By Spencer Barnett –
Rewind the clock about 11 months. The Philadelphia Flyers just shocked the world with their stunning performance on their road to the Stanley Cup finals with dramatic wins over Boston and New Jersey, where they fell short to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Now fast-forward to present day.
With a Stanley Cup appearance on their backs from last year, the Philadelphia Flyers have a lot of expectations to live up to in the short-coming playoff season. The Flyers will close out the regular season with back-to-back games tonight and Saturday against their first-round playoff opponent, the Buffalo Sabres tonight and the New York Islanders the following day.
The Flyers throughout the regular season held the first place spot in the Eastern Conference. But with the loss of Chris Pronger, Flyers star defender who suffered a broken hand in February, their season took a turn for the worst.
The Flyers are currently on a four-game losing streak and even worse, have lost the last six home games. From this drought, the team lost their first place spot to the Washington Capitals, who are led by captain Alexander Ovechkin.
“It’s always good to talk about what needs to be done, but talk is cheap,” Pronger said in an interview with Dan Gelston, AP Sports Writer for Yahoo Sports. “We’ve got to go out and prove it on the ice.”
Throughout all of this struggle, there is still hope for this Philadelphia team. If the Washington Capitals, who are on a four-game winning streak, lose to Florida in regular time, the Flyers can steal back their first place spot.
“We’ve been waiting for eight months to get to the playoffs,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. “Seven months out of those eight, we’ve been great. This last month, we’ve not been great. Maybe it’s a lull before we get jacked up again.”
One thing that is for sure about the Flyers postseason, is the man in front of the net.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has already posted that goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will be getting the start in game one. The rookie goaltender has had an outstanding year with 28 wins, a .917 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average. Bobrovsky is getting the start over last years standout goalie Brian Boucher.
“Paul (Holmgren) made the decision yesterday was the time for (Leighton) to come back up here,” Laviolette said. “He gives us more depth in that spot with his experience. But to start the playoffs, Bob will be the guy in net.”
For the Flyers, it’s gut-check time and no one sums it up better than Danny Breier, Flyers right wing.
“I think it needed to be done. But, at the same time, it is time to stop talking and start acting it out on the ice,” Briere said. “There were lots of little things that needed to be said. That’s step one. Step two is to finish it strong. And step three will be to start the playoffs.”