On the Presidents' Trophy, the stretch run and Flyers' injuries

RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 29: Danny Briere #48 of the Philadelphia Flyers is introduced during the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center on January 29 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

So, the Flyers aren't really in the playoff race right now. I mean that in a good way, though. It'd take a pretty ridiculous fall from grace for the team to fall from the top of the Eastern Conference, so far that they'd miss the postseason entirely. 

But that doesn't mean we can just sit back and relax as we prepare for the playoffs. I mean, it is only February. Let's prepare for the stretch run with a few questions, shall we? 

For starters, do we want the Flyers to win the Presidents' Trophy? It's not exactly a curse to win the thing -- three teams have won both in the last 10 years, but three teams have also won the Presidents' Trophy before losing in the first round. At the same time, it guarantees home-ice edge throughout the playoffs, and as we learned last year, the Flyers could have used home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final.

So do we want to win the thing? Can we get over the perception that it's a jinx (and the jokes about the Capitals) and actually hope that the Flyers can win the Presidents' Trophy?

The other major question: Can the Flyers get through the stretch without a serious injury? History would say that no, they can't, and as Geoff Detweiler said over at SB Nation Philly in one of his typical splash-of-water-in-the-face stories, it's a major reason for why they're been so successful.

In all, it seems that the Flyers depth and ability to stay healthy are driving their success. Without players like Andreas Nodl and Darroll Powe to step up and play defensively responsible minutes in the top-9, the Flyers probably don't have the luxury of keeping Briere's line away from their own end. Without Jeff Carter embracing the role of elite two-way center and meshing well with Claude Giroux, the Flyers are also unlikely to have that luxury.

So long story short, the Flyers can't really afford an injury to the top-6. Let's hope it doesn't happen. 

Game thread will be up at 5 p.m for tonight's game vs. Tampa. Sergei Bobrovsky is in net while Jody Shelley will sit out thanks to the flu. 

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