We've said it so, so, so many times before in this hellhole of a season, but with the Flyers' 4-1 loss on Tuesday night and with all of the teams ahead of them continuing to find ways to win, it really, truly, actually does seem like this team's chances at the playoffs are just about over. Hell, they've admitted as much.
So now what? You can have a reasonable debate about whether wins in these last few games are in the franchise's best interest right now (and some of you/us have had that debate in the past couple of days) but we're gonna assume that the Flyers -- being a competitive group of professional athletes and all -- are at least gonna keep trying.
Ottawa Senators (19-14-6, 44 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (17-19-3, 37 pts)
7 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: CSN Philly, TVA, Sportsnet East | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Ottawa perspective at Silver Seven
In any event, the last time things truly looked as dark and desperate as they do right now was probably back in mid-March following a loss to the Devils. Here's what Travis wrote in the preview for the following game:
I think I've reached the point -- and we'll all individually hit this stage at different points this season, I'm sure -- where the score at the end of the game isn't the most important thing. I want to see improvement form our young budding core. I want to see reassurance that Kimmo Timonen was worth signing for an extra year. I want to see Claude Giroux bounce back into the player we know he is. I want the small things in each game to give me hope for next season and beyond. Those things can happen regardless of a win or a loss.
With the playoff race almost officially over, everything from that preview applies almost perfectly today. Here are some possible things we can be on the lookout for tonight, regardless of the end result:
* More continued sexiness from the top line like we saw on Tuesday's lone goal.
* Sean Couturier's ice time. As in, we'd like more of it.
* The defense. Guys like Timonen, who didn't play much the other night. Or like poor Luke Schenn, who hopefully can go a game without getting hit in the face with a puck.
* The special teams. At one point -- recently, even -- this power play was the best in the NHL. But they haven't scored a goal in the month of April. Would be nice to figure out what's ailing them.
* Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryz didn't play a single minute on Tuesday night, marking the first time that happened since February 16. Reports from yesterday's practice were that he'd get the start today, so who knows how that'll end up anymore.
Hopefully, he'll be well-rested JUST KIDDING OF COURSE HE IS BECAUSE HE FELL ASLEEP IN A MEETING GET IT GUYS HAHAHAHAHAHA please end me already. But seriously, after all of the crap from yesterday, it's hard not to wonder what he'll do out there on the ice in an actual game.
We can wonder about all of those things, want most if not all of them to go well, and still not really care about the end result. Sounds good to me.
Ottawa, meanwhile, is a playoff team. They're pretty good, despite amassing a number of injuries that even we can relate to. You look at their lineup and kind of wonder how it is they keep winning with how little their team scores (26th in the league in goals per game), but Craig Anderson and their defense (third in the league in goals allowed per game) are there to thank for that.
HOWEVER, apparently backup 'tender Robin Lehner will be starting tonight because in the next few days the Sens play some games against actual good teams and they need to save Anderson for those guys. Congrats, the Flyers. You've become a backup-goalie team.
And they've got Rihanna on their side. Star power, etc.
Questions to Answer:
- Following his
benching for being a LAZY SLEEPING PERSONfirst game off in two months, how's Ilya Bryzgalov look in net?
- Something chippy usually happens when the Flyers and Sens play. Anything go on there?
- Does Sean Couturier's ice time continue to frustrate us?
- On Tuesday the team's top defensemen were Erik Gustafsson and Kent Huskins, rather than Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn. Seriously. Tonight?
- Fans have pretty much raised the white flag now, so what's the crowd like at the WFC?
- Will anyone be seen #Rihannaing?
Puck drop at 7. Gamethread up at 6:15. Lineups and such in there. Silver Seven for the Sens' side. Go Flyers.