Friday, April 4, 2008

Flyers defeat Devils, Clinch Playoffs!

The Flyers have clinched the playoffs! They defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-0 today, and that victory coupled with the Carolina Hurricanes losing to the Florida Panthers assured the Flyers of a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Tonight's game had all the feel of a playoff game, with a packed Wachovia Center making a ton of noise and the Flyers playing inspired hockey. Martin Biron shut the door on the Devils, stopping 22 shots as he out-dueled Martin Brodeur, who the Flyers chased from the game after their third goal midway through the 3rd period. Offensively, the Flyers got goals from Joffrey Lupul, Scottie Upshall and R.J. Umberger. The Flyers played with high energy, making big hits and hustling all over the ice.

The playoff berth completes the Flyers' amazing turnaround from worst team in the league to legitimate contender. While it would have been nice to see them earn a higher seed, it would be unrealistic to expect too much more from a team that has so many new players and young players trying to learn to play together. Everything was clicking in tonight's game, so this could be the start of a great run. None of the higher ranked teams will want to play the Flyers, who play the type of hockey where if they don't win, they will at least beat you up and wear you down.

The Flyers currently sit in the 8th seed in the East, but if they win their final game against the Penguins on Sunday, they would move past the Ottawa Senators and into the 7th seed. Their opponent will either be the Penguins or Canadiens, who remain tied atop the conference. The Flyers don't match up well with either team, but they do have a long history with the Pens and they know how to get under their skin.

No matter what happens in the playoffs, we should be ecstatic that the Flyers have turned things around so quickly. Many hockey teams get stuck at the bottom of the league and go years without making the playoffs, but the Flyers stormed right back after one terrible season. Things will only get better with this team, so we should all enjoy the ride.

Highlights of the game courtesy of Comcast SportsNet:

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