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Gameday: Win and you're in

#4 Philadelphia Flyers (40-23-10, 94 pts) at #12 Ottawa Senators (33-34-10, 76 pts)
Scotiabank Place - 7:00 PM EDT - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 205
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Silver Seven Sens

Last season, both tenants of the Wachovia Center, the 76ers and the Flyers, clinched playoff berths on the same day. Thanks to a 95-90 win over the Detroit Pistons today, the Sixers are in the NBA playoffs. With a win tonight over Ottawa, the Flyers can make history repeat itself.

The orange and black arrived in Ottawa around 1 AM this morning after a big statement win at home last night against the Maple Leafs. After a win like that and an overnight trip abroad, it can sometimes be easy to let up a little bit. It can be hard to get up for a game against a team that has nothing to play for, as the Flyers proved last Wednesday.

They can't do that. There is too much on the line tonight. Besides the fact that the Flyers can clinch a playoff berth with two points this evening (which would make the next week much easier on the rest of us), Carolina and Pittsburgh play each other tonight. The Penguins are just two points behind the Flyers while the Hurricanes are just one point back, and with at least one of those teams getting points tonight no matter what happens, the Flyers NEED a win tonight.

At the same time, the Flyers aren't going to come out the same way they did last night and replicate a five-goal first period. But if they play as the situation warrants, they will win. It's really that simple. They need to get it done, and we should all expect them to at this point.

Between the Pipes: It's the second game of a back-to-back, which means it's no surprise that Antero Niittymaki gets the call for the Flyers tonight. He has lost his last two starts: last Sunday against Boston and two Sunday's ago versus the Rangers. He relieved Martin Biron in the second period on Wednesday night and played shutout hockey for just over 25 minutes.

Alex Auld will be in net for the second consecutive game for the Senators. He made 31 saves in a 2-1 loss against Boston on Thursday night. He hasn't played in consecutive games since late February. He has a 2.51 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 39 games this season.

Ottawa Senators Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jason Smith knee 03/09/2009
Alexandre Picard knee 03/01/2009
Cody Bass shoulder 12/28/2008
Pascal Leclaire ankle 01/08/2009

Playoff Push: The other games around the Eastern Conference playoff race tonight, and who we want to win. The Bruins already beat the Rangers today by a 1-0 score, meaning Florida can tie New York in points with a win tomorrow. But, for tonight:

  • #2 New Jersey Devils at #10 Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres need a win tonight to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Devils, despite barely eeking out a win last night against Tampa, are still not looking good right now. We'd like things to stay that way. Go Sabres.
  • #7 Montreal Canadiens at #11 Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs should be pissed off after their loss to the Flyers. Let's hope they take it out on Montreal. Go Leafs.
  • #6 Pittsburgh Penguins at #5 Carolina Hurricanes: The 'Canes have won seven straight. Unfortunately for the Flyers, as already mentioned, one of these teams will get two points tonight. It's up to Philadelphia to keep pace and hope it doesn't go into overtime. If you're looking for someone to cheer for, however, go with Carolina. A Pittsburgh loss and a Flyer win would put them out of immediate reach of fourth place. A Carolina win is fine because the Flyers hold a game in hand over them. Most importantly though, Go Flyers.

Questions To Answer

  1. There's a ton on the line tonight and the Flyers should play like this is a playoff game. Do they?
  2. What's Jeff Carter offer up for an encore?
  3. And Claude Giroux's encore?
  4. What about Antero Niittymaki? He's been less than impressive lately.

Tonight will be Jason Spezza's 400th game. Let's make it miserable for him, eh boys? Philly teams going three-for-three today would be real nice. Go Villanova, and Go Flyers. Clinch it.

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