For Flyers, a fifth opportunity to reach .500

For Flyers, a fifth opportunity to reach .500

February 25, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Will the Flyers find success on their fifth attempt at gaining .500?
 
That’s the pertinent question Monday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Wells Fargo Center with ex-Flyer James van Riemsdyk as the sixth-overall scorer in the NHL with 11 goals.
 
Four times now the Flyers have had a chance to hit .500 in the win-loss column and failed. Most recently it was Feb. 21, in a back-to-back situation against Florida in which the Flyers were dead on their feet during a 5-2 loss, the night after an emotionally-draining 6-5 win in Pittsburgh.
 
The Leafs ruined one of the Flyers’ previous bids at .500 on Feb. 11 with a 5-2 victory in which JVR scored against Brian Boucher, who relieved starter Ilya Bryzgalov.
 
That loss was part of a six-game Flyer road trip where the club finished 3-3. Since the loss to Toronto, the Flyers are 4-3.
 
“Hopefully, we can finally [do] it,” said Jakub Voracek, who has 12 points over his last five games and was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday. “It's been four times. Too many times. We gotta make it happen.”
 
While the Flyers finally reached the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings with a 5-3 win over Winnipeg Saturday, the fact remains this is their 21st game.
 
As of Monday morning the Flyers are ninth, tied with eighth-seeded Tampa Bay in points at 19.
 
Teams behind them in the standings have anywhere from 1-3 games in hand to negate whatever edge coach Peter Laviolette's club would enjoy in the standings.
 
Which makes this yet another crucial four-point swing in the standings.
 
“It’s huge,” said Brayden Schenn, who scored two goals in the victory over the Jets. “It feels like we’re one game away and then we hurt ourselves a little bit with a couple [games].
 
“It’s huge for us to be ready for Toronto. They are a good hockey team, playing good hockey. It’s not going to be an easy game.”

If the Flyers are going to get to .500, they need a better start than they’ve had in their previous three games against Pittsburgh, Florida and Winnipeg.
 
You have to wonder whether this remains a psychological hurdle for them.
 
“I don’t know if it is getting back to 500,” Laviolette said. “You have to be so many games over .500 in order to make the playoffs and get a chance to compete for the Cup.
 
“So we need to get there at some point and it’s good to be home here with some games and get some rest -- like we do today and tomorrow -- and use that to our advantage.”
 
The importance of this game isn’t lost on team captain Claude Giroux.
 
“We’ve had a couple of chances to go to .500 this year and we got to make sure we get those wins,” he said.
 
“We have a couple of games at home right now on this stretch [to do it]. We've got to make sure to bear down here and be ready for the game.”

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