Sunday, April 11, 2010
While it's unfortunate that who went to the playoffs had to be decided in a shootout, the better team won on Sunday as the Flyers outplayed the Rangers in a 2-1 win that clinched the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference for Philly. It was a frustrating game throughout as the Flyers had more shots, hits and scoring chances but trailed for most of the contest after Jody Shelley scored early in the first period for the Rangers. It wasn't until the third period that the Flyers evened it up when Matt Carle scored a power play goal and from there the scoring stopped as the Rangers went into a shell and the Flyers just couldn't beat Henrik Lundqvist.
After a few chances for each team in overtime, it all came down to a shootout, a nightmare scenario for hockey purists. The Rangers had to like their chances with the better goalie and the fact that the Flyers traditionally struggle in shootouts but being better on paper didn't translate today. In the third round of the shootout, Claude Giroux beat Lundqvist and Olli Jokinen was stonewalled by Brian Boucher, clinching the game for the Flyers and sending them to the playoffs:
So, after all the frustration of 82 games of up and down hockey, the Flyers have a new life in the playoffs. Their opponent will be determined shortly depending on the outcome of the Devils/Sabres game, but the Flyers have to feel pretty good about avoiding the Capitals and Penguins in the first round. Sure, they aren't consistent and they have a mediocre goalie but we all know that anything can happen in the playoffs, even an improbable run by a team that barely deserves to be there.
There is nothing in sports quite like playoff hockey; fortunately for us the Flyers played just well enough when it mattered to squeak their way in.