Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flyers, still lacking consistency, allow Rangers to clinch playoff spot

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
With the NCAA tournament, the beginning of the baseball season and lots of offseason football news, people have likely forgotten that the Flyers are about to begin another playoff run. Entering today, the Flyers had just three games left to play, all against New York teams. While they have already clinched the playoffs, the Flyers are still fighting for the home ice advantage in the first round.

They faced off with the Rangers today and a couple of fluky goals and some lackluster play led to a 2-1 loss to New York. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Rangers, but it didn't hurt the Flyers since the Hurricanes, who are tied with Philly for the 4th spot in the East, also lost. The Flyers have a game in hand over the Hurricanes, so they still control their destiny for home-ice.

Tonight's effort against the Rangers was yet another game where the Flyers didn't bring their "A" game for 60 minutes and were forced to scramble at the end to try to tie up the game. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a hell of a game as he stopped 37 shots and basically willed New York to the win.

The Flyers also made an odd roster move today, signing Colgate defenseman David Sloane to a tryout contract and sticking him directly into the lineup against the Rangers. He is a Philly native who the Flyers brought in under emergency recall conditions to replace Ryan Parent in the lineup. The Flyers couldn't bring up the usual defensemen they call up in this situations, like Danny Syvret or Nate Guenin, due to salary cap issues. Being forced to play a guy like Sloane at this time of the year really speaks to how little depth the Flyers have and how restricted they are with the salary cap.

In other news, Luca Sbisa has finished his junior season and will play for the Phantoms. There is no word yet as to whether he will join the Flyers for the playoffs.

The Flyers seem to be stumbling their way into the playoffs, not the kind of thing they want to be doing if they want to make a playoff run like last season. While it seems pretty likely they will end up with the 4th seed in the East, it's hard to have a lot of confidence in the team when their defense is in shambles and their offense isn't consistent from game to game. Let's hope they have been saving their best hockey for the months of April and May or we could be headed for a quick playoff exit.

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