TORONTO -- If first place in the Eastern Conference werent already out of reach for the Flyers, it got a little farther away on Wednesday night.
The Rangers' victory over Winnipeg pushed them to nine points ahead of the Flyers, who meet the Maple Leafs on Thursday evening.
The Flyers have six games left -- a potential 12 points to be reaped -- but the focus clearly has shifted toward the fourth-seeded Penguins, where its rightly been for a while now.
Pittsburgh (100 points) has stumbled lately, leaving the Flyers still with the Pens reach, sitting four points behind.
At the same time, the Flyers (96 points) need to be wary of sixth-seeded New Jersey, which remains four points behind them.
The task gets tougher because goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is temporarily removed from the equation, while very rusty backup Sergei Bobrovsky goes into the net. For how long, no one knows.
This much is certain: the Flyers can still catch the Pens with two head-to-head matches in the final week of the season, starting Sunday.
There is so much parity in the league, Danny Briere said. There are no for sure games anymore like there were in the 1980s.
Even the teams that are near the bottom. Toronto and Montreal are not easy targets. Look at the Islanders beating Pittsburgh. There are no easy games anymore.
We dont know what can happen. Were four points back and we have to play them twice. There is still a chance.
While the Pens have lost a couple, so have the Flyers, who dropped two games recently to two Southeast Division opponents -- Florida and Tampa Bay -- they should have beaten.
Theres the four points that would have catapulted the Flyers over Pittsburgh based on wins in regulationovertime.
Its still there, Claude Giroux said. We have to make sure these points dont fall away.
That last game Tampa, those kind of games hurt you.
We have to find a way to motivate ourselves to get those points. Those are big points, too. You cant let those points get away from you this late in the season.
Several Flyers have commented recently about failing to overtake Pittsburgh because of poor play against lesser teams, like the Panthers and Lightning.
Its just frustrating to think we could have been tied with them, Giroux said. During the season, there were a couple games we could have won. Points got way.
At this point we realize it. Its the same story every year. These final six games are pretty important.
Its starts tonight at Air Canada Centre.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org