BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
As we begin to round the bend into the final stretch of the NHL season, a playoff picture starts to take shape. Fortunately for the Flyers, the brush is in their hand. None of the teams that they are in serious contention with have more games left to play than they do, so coach Peter Laviolette’s team has complete control over its destiny.
They’re currently the 6th seed with four points over the 7th seed Boston Bruins and only three points behind the 5th place Ottawa Senators.
Last night’s win over the second to last place New York Islanders may seem routine – the Flyers currently hold the longest winning streak over another team at fifteen straight over the Isles – but for those who watched the game, it was anything but routine.
The first period started off with the Flyers struggling just to get a hold of the puck, as the Islanders skated circles around them. After the rookie John Tavares scored to take a 1-0 lead, he seemed he woke a sleeping giant. The Flyers captain Mike Richards led his line of Simon Gagne and Dan Carcillo on a warpath that generated momentum the Flyers carried through to the end of the game.
Unfortunately, despite this control, the Islanders still found the next goal from Kyle Okposo. Jeff Carter managed to pull within one minutes later after putting home a feed from Danny Briere.
The third period was when the Flyers’ control came to a head. Three power plays gave them a chance for two goals: one as Claude Giroux settled down a bullet pass from Richards for a neat backhand shot over the shoulder of goalie Dwayne Roloson, and the other as he snatched a puck out of midair barehanded, put it down, and sent a pass to Simon Gagne for the go-ahead goal, 3-2.
Despite the sloppiness in its execution, this win is still good for two points as the next few games continue to get more difficult and points start to come at a premium. If the Flyers can keep the ship afloat through these tough times, there’s always a chance they’ll strike it hot when the time is right.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Special Teams: The Flyers played a disciplined game, taking only one penalty. They killed that off, and managed to score on two of their four power play opportunities. Coming into the game, the Flyers’ PP was ranked 3rd in the league.
Claude Giroux: One of the most purely skilled players on the Flyers’ roster, Giroux was the orchestrator on the Flyers’ two third period goals in a rare come-from-behind final frame.
Composure: In a game like this, where you control the flow of play for nearly the first thirty minutes, and still find yourself down two goals, it’s easy to become discouraged. Laviolette’s team didn’t fall into that trap. They continued to work at it until the goals came in bunches and they found a win. This persistence is a key ingredient in any team looking to make a deep playoff run.