Flyers Bested By Wild, Playoff Picture Looking Grim

March 26th, 2010 No Comments

Written By: Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter

Marred in a three game losing streak, the Philadelphia Flyers playoff picture was starting to get a little blurry.

The Flyers iced a lineup against the Minnesota Wild that was void of their number two centre and top scorer in Jeff Carter and arguably their most consistent defenseman, Matt Carle. Add the fact that the Flyers were also dressing their third string goalie and there were not a lot of fans of the Orange and Black that were confident coming into tonight’s match.

For their part, the Minnesota Wild also had a number of scratches on the night, including defenseman Shane Hnidy and franchise player Mikko Koivu. The Wild have been struggling as of late, going a mediocre 4-5-1 in their past ten games.

Nobody is suggesting that the Wild are easy pray, but given their struggles and the fact that Koivu was on the sidelines, they were exactly the type of team the Flyers needed to play—a team that is as thin on players as the Flyers are and a team that struggles to score.

The Flyers came into tonight’s action just one point ahead of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference. Without a doubt, the Flyers will be in tough to hold on to their playoff spot, clearly every game down the stretch will count.

When it comes to a playoff berth, tonight’s loss against the Wild will likely go a long way in determining the Flyers fate. Let’s face it, tonight’s loss puts the Flyers on a four game losing streak, which has got to be murder on the teams Psyche.

The game itself saw the Flyers pepper Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom with 12 shots in the first period and were rewarded for their efforts with two goals from defenseman Oskars Bartulis and forward Simon Gagne respectively.

For their part the Wild would muster only three shots in the period, a stat that would not sit lightly with any NHL coach.

The second period saw the Wild score early on when defenseman Marek Zidlicky blasted a slap shot past Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher at 00:34 of the period, a power play goal, Zidlicky’s sixth of the season.

The Flyers and Wild exchanged chances for most of the second period with the Flyers connecting at 11:11 when Daniel “Car Bomb” Carcillo tipped in a shot from Scott Hartnell, who drew the assist on the play.

Just when the Flyers thought they were on their way to an easy victory the Wild struck for two goals from Martin Havlat (his 18th on the season) and Andrew Brunette (his 22nd), forcing overtime.

The Wild would complete the comeback when Kyle Brodziak snapped a shot past Boucher at 2:33 of overtime and just like that the Flyers slim playoff chances got a little slimmer.

Simply put, the Flyers seemed to run out of gas, mustering a paltry six shots on goal in the third. Simon Gagne played a spirited game, earning second star honors, but the Flyers didn’t get it done when it counted and Boucher let the team down once again, giving up those two third period goals and the one in overtime.

Up by two goals in the third, you expect your team to come out with a “W”, sadly, the Flyers did not get it done.

The only saving grace from tonight’s game is that the Boston Bruins lost 5-3 to the tampa Bay Lightning. When everything is said and done the Flyers increased their lead on the Bruins by one point and, as precarious as that lead may seem, the Flyers will take the two point advantage.

Only time will tell if the Flyers can hold off the Bruins, the good news is the Bruins are a bad team with pathetic scoring abilities, something that may prove to be their undoing.

In just under 14 minutes of play Claude Giroux was all but invisible on the ice. He’ll need to step it up if the Flyers have any chance of making a run at the playoffs.

The good news is Gagne, Richards, Hartnell and Carcillo all had solid games, tallying 16 shots between them and three points.

Next up, the Flyers will travel to Pittsburgh to take on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. If the Flyers play like this they are bound to get their heads handed to them by the Penguins who are 4-3-3 in their past ten games, but have played Philly tough all season long.

The Penguins will be no joke. For the Flyers sake, let’s hope Boucher has a better game, man does this team ever miss Michael Leighton—who thought anyone would ever be saying that?

Until next time,

Peace!

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