The most positive part of tonight: every single Flyer interviewed in the post-game show called the third period “unacceptable.” In that third period, the Flyers were outshot, 16-3, and outscored, 2-1. The fact that these guys are excited about the playoffs but realize that there is still much more necessary improvement means one thing to me: they’re hungry. They want the cup and they will do everything they can to accomplish that goal.
Now for the positives in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers:
-Vinny scores his 20th: Vincent Lecavalier scored his 20th goal of the season tonight. He has now scored 20 goals each season he has played except for his rookie year, and last year’s short season. Lecavalier is the 7th Flyers to reach the 20 goal mark. Flyers are the only team in the NHL with seven 20-goal scorers and in fact, no team even has six.
-CAPTAIN CLAUDE: Giroux hadn’t scored for some time and neither had any of his line-mates on the Flyers’ top line. Giroux showed his pure “Sniper” tonight as the first line came back to their scoring ways.
-Depth: The first line scored tonight, the fourth line has been producing big since Lecavalier moved down, and the middle lines have been carrying the team coming into tonight. If all four lines can continue to produce on both ends of the ice, the Flyers will be in good shape.
-Goaltending: Steve Mason has been the core of this team all season and he kept the Flyers in it all game tonight. Mason made 38 saves on 40 shots.
The win clinches a playoff birth for the Flyers; they still have a two-point lead on the Blue Jackets for third place in the Metropolitan Division so the Wild Card is still very much a possibility. The Flyers play at Tampa Bay on Thursday, at Pittsburgh on Saturday, and at home against Carolina on Sunday while the Blue Jackets play at Dallas tomorrow, at Tampa Bay on Friday, and at Florida on Saturday. Comparatively, the Flyers have a slightly easier schedule considering they have a home game while the Jackets finish out on the road, but nothing is a guarantee.
For the Flyers to be able to maintain the third seed (or to possibly take over second from the Rangers), they’ll need to play a complete game like tonight’s second period. The Flyers were outshot in the second period, 12-10, but outscored the Panthers, 4-0. The hunger I mentioned before should be able to spark this play. The final five days of the Flyers’ regular season should be extremely exciting. The puck drops in Tampa Bay at 7:30 on Thursday.