At Midway Point, Talk of Flyers Demise Premature, but Still Waiting for a Spark

At Midway Point, Talk of Flyers Demise Premature, but Still Waiting for a Spark

The Rangers resumed ownership of the Flyers on Tuesday night,
their gritty 4-2 victory launching a brand new winning streak amid a season of
reruns. Philadelphia snapping an eight-game losing streak to New York back in
January looks like a blip on the radar now, a fluke if you will. Orange &
Black is just one for their last 11 versus the Rags.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Tuesday’s loss dropped the
Philadelphia hockey club back below .500. It prevented the Flyers from finally “stringing
together” a few wins for the first time all year. It reinforced notions that this
team is heading no place in particular very quickly in 2013.

We’ve reached the midway point, and the Bullies haven’t been
able to shake that narrative yet, although it’s not entirely fair. You can
easily explain away how they can be 11-12-1 through 24 games. The Flyers got a
bad jump out of the gate by beginning the season 2-6, and you’re probably tired
of hearing it, but opening the schedule with 19 tilts in 34 days made it
difficult to generate any sort of momentum.

Another way of looking at this picture is the Flyers have
gone 9-6-1 since their horrendous start, and they’re 3-2 since the brutal portion
of their slate has ended. If they continue at either pace, they are almost a
lock to reach the postseason.

And then?

Their record isn’t even the most concerning aspect anymore, rather
it’s been their inability to beat certain opponents. It’s nice any time a Philly
team can kick Pittsburgh’s ass with regularity, but that’s almost meaningless
when New York and New Jersey have their number.

The Flyers can’t win like that, not a Stanley Cup, not very
easily anyway. Maybe they’ll get lucky, and somebody else will take care of the
Rangers and Devils come playoff time – hey, there’s a one in four chance they
wouldn’t see either team in the first round, right?

Only that strategy is kind of like walking on to a minefield
without a map or any idea where you’re going or what you might step on.
You can’t assume the Flyers won’t run into either one of last season’s Eastern
Conference finalists once the tournament rolls around. That's not even a strategy.

It might be too soon to count them out anyway. Philadelphia’s
offense is climbing to its rightful permanent home in the NHL’s top 10, and
the power play is becoming flat-out scary, currently sixth-best in the
league. And while Ilya Bryzgalov has faltered a bit of late, he’s shown the
tendency to get white hot for stretches, so much so that he could unexpectedly
carry the Flyers for a month.

All they need it seems is to go on such a run. It can
happen. You could see traces of it building up against Washington and Ottawa before
New York got a hold of them on Tuesday night, or against the Islanders and Pens
a couple weeks back before they slipped up against Florida Panthers.

Until the Flyers can defend themselves against the likes of
New York and New Jersey though, it’s all proverbial wheel-spinning. In any
league, you gotta defeat the good teams to be the good teams. So far, Philly
has come up well short in that regard, even if it’s not too late to ascend to that level quite yet.

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Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before.

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves (see full recap).

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking.

NHL Notes: Capitals acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from Blues

NHL Notes: Capitals acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from Blues

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals have acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in a trade with the St. Louis Blues.

Washington sent a 2017 first-round pick, conditional 2018 second-round pick, forward Zach Sanford and minor leaguer Brad Malone to St. Louis in the deal that also sent former Capitals goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley to the Blues.

The teams announced the deal Monday night.

Shattenkirk, 28, is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has 42 points on 11 goals and 31 assists this season and has 66 goals and 218 assists in 471 NHL games (see full story).

Senators: Alex Burrows acquired from Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Ottawa Senators are gearing up for a push to the postseason, acquiring forward Alex Burrows from Vancouver for prospect Jonathan Dahlen.

The trade gives the Senators a skilled pest with plenty of playoff experience at forward.

Burrows, 35, has played 822 regular-season games with the Canucks, with 193 goals, 191 assists and 1,066 penalty minutes. He has added 19 goals and 15 assists in 70 playoff games.

He had four straight seasons of at least 25 goals from 2008-09 to 2011-12 playing largely with the Sedin twins. His best offensive days are behind him -- he has nine goals in 55 games this season -- but he will still bring an edge to a Senators team that is pressuring Montreal for the top spot in the Atlantic Division (see full story).

Wild: Parise, Pominville out with mumps
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forwards Zach Parise and Jason Pominville have been diagnosed with mumps and must miss at least three games.

The Wild announced Monday, shortly before faceoff against Los Angeles, that Parise and Pominville have the highly contagious virus along with other members of the organization. The veteran wings have been placed in isolation for a five-day period, meaning they'll at least miss games Tuesday at Winnipeg and Thursday at Columbus.

The Wild said players and staff were recently provided with a measles-mumps-rubella vaccination.

Vancouver played Saturday night without five players because of the mumps or symptoms associated with the virus.

With Parise and Pominville out, forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White made their well-timed debuts Monday after being acquired Sunday in a trade with Arizona.