Flyers looking to clinch essentially-clinched playoff spot in Florida

Flyers looking to clinch essentially-clinched playoff spot in Florida

If the Philadelphia Flyers pick up two points against the sad-sack Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, the orange and black officially clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anything can happen after the puck drops, but not exactly the unlikeliest of scenarios versus the second-worst team in the NHL.

Of course, should the Panthers manage to play the role of spoiler tonight, it’s not like the Flyers don’t have the rest of the week to punch their ticket to the dance. Barring an epic meltdown, Philadelphia’s table in the postseason is already reserved.

The Flyers have a five-point lead and a game in hand over the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs, the two clubs currently on the outside looking in. That means the Bullies would have to lose all four of their remaining games in regulation, and either NJ or TOR would have to win three in a row.

We’re a long ways away from any real drama here.

Of course, a loss in Florida could still be very damaging to Philadelphia. For one, they’re still vying for the second-place finisher in the Metropolitan Division, which would ensure home ice against third place. Given that they’re currently on a collision course with the New York Rangers, and the Flyers can’t seem to buy a win at Madison Square Garden lately, that could wind up mattering quite a bit.

New York is currently in front by two points, though the Flyers have a game in hand. The Rags also own the first tiebreaker at the moment, which would be wins in regulation and overtime, but it’s close—39-37.

The Flyers and Rangers split the season series, so the final tiebreaker would be goal differential, which New York has a substantial lead in.

The Flyers also have to worry about the Columbus Blue Jackets nipping at their heels. Philadelphia holds a two-point lead, which is hardly insurmountable.

If the Blue Jackets manage to oust Philadelphia from third place in the Metro, the orange and black would claim one of the Wild Card spots instead. The end result of that could be okay—the short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins—or it could be devastating—the suffocating Boston Bruins—as far as first-round matchups go.

So, yes, tonight’s points do matter, but we won’t be throwing any parties for the Flyers just because they got into the playoffs. That’s felt like a foregone conclusion for at least the last few weeks.

Right now, the points only seem important insomuch as they could seal Philadelphia’s fate very early on in the tournament.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.