The Flyers capped off their regular season today with a tough 6-5 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in an overtime shootout. Carolina completed their season sweep against the Flyers winning all four games the teams played. However, in a game that had no bearing on the standings or their playoff position, the Flyers were able to fight their way back into a game where they were losing 4-1 early in the second period.
After a Manny Malhotra goal put the Hurricanes up 4-1, the Flyers came roaring back to score three goals all within three and a half minutes of each other and two within only 10 seconds of each other. Carolina looked to have the game in their pocket after Jeff Skinner’s second goal of the game late in the third period, but once again, the Flyers refused to quit as Wayne Simmonds stuffed the puck in the back of the net on a second chance opportunity with nine seconds left in regulation.
Even though the Flyers couldn’t complete the comeback today, their sheer toughness and heart should be something their first round opponent New York Rangers should be concerned with as the series gets under way. Game 1 of this best of seven series begins Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers have struggled in their last handful of games at the Garden being outscored 31-9 dating back to 2011. Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux spoke about what it will take to beat the Rangers:
“We’ve got to have a lot of energy,” Giroux said. “We’re a young team, we’re still learning and we’re having fun out there. When we have fun we’re a dangerous team. We’ve had a hard time with the Rangers this year, but we’re ready to go.”
Giroux came through on his promise way back in October when he said the team will make the playoffs after their rough 1-7-0 start to the season.
The Flyers will be hoping their starting goaltender Steve Mason will be ready for Game 1 in New York this Thursday. Mason suffered an “upper body injury” in Saturday’s win against the Pittsburgh Penguins when his neck was snapped backwards after Penguins’ forward Jayson Megna checked Flyers’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald into Mason towards the end of the second period.
Rookie goaltender Cal Heeter made his NHL debut in today’s game after being recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, following the Mason injury.
While the Flyers look to get their star goaltender back for Game 1, they may be without one of their star offensive players for the start of the playoffs. Scott Hartnell got into an altercation with Carolina’s Brett Bellemore in the third period and ended up spearing him. This drew a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. There’s no doubt the NHL will take a closer look at this play to see if a suspension is warranted. Hartnell spoke of the play after the game:
“I was going to the net and got slashed on the wrist,” Hartnell said. “I turned around, I stuck the guy, and there was a bit of a melee. Obviously, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, especially going into the playoffs.”
On a positive note, the Flyers will be getting their resident tough guy, Zac Rinaldo, back for the start of the playoffs after he finished serving a four-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Buffalo Sabres’ defenseman Chad Ruhwedel last week.
The Flyers finished off their roller coaster of a season with a 42-30-10 record which was good enough for 6th place in the Eastern Conference and 3rd place in the newly formed Metropolitan Division.
As the Flyers head into the playoffs, barely sneaking in and having to play an opponent that has been tough to beat over recent years, the NHL more than any other sport has proven that all you have to do is get in and anything can happen.