While the Flyers still have a game in hand on the Capitals, they're no
longer sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings. Do they feel any
pressure to be the top seed? If so, they certainly haven't showed it on
the ice recently. Do they feel the pressure of entering the playoffs
cold and on a bad home streak? Operating under last season's precedent,
that they can back in, then turn it on, is foolhardy. It was a surprise
last spring, and neither the players nor the fans should be expecting
they'll be able to do it again. Can they? Sure. But it's not exactly a
If first place isn't motivation enough, maybe today's opponent will be.
The last time we saw the Flyers play the Rangers, the Orange &
Black suffered their worse loss in years, a 7-0 shellacking. The Flyers
have had trouble handling teams whose playoff lives are nearly
flatlined, losing back to back games against the Thrashers and the
Devils. Today they face a club with a legit chance to either make or
miss the playoffs based on this game and the few that follow. They also
happen to be a potential first-round opponent for the Flyers.
Motivation enough? It'd better be.
Danny Briere is a surprise scratch
with a lower-body injury. No word yet on the adjustments to the lines,
but it could likely mean changes to the trio of Carter-Giroux-Zherdev,
which was the best unit on the ice for the Flyers on Friday. Carter is
too valuable as a center to let one game of chemistry affect that
decision. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to face Henrik Lundqvist in the
nets, and Danny Syvret will be active, bumping Nick Boynton to the press