Flyers Storylines: With 10 games left, no margin for error

Flyers Storylines: With 10 games left, no margin for error
April 7, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Ten games.

That's all the Flyers have left as they make their final push for a playoff spot. They will play five of their remaining 10 games on the road and five in the comforts of the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers entered Sunday's action sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind the seventh-seeded New York Rangers and eighth-seeded New York Islanders.

At this juncture, the Flyers have left themselves with virtually no margin for error and can't afford to throw away anymore valuable points that are up for grabs. They need every possible point they can get.

With that in mind, here are a few storylines we're going to be keeping an eye on this week.

More of Mason?
Newly-acquired netminder Steve Mason made his Flyers debut on Saturday after Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Mason played the final 20 minutes -- stopping all nine shots fired his way -- but how much more of the 24-year-old will we actually see over the last 10 games of the season?

Bryzgalov has been a workhorse for the orange and black this season, starting 36 of the team's 38 games, but has allowed 14 goals in his last four contests combined.

Should Bryzgalov's shaky play continue or the Flyers fall out of playoff contention, the team will most likely want to get a good look at what Mason can bring to the table moving forward.

Mason is still getting accustomed to the Flyers' defensive schemes and seems eager to start fresh in Philadelphia.

It's unclear how much ice time the 2008-09 Calder Trophy winner will get, but it is certainly something worth keeping an eye on.

Key contributions
Before their crushing loss to the Jets, the Flyers won a season-best four games in a row.

A major reason why the Flyers were able to put that streak together was because of contributions from several players who had been struggling offensively this season.

Take Ruslan Fedotenko for example. The veteran forward had two goals and two assists during the Flyers' win streak after tallying just nine points in his previous 33 games. The 34-year-old even extended his points streak to five games with the Flyers' lone tally in Saturday's loss.

What about second-year center Sean Couturier? The 20-year-old went 15 consecutive games without a point before registering an assist in the Flyers' 3-1 win over Boston last week. He tallied a goal and four helpers during the four-game winning streak and has looked much more confident since busting out of his slump.

It's not all about offense, either. Veteran defenseman Kent Huskins has looked solid on the blue line since joining the Flyers. The 33-year-old has 13 blocked shots and two hits in his four games with the orange and black and has proved to be a dependable option at the fifth or sixth defenseman position.

With all of the injuries the Flyers have sustained this season, they will need to have continued production from their role players if they want to squeeze into the postseason.

That's the Flyers' record with rookie defenseman Oliver Lauridsen in the lineup.

The 24-year-old has played well since being called up from the Adirondack Phantoms. He even collected his first NHL point with an assist on Simon Gagne's goal against Montreal on Wednesday.

Lauridsen has shown a good physical edge to his game, registering 12 hits in his five contests with the Flyers, and has used his 6-6, 220-pound frame to his advantage in front of his own net.

Sure, Lauridsen has made a few mistakes, overcommitting at times, but the blue liner has been a pleasant surprise for the injury-depleted defensive corps.

Lauridsen was a minus-3 against the Jets, so it should be interesting to see how he responds to his worst game as an NHLer when the Flyers take on the Islanders on Tuesday.