Coming into Saturday afternoon's game against the Bruins the Flyers' playoff chances stood at 3.6%. The game was a virtual "must win" being that the Bruins are the team the Flyers are desperately trying to catch. It's hard to be hopeful given such a small chance but if the Flyers were going to pull it off, a win against Boston was critical.
Per Frank Seravalli, the Flyers' playoff chances could have spiked as high as 10.6% or fallen as low as 1% depending on the outcome of the game. Again, "must win" wasn't a stretch here.
The Flyers started the game off playing pretty well and were winning the puck possession battle against the Bruins. The Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, and Matt Read line had some particular strong shifts in the first period. They were fortunate enough to get time away from Patrice Bergeron's line who was matched up against Claude Giroux early in the game.
However, the Bruins struck first on the power-play when Zdeno Chara flipped a wristshot on net from the point and it snuck its way past Steve Mason as he couldn't find it in traffic.
The Flyers answered with their own power-play goal in the second. Voracek scored on a rebound after a Claude Giroux shot from above the circle. The goal was Voracek's twentieth of the season and his tenth power-play goal.
The Flyers were getting outplayed at various times throughout the second and third periods. In the third, Berube frequently had the old Giroux, Voracek, Michael Raffl line together to try to spark some offense. After an icing call on the Bruins, the puck found its way back to Nick Schultz who floated a shot on net. Chris Vandevelde got a piece of it and it trickled past Tuukka Rask to give the Flyers the 2-1 lead with 4:30 remaining in the game.
With 2:03 left, Wayne Simmonds was called for tripping. It was a pretty soft call, but I believe it was the right one. The Bruins pulled the goaltender to make it a six on four advantage and the penalty-kill was hemmed in for almost the entire two minutes. When Steve Mason swallowed up a shot with no rebound it looked like the Flyers might be able to escape with the victory with some fresh penalty killers. Unfortunately, a lost faceoff led to a Dougie Hamilton point shot and a beautiful deflection by Brad Marchand to tie the game with 14.1 seconds left.
With the Bruins gifted one point, that meant that an OT or shootout win would mean a 9.2% playoff chance. An OT or shootout loss netted a 1.8% playoff chance. So "must win" was still very applicable.
In overtime the Flyers failed to connect on both a three-on-one opportunity as well as a Jake Voracek breakaway. Ultimately, Brad Marchand was able to score on a backhand after a nice move on Michael Del Zotto to win it for the Bruins 3-2 in OT.
The Flyers now sit at 69 points with the Bruins at 74 points and two games in hand. If you hadn't already done it, I think you can call this season a wrap.
* Steve Mason had a strong game and made several outstanding saves. In particular he had a diving/sprawling stick save in the first period that was fantastic. You can't fault him on any of the goals against.
* Michael Del Zotto left the game in the first period after blocking a shot and missed the remainder of the period. Fortunately, he returned to start the second and appeared ok as he still logged 22:31 of ice time.
* Zac Rinaldo did manage to do something good today. Adam McQuaid had a pretty big hit on Jake Voracek in the first. Rinaldo approached McQuaid and managed to goad him into taking a penalty. Outside of that though, he was largely useless in his 8:33.
* When the Bruins iced the puck in the third period, I wasn't exactly thrilled with Craig Berube giving the fourth line the offensive zone shift with them so desperately needing a goal. But then again, what do I know because Chris Vandevelde went and scored.
* Jake Voracek had a goal disallowed in the third period due to incidental contact with the goaltender. It was the right call.
* I have a mostly irrational dislike for Brayden Schenn and tonight exemplified why. Objectively, I understand that he's a 23 year old 15-20 goal, 40-45 point guy, on a good contract. For those reasons, he has value. However, he's what I like to call a "Ghost" (and not the good kind like Ghost Bear). If Schenn isn't putting up points, I question if people would even remember if he stepped on the ice. In fact, I just shocked myself by looking at the box score and realizing he had an assist and I still wasn't even aware that he had played. He was also worst on the team in shot attempt differential today with a -6.
However, the last time I felt this way about a player was James van Riemsdyk and we saw how that worked out for us, so feel free to ignore me like my Broad Street Hockey comrades do on this topic.
* Sean Couturier seemed to be quite mad with himself after the game as he could be seen breaking his stick on the bench. He turned the puck over in the neutral zone in overtime which led to the Marchand game winner.