Here’s one for Flyers fans looking for omens: The Orange and Black are back in the playoffs courtesy of a shootout. Last year, the Flyers got in the same way and advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Only this time it didn’t take until the regular-season finale. When No. 6 shooter Ville Leino beat Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen to win Saturday’s game, 3-2, the Flyers had matched last year’s feat with 11 games to spare. Of course, that’s never been their primary goal.
“Never once this year have we talked about clinching a playoff spot,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “Our goal has been — and remains — to win the conference, so we can get home ice throughout the playoffs.”
The next 10 days should go a long way to determining that. The Flyers host Alex Ovechkin and Washington tomorrow, the still Sidney Crosby-less Penguins Thursday and the Northeast Division-leading Bruins Sunday.
In the standings, the Flyers hold a two-point lead over the Capitals — with two games in hand — and a six-point advantage over the Penguins in the Atlantic. And a big week could just about wrap up the top seed in the East.