Today's matinee will be the last game the Flyers play before the Olympic break and, by all estimations, it looks like it will be a great way to say goodbye to NHL hockey for a while.
Here's a hot take for you: the Calgary Flames are not very good. But just how bad are they? Well, they're 27th in the league right now, ahead of the Panthers, the Oilers, and the Sabres. That's not exactly great company.
They're bad at scoring goals, they're bad at preventing goals, and they're bad at converting on the power-play. These are usually pretty important things, or so I've been told. That isn't to say that they're without strong suits, of course: they're marginally better on the penalty kill (only 22nd in the league!), they've got Jiri Hudler and Mikael Backlund, and they can sure as hell win in overtime. Of their last seven wins, only four were in regulation. Plus, they've won six of their last seven. Even so, they're still 12 points out of playoff contention with much better teams sitting between them and a wild card spot.
Bottom line is that Calgary isn't making playoffs unless something magical happens, a miracle the magnitude of say, Anaheim and San Jose literally falling off the face of the planet. The Flames are basically playing for pride, while also looking forward to the draft and probably a top four pick.
The Flyers, on the other hand, are definitely playing for playoffs. As every day passes, the Metropolitan division becomes more muddled as the bad guys continue to win--or at the very least, lose in overtime. Despite this, the Flyers are still solidly in the running, thanks to an incredibly well-timed stretch of wins. Seriously, imagine how far back they'd be had they played badly on that California road trip. What a disaster that could have been.
But instead, the Flyers are in third place--three points behind the Rangers, one ahead of the Blue Jackets. It's not surprising that we take each game as a matter of life and death, because, looking long-term, that's kind of the reality. Right now, no team is in position to break away from the rest of the division, so the difference between playoffs and no playoffs will probably come down to a game or two.
Bolstered by wins against some strong competition, the Flyers are looking to go into the break on a high note. Against a team like Calgary, it seems like it should be easy, but with every point carrying amazing weight, one would hope that the Flyers play the Flames just as seriously as they'd play a top team.
Ray Emery gets the start today as Steve Mason will begin his break a bit early. Hopefully he drinks lots of water. Flames goaltender Karri Ramo is out due to a knee injury, so expect backup Reto Berra to get his third start in a row.
This will be our last chance for a while to watch some good old fashioned Flyers hockey, so let's hope it's a good one! Go get 'em, boys.