Flyers hold the tie-breaker over Pittsburgh with more regulation/overtime wins (PHI 43, PIT 38).
In what may be his best performance all year long, Chris Mason stoned the Flyers for a 43-save shutout on Thursday night’s 1-0 Atlanta win. All the Thrashers needed was a puck to go off of Nik Antropov’s skate and in for the win in Philly as Mason had his second highest save total on the season (11/3-52).
The next day, the Flyers came out with yet another lackluster performance and lost to the Devils 4-2 in New Jersey. Powered by a Patrik Elias hat-trick, the Devils handed the Flyers their second straight loss. Similar to Antropov’s goal a day earlier, Nick Palmieri had his game-winning goal find the back of the net after hitting his skate in front.
On Sunday, the Flyers came out swinging early, both figuratively and literally. Sean O’Donnell fought Brandon Prust 45 seconds into the game in an attempt to wake up the evidently sleeping Flyers. The fight provided some energy as the Flyers gained the 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a James van Riemsdyk tally, but Philly ultimately lost 3-2 in a shootout. Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski made the Rangers 2-for-2 in their shootout attempts against Sergei Bobrovsky.
Looking to end their three-game losing streak, the Flyers headed to Ottawa to take on the Senators. Late in the second period, the Flyers turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit as Ryan Shannon and Bobby Butler scored goals 1:04 apart. As the remaining 14 seconds ticked away in the second after Butler’s goal, the Flyers gave up two more in the third as the Sens scored four unanswered goals to beat Philly 5-2. The loss was the Flyers’ fourth in a row and fifth in their last six games.
Despite the lack of team success, several Flyers had impressive solo performances this week. Claude Giroux had four assists on the week, including a two-assist game against the Rangers on Sunday.
Not dressing over a 12-game span, Nikolay Zherdev made some noise since returning to the lineup Thursday against the Devils. After assisting on Jeff Carter’s game-tying goal on Thursday, Zherdev had a game-tying goal of his own against the Rangers on Sunday to tie the game at two. With an assist on Mike Richards’ second power-play goal on the night, Zherdev got a point in three straight games for the first time since 12/14-12/18 (4G,1A).
If the Flyers want any type of chance to win the conference, they need to focus on their two remaining games. After a trip to Buffalo on Friday, the Flyers end the season hosting the Isles on Saturday.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. A one-goal loss to the team they will most likely open the playoffs against was the Pens only mistake this week as they beat both the Panthers and Devils 4-2.
After giving up two goals in the opening 10:13, the Penguins couldn’t tie the game at two despite a third period tally from Michael Rupp. Out shooting the Lightning 31-16 in the final two periods, the Pens suffered a painful loss despite out playing the opposition.
The Penguins took out their frustration from their prior game by beating another team from the Southeast division. Trailing 2-1 after the first period, an early second period goal from Pascal Dupuis tied the game and a third period goal from Zybnek Michalek gave the Pens the lead. An empty-netter from Craig Adams was the icing on the cake as Pittsburgh walked into Florida and won 4-2.
Returning home for their match up with division rival New Jersey, the Penguins saw the division lead within reach. Heading into the final 20 minutes with a 2-1 lead, a Chris Kunitz goal gave the Pens an insurmountable lead of 3-1 as Pittsburgh went on to win 4-2.
Dupuis had three goals on the week for a Penguins team fighting for better positioning in the playoffs. Scoring the game-tying goal against the Panthers on Saturday, Dupuis had a pair of goals against the Devils last night (one of which was a shorthanded goal with just over a minute to play).
Jordan Staal also had a huge week for the Penguins. Although he did score a power-play goal and assisted on Kunitz’s game-winning goal against the Devils, Staal’s big performance on the week came agaisnt the Panthers where he assisted on three of the Pens’ four goals.
Giving themselves a chance to win the division, the Penguins carry a two-game winning streak into their final two games of the season. A visit to Long Island on Friday to take on the Islanders is followed up by a visit to Atlanta on Sunday. Victories in both games might be enough for Pittsburgh to steal the Atlantic title from the Flyers.
New York Rangers: 2-2-0. Looking to make the playoffs, the Rangers came out of the week with two big wins against the Flyers and Bruins.
The week didn’t start off well for the Rangers as they were shut out by Jhonas Enroth and the Sabres 1-0 and destroyed by the Islanders 6-2 in back-to-back nights.
However, the Rangers turned things around later in the week starting with their nationally televised matinee game against the Flyers. With Henrik Lundqvist making both saves as both Rangers’ skaters scored goals in the shootout, New York grabbed a crucial two points in their hunt for the playoffs.
Playing Boston the next day, the Rangers found themselves losing 3-0 halfway through the game. Thanks to back-to-back goals from Vinny Prospal and two goals in a span of 51 seconds late in the third period the Rangers went on to win the game 5-3.
In addition to his two-goal performance against the Bruins, Prospal also had a goal against the Islanders. In what might be his most important point of the week, Prospal had an assist on Ruslan Fedotenko’s second period goal against the Flyers on Sunday.
With only two home games making up the remainder of their schedule, the Rangers have a strong likelihood to make the playoffs. Wins against the Thrashers on Thursday and Devils on Saturday would assure the Rangers of a playoff berth.
New Jersey Devils: 2-2-0. Starting off the week strong with home wins against the Islanders and Flyers, the Devils slipped up later on as they lost a pair of two-goal games to the Canadiens and Penguins.
After blowing a two-goal lead in a 4:06 span in the third period, an Andy Greene goal with 4:56 left in regulation gave the Devils a 3-2 win against the Islanders last Wednesday. Opportunistic is a nice way of putting Greene’s goal in the third period as his team was out shot 14-3 in the last 20 minutes of Wednesday’s game.
Two days later, Elias found a way to beat Bobrovsky three times to net a hat-trick on the way to a 4-2 Devils’ win. Despite scoring three of his teams four goals, Elias watched Palmieri score the game-winning goal despite never having the puck actually hit his stick.
The Devils’ winning ways didn’t last long as they fell to the Canadiens the next day 3-1. A first period goal from Mathieu Darche in addition to two Montreal goals in the first 3:34 of the third period put the Devils in a three-goal hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of on Saturday.
Finishing off their week with a game last night against the Pens, New Jersey lost their second straight game by a score of 4-2. The Devils’ power-play hurt them a lot last night as they went 0-for-2 and gave a shorthanded goal to Dupuis in the final minutes of regulation.
Elias had the best week of anybody in a Devils’ uniform as he scored four goals and assisted on two other goals. Registering a point in each game this week, Elias’s week was highlighted with his hat-trick against the Flyers on Friday. His other goal on the week came in New Jersey’s loss to Montreal on Saturday. Elias assisted on Greene’s game-winning goal last Wednesday.
Palmieri also had a strong week for the Devils as he had a game-winning goal and three assists. Opening the week with a two-assist night against the Islanders, Palmieri scored the game-winning goal against Philly on Friday and had an assist in last night’s loss to Pittsburgh.
Although it doesn’t really matter since they can’t make the playoffs, the Devils’ remaining games are against two tough opponents. A visit to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to play the Rangers is followed by a game against Boston the next day at home.
New York Islanders: 1-2-0. With three games in four nights, the Islanders found a way to massacre the Rangers in between close losses to the Devils and Hurricanes.
Despite out playing the Devils in the final twenty minutes on Wednesday, the Islanders found themselves without any points at the end of the night as they fell to New Jersey 3-2.
Apparently, all the Islanders needed was a trip back home as they demolished the Rangers 6-2 on Thursday night. A four-goal second period helped the Islanders destroy the Rangers as the score looked closer than it should have as Brandon Dubinsky scored a goal with 14 seconds left.
Heading into the final period against the Hurricanes on Saturday with a 2-1 lead, the Islanders watched Carolina score three goals in the third as they went onto win 4-2. Both Eric Staal and Joe Corvo had a goal and an assist in the Hurricanes’ win in Long Island on Saturday.
Although his team lost last Wednesday, Frans Nielsen gave his team a shot with two goals in a 4:06 span in the third period. One of Nielsen’s goals in the third was a shorthanded tally.
Not usually noticed for points, Dylan Reese had four points this week for New York. Assisting on three goals in the Islanders’ monster victory against the Rangers on Thursday, Reese had the secondary assist on John Tavares’s second period goal against the Hurricanes. Coming into this week, Reese had one assist in 21 games before registering three in three games this week.
Being the only team with three games remaining in their schedule, the Isles finish off their season with three teams in the playoffs. In addition to visiting Boston tonight, the Islanders play the Penguins on Friday and the Flyers on Saturday.