Flyers looking to clinch essentially-clinched playoff spot in Florida

Flyers looking to clinch essentially-clinched playoff spot in Florida

If the Philadelphia Flyers pick up two points against the sad-sack Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, the orange and black officially clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anything can happen after the puck drops, but not exactly the unlikeliest of scenarios versus the second-worst team in the NHL.

Of course, should the Panthers manage to play the role of spoiler tonight, it’s not like the Flyers don’t have the rest of the week to punch their ticket to the dance. Barring an epic meltdown, Philadelphia’s table in the postseason is already reserved.

The Flyers have a five-point lead and a game in hand over the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs, the two clubs currently on the outside looking in. That means the Bullies would have to lose all four of their remaining games in regulation, and either NJ or TOR would have to win three in a row.

We’re a long ways away from any real drama here.

Of course, a loss in Florida could still be very damaging to Philadelphia. For one, they’re still vying for the second-place finisher in the Metropolitan Division, which would ensure home ice against third place. Given that they’re currently on a collision course with the New York Rangers, and the Flyers can’t seem to buy a win at Madison Square Garden lately, that could wind up mattering quite a bit.

New York is currently in front by two points, though the Flyers have a game in hand. The Rags also own the first tiebreaker at the moment, which would be wins in regulation and overtime, but it’s close—39-37.

The Flyers and Rangers split the season series, so the final tiebreaker would be goal differential, which New York has a substantial lead in.

The Flyers also have to worry about the Columbus Blue Jackets nipping at their heels. Philadelphia holds a two-point lead, which is hardly insurmountable.

If the Blue Jackets manage to oust Philadelphia from third place in the Metro, the orange and black would claim one of the Wild Card spots instead. The end result of that could be okay—the short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins—or it could be devastating—the suffocating Boston Bruins—as far as first-round matchups go.

So, yes, tonight’s points do matter, but we won’t be throwing any parties for the Flyers just because they got into the playoffs. That’s felt like a foregone conclusion for at least the last few weeks.

Right now, the points only seem important insomuch as they could seal Philadelphia’s fate very early on in the tournament.

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Vincent Trocheck scored with just under 5 seconds remaining to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.

Jonathan Marchessault also scored and James Reimer stopped 26 shots to help the Panthers complete a 5-0 road trip -- their first perfect trip of at least that many games in franchise history.

Reimer has won five straight decisions and has not lost in regulation since Jan. 7 against Boston, going 6-0-1 since.

The Panthers moved into a tie with Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division, but have the edge because they have a game in hand on the Bruins.

Kyle Brodziak, playing for the second time after missing 10 games due to a broken foot, scored for the Blues and Jake Allen finished with 31 saves. St. Louis lost its second straight since winning six in a row (see full recap).

Coyotes use three-goal 1st period to beat Ducks
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Radim Vrbata capped Arizona's three-goal first period and the Coyotes held on for 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun also scored for Arizona, and starting goalie Mike Smith had 27 saves before leaving about 4 1/2 minutes into the third period after a collision in the net. Marek Langhamer helped kill a power play after being pressed into action for his NHL debut and stopped six of the seven shots he faced.

The Coyotes have won four of their last six.

Langhamer gave up Ryan Getzlaf's second goal of the night with 26.8 seconds to play, but thwarted two quality shots in the final seconds.

Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on six shots in the first period for the Ducks. John Gibson came on to start the second and stopped all 14 shots he faced (see full recap).

Joel Embiid admits to reaggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid admits to reaggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid trusts the Process, more so than anyone — the process of patience.

After sitting out two whole seasons because of foot injuries, Embiid learned the importance of patience the hard way.

Appearing on NBA TV's Open Court, Joel Embiid opened up about how he reaggravated the fracture in his foot that cost him the 2015-16 season.

"I didn't know how to deal with patience," Embiid said on the roundtable discussion. "I just wanted to do stuff, that's why I think I needed a second surgery, because after my first one, I just wanted to play basketball again. I just wanted to be on the court and I pushed through what I wasn't supposed to.

"At one point I thought about quitting. I just wanted to come back home and just forget everything."

Embiid goes on to discuss the Sixers' turnaround this season and his mindset during his recovery. Watch the full clip below. 

Embiid also said he models his game after Hakeem Olajuwon.