If the Flyers miss the playoffs by one point, or miss home ice advantage by the slimmest of margins, look at Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Devils as a possible reason why.
It wasn’t entirely the Flyers fault though.
They may have lost the game 2-1 and missed out on six power play opportunities, but with under a minute left, a “no goal,” that looked like it would send the game to overtime and award the Flyers a point in the standings was as grey as a call can be in professional sports.
“It’s frustrating,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after the loss. “We worked real hard to try and get that tying goal and it was a nice play by Kimmo [Timonen] to get it over to Jake [Voracek] and Jake gave a nice pass to [Scott Hartnell]. It’s frustrating.”
When replays were shown at the Wells Fargo Center over the jumbotron, there was no question the puck crossed the plane, into the goal. But with Hartnell’s body hitting goalie Martin Brodeur’s seemingly at the exact same time, the play on the ice was deemed not reviewable.
“When the buzzer went off I was 100 percent sure it was going to be a goal,” an angry Voracek said. “The playoffs are on the line, we have 15 games left.”
If the postseason started today, the Flyers would barely make the cut in the second wildcard spot and No. 8 seed.
Just days ago, the Flyers were second in the Metropolitan Division and in the No. 4 spot.
But the conference is jam-packed, the Flyers’ 73 points equalling the total of Columbus and just one less than the Rangers. They also lead the Devils by just two points.
Things are tight. And with two straight games against the Penguins on the docket, there isn’t much room for error.
“What if, what ifs, a lot of what ifs,” Hartnell said.
With every game increasing in importance by a magnitude as the stretch run gets more intense, Philadelphia will not face a team outside of the playoff picture until they play Buffalo on April 6, 12 games from now.
Oh yeah, they also face teams in first place in one of the four divisions seven times in 17 games (Pittsburgh, St; Louis and Boston).
They have a few days off now, but after they host the Penguins Saturday (the front half of a home-and-home that wraps up in Pittsburgh Sunday), the Flyers have five games in eight days.