Though the Flyers haven’t been mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention just yet — it’s an inevitability at this point — the Orange and Black are left playing out the string so they say.
That string is a 11-game stretch that begins with the Rangers tonight and tomorrow from Madison Square Garden. Despite losing one of these matchups by a whopping 9-0 score, the Flyers are somehow 3-2-1 against the Blueshirts this year.
While the Flyers have sagged out of a playoff spot, the Rangers are surging towards one with an 8-3-2 run since they were upended by a late Samuel Morin goal back on March 27.
But even with a red-hot run — buoyed by Artemi Panarin — the Rangers find themselves six points behind Boston for the final playoff spot in the East Division, and have played two more games than the Bruins.
Unless some type of historic collapse — looking at you, 2008 New York Mets — takes place here, we’re looking at two teams on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
On the ice the Rangers have been hot offensively and gotten stellar goaltending from Igor Shesterkin, who was 6-1-2 with a .925 save percentage following Morin’s goal, until watching the Islanders light him up for six the other night. Panarin, meanwhile, was held scoreless by the Isles after a tear that included points in eight of 10 games — including six multi-point efforts.
The Flyers have lost four of five after being shutout by the Islanders on Sunday night and are firmly in the business of evaluating young talent in preparation for 2021-22.
Among them has been Wade Allison, who scored his first career NHL goal against the Capitals back on March 17, and has brought some much-needed juice to the lineup. Also bringing some energy was Tanner Laczynski, who has missed some time with a lower body injury, but is clearly auditioning for a role next season with Michael Raffl’s trade deadline area code change.
But just as the Flyers’ brass is evaluating those guys, they’re also looking closely at Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, and Philippe Myers — all of whom have been inconsistent this season.
The Flyers will look to support their goalies more than the four total goals they’ve provided Carter Hart, Brian Elliott, and even Alex Lyon. While the goaltending wasn’t particularly good in a 6-3 loss against the Capitals last week, they’ve been solid the past few outings and let down by the offense at large.
We’ll see what happens, but at least we can say that the Flyers and Rangers have certain all provided some fireworks when they’ve got together this season thus far — so at least it’ll be entertaining in some fashion.