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Flyers Takeaways: Playoff Hopes Still Alive With Win Against Rangers

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It’s not over for the Philadelphia Flyers. They’re not going down without a fight.

With a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, the Flyers are back within a shout of a playoff spot and have two more games left to get the job done.

“We win, and we get to fight another day,” head coach John Tortorella declared. “We have to do the same thing when we play on Saturday.”

Sam Ersson bounces back for Flyers

Thursday night was a tough night for the Sam Ersson doubters who felt Ersson was not an NHL-level goalie, or whatever other criticism they unjustly levied upon the 24-year-old.

Ersson was fantastic against the Rangers, stopping all 18 shots he faced at even strength and going 5-for-6 with the Flyers short-handed. All in all, Ersson stopped 24 of 25 shots, good for a .960 save percentage.

“It’s been kind of a struggle here lately, so it was definitely huge,” Ersson said of his performance. “Especially coming off a performance like last game, you want to bounce back. We still believe that we’re in this thing, and we’re going to do everything we can to try to make a push here.”

This was his first game over a .900 save percentage since March 23 against Boston and his first over .910 since March 12 against San Jose. For the Flyers to have any chance at a playoff berth, they need Ersson to sustain this level for two more games.

Tonight was an important first step, and it showed that the goalie who endeared himself to Flyers fans throughout the winter is still in there.

Noah Cates catches fire at the right time

It’s unlikely many had Noah Cates penciled in as the hero of the Flyers’ playoff push here, given his struggles offensively throughout the season.

But Cates has caught fire with two games left in the season and now finds himself on a career-high five-game point streak (3G, 2A, 5 PTS). The 25-year-old scored two big goals against the Islanders and Sabres, and although his team wasn’t able to capitalize then, they did against the Rangers on Thursday night.

“It’s such an important time of the season, and I want to be a big player for this team,” Cates said. “It’s meaningless if we don’t get two points in these next couple of games.”

That’s a winning attitude.

It may seem like Cates has been around for a while, but he’s only in his second full season in the NHL. He’s one of many Flyers players learning how to fight at this time of the season, and he’s a guy that’s going to be around for many more like it.

Travis Konecny elevates Flyers with season on the line

There might not be one Flyers player who’s taken more flak for the monumental collapse in these last few weeks than Travis Konecny. And, maybe you could say that’s appropriate, because Konecny is the team’s de facto star player.

With the season on the line on Thursday night, though, Konecny elevated his team to their biggest win of the season.

Having gone three games without a point, Konecny picked up a primary assist on Cam York’s goal to open the scoring, and later potted the Flyers’ decisive third goal, cashing in on a Ryan Poehling feed seconds after making an excellent stick-lift on Mika Zibanejad while backchecking.

“I’m just trying to play my game, and I think that’s what everyone is trying to do,” Konecny assessed. “Whenever you have an opportunity to make a difference, whether it’s me or somebody else, I think it’s that time of the year where guys are looking to step up and wanting to be a part of that success.”

It might not show up on the scoresheet, but Konecny’s defensive play shows the engagement and the will to win. That hasn’t been there – this goes for mostly all of the Flyers – during this abysmal stretch, but it was there when the Flyers needed it the most.

With home dates against New Jersey and Washington set to decide the season, the Flyers need Konecny, Cates, Ersson, and the whole group to empty their tanks and finish on a high note.

For more Flyers news and up-to-date coverage, visit Philly Hockey Now and like our Facebook page.
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