Not long ago, the Rangers’ lead over the Atlantic Division, and with it the Eastern Conference, seemed insurmountable. Now, after winning their ninth straight, the Penguins are absolutely in striking distance, and after their fifth consecutive win, the Flyers are just four back of the Pens heading into tonight’s game against the Devils. Jersey, though having played one more game, is just two points back of the Flyers.
The Rangers have slowed their pace, losing three straight, and the Bruins have fallen off as well. The top three Eastern teams in terms of points are all from the Atlantic, and NJ is tied with Boston heading into tonight. The Rags will resume winning again, and the impressive Pens and Flyers will lose a few games eventually, but the middle of the pack is climbing the standings ladder, and we’re in for an exciting every-game-counts finish to the season.
Tonight’s action pits the currently 5th seeded Flyers against the 6th seeded Devils at 7PM.
For the most part, no one is playing for seeding aside from a desire to steal the division. Everyone’s just trying to get their game in order for the postseason regardless of matchup. These games have some added interest though in that a pair of Atlantic could teams could square off as the 4-5 pairing.
How do you like the Flyers’ chances against Pittsburgh or New Jersey in a seven-game series?
We’ll get a good look at Lou Lam’s boys with back-to-back games tonight and Tuesday. The Devils have won four of their last five after losing four in a row. Last night, they too were scoreless against the Islanders through two periods, and the Isles had the game within reach after John Tavares scored in the third. But David Clarkson equalized with less than two minutes to play, and Marek Zidlicky put the Devils ahead 14 seconds later. Thanks a lot, Islanders.
After not getting a single power play last night, the Flyers face the league’s top killing unit tonight. Hopefully we’ll at least get a shot at them.
Gotta be a tough call for Peter Laviolette as to who should start in net. Ilya Bryzgalov has gone 11 straight without a break, but he’s playing out of his mind right now, currently riding a pair of consecutive shutouts, with three in his past four games.
Who do you go with in net in this important matchup? The locked-in netminder or the backup who could use a turn? [UPDATE: Sam Carchidi says Bob goes tonight]
The schedule remains jam-packed, with games Tuesday and Thursday, and two battles looming next weekend—in Boston and hosting Pittsburgh. If the Flyers can keep playing at this level, and get healthy, it should be pretty entertaining.