With five wins in their last seven games and at least one point in each of the last seven games, it might seem a little unfair to pick on the Philadelphia Flyers. The club has, for the time being at least, turned its season around and is knocking ever so lightly on re-entering the playoff race.
After a 2-1 loss in overtime to the Montreal Canadians on Tuesday, the Flyers trailed Boston by just eight points for the final wild card spot.
However, it’s fair to argue the Flyers should only be six points behind the Bruins. As well as they have played over the last two weeks, the Flyers still squandered two points during the stretch.
Those points could mean the difference between gearing up for the NHL Draft lottery or the first round of the playoffs in April.
They blew a 2-0 lead in the second period and ended up falling, 3-2, in a shootout to the Islanders last week. Then, the Flyers allowed a goal with eight minutes left in regulation before losing to the Habs.
The Flyers can ill-afford to give away points when leading late in a game, especially if they plan to make a serious playoff push.
“We got a point but maybe in a few months, this is going to be the point that’s missing,” Flyers defenseman Mark Streit said to reporters following the loss in Montreal. “Every game is almost like a playoff game.”
It was the first game of a three-game road trip for the Flyers, who on Friday visit Columbus, were former Flyer Scott Hartnell played in his 1,000thcareer game on Monday, and then head to Buffalo on Sunday.
It was also the first game without the services of starting goalie Steve Mason. The team announced on Tuesday that he will miss 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on Sunday in the second period against the Capitals. Mason had been playing his best hockey of the season prior to the setback, going 3-0-1 with a 1.25 goals against average and .959 save percentage.
Backup Ray Emery, who had been struggling, should see all or most of the time in goal. He made 39 saves on Tuesday and has allowed three goals in the last 90-plus minutes. With Rob Zepp on the IR, Anthony Stolarz was called up from the Phantoms to back up Emery.
“His numbers aren’t where he wants them to be but Ray’s a proven winner,” said head coach Craig Berube before the trip began. “He’s won a lot of games in this league.”