The Philadelphia Flyers are playing some pretty good hockey right now. They haven’t been getting the results that they deserve in all of those games, but they did on Saturday afternoon.
Travis Konecny played extremely well and Sean Couturier scored the game-winning goal in the third period to keep the Flyers’ hopes alive. Brian Elliott made 30 saves on 32 shots and the penalty kill was successful on all four tries. It was a great all-around win.
Saturday afternoon was one of the more impressive wins of the season and it came at the most important time.
“I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have liked our chances of battling back if we would have lost tonight,” Alain Vigneault said after the game. “We needed to win, especially in regulation and especially a team that we are chasing. They’ve got two games in hand, but they’ve got a lot of hockey to play in a short amount of time. You never know how it’s going to turn out. We got to take care of our own business and focus on our game here. We got a big game coming up tomorrow.”
For as big as Saturday’s win was, it won’t mean anything if the Flyers don’t take care of business against the lowly Buffalo Sabres.
The Flyers are favored to win Sunday’s game and the Bruins are slight underdogs against the Capitals in their game. If the Flyers win and the Bruins lose, Philadelphia will be just two points behind Boston for the last playoff spot in the East.
Flyers need to avoid a letdown
Consistency has been an issue for the Flyers this season. They haven’t won back-to-back games in regulation since winning three straight from February 24th to 28th (one against the Rangers, two in Buffalo). The Flyers have only won back-to-back games in any fashion just once since then with their 2-1 win against the Rangers and overtime win in Buffalo two weeks ago.
They are playing better hockey right now though. The Flyers are 4-2-2 in their last eight games and 2-1-2 in their five games since having back-to-back days off. They’re outshooting opponents 156-134 in those five games.
“It’s about gaining momentum and confidence and trying to string together those segments where you’re winning a lot of games,” Travis Konecny said after Saturday’s game. “As far as how we’ve been playing, we’re not super surprised. It’s how we’ve been wanting to play all year and how we know we can play and now it’s just coming together, and things are starting to happen for us. We just got to stick to the same way we’ve been playing, the same plan and regroup and come back and be ready to play again.”
Sunday’s game should be an easy win for the Flyers. However, the Sabres have made things tough for the Flyers this season. They have two wins, including one last week to break their 18-game losing streak, and have earned a point in two others. It doesn’t really matter if the Sabres pick up a point, but only beating Buffalo in overtime or a shootout isn’t the type of win the Flyers need.
Last chance to impress Chuck Fletcher
The Flyers need a decisive win, especially given the timing of the game.
The opening puck drop is less than 25 hours before Monday’s trade deadline. This is the last chance for the Flyers to impress Chuck Fletcher before the deadline. If they win in impressive fashion, perhaps Fletcher decides to re-sign Laughton and even add a depth piece or two to shore things up. If they lose, it could be a fire sale.
In all likelihood, Fletcher will be opportunistic at the deadline. He should be open to both buying and selling. The Flyers need defensive help, but there are also a few pieces that could be traded for picks or other assets with prospects waiting in the wings.
The next 30 hours should be interesting in Philadelphia and around the NHL.
Photo: Heather Barry Images