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Evgeni Malkin reportedly out for season; Flyers road to the Cup gets easier

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We'll hedge this with a few things. First, as we learned a year ago, the playoffs can be a mess and any team can wind up advancing all the way to the Cup Final despite their regular season troubles. Secondly, the Flyers are no guarantee to even make the playoffs yet (not until there's an X there next to their name, at least), so looking ahead can seem a little awkward.

Still, the news today that Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins is likely out for the year is a serious boost to the Flyers hopes to go deep in the postseason. The Penguins announced on Saturday morning that Malkin has an MCL tear and an ACL tear, suffered just a few minutes after his return to the lineup Friday night. He'd missed five games prior with knee problems. Now, he'll most likely need season-ending surgery.

We've mainly considered the Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning the two biggest threats to the Flyers' chances in the Eastern Conference, and without Malkin, its safe to say the Pens are.... well, screwed. It's true that they've been able to get by without Malkin and Sidney Crosby for a while now, and Pens fans have talked about the depth that they've been able to show off as a result.

With Malkin out for the season now, though, that depth is really going to be tested, and I'd put my money on that depth not being good enough to get the Pens past the Flyers in a seven game series. You never want to win on the account of injuries, but this certainly makes the Flyers' road a whole lot easier.