As of this morning, the Flyers chances of making the playoffs were only 7.1%. Now, after another tough win against a quality opponent, the Flyers are now only 2 points out from the Boston Bruins to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Today’s nationally televised game was originally scheduled for the 3pm prime time slot on NBC. Most likely due to the Flyers current lack of appeal to a national audience, the game was pushed to a 12:30pm start time. NBC better think twice next time as the Flyers are notorious for always keeping things interesting and should always have a national appeal to die hard hockey fans.
The Flyers, always up for late game heroics, defeated the rival Washington Capitals 3-2 on a Michael Del Zotto goal with just over 4 minutes left in regulation.
Rob Zepp got the start in net today after playing in yesterday’s shootout win over the Predators. Speculation before the game was that Ray Emery would start as the team hadn’t had a full 24 hours of rest in between games. However, Flyers coach Craig Berube stuck with the hot hand and Zepp delivered in a big way.
Zepp came up big today after stopping 21 of 23 shots including many point blank and breakaway opportunities for the Caps. Zepp was asked after the game if he was surprised he was starting in back to back games:
“No,” he said. “You just have to be ready if there is a possibility. Anything can happen, I could play both I could play none of them. You just have to be ready and when they told me I was playing I was very excited. ”
The game started off chippy as Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo was called for an elbowing 2-minute minor penalty although it appeared as if he never made contact with the Capitals player. Later on in the 2nd period, Rinaldo was called for a 5-minute fighting penalty when he hadn’t even dropped his gloves to initiate a fight. After the game, Rinaldo was asked if his reputation was most likely the cause of both questionable penalties:
“Oh yeah, totally,” he said. “I was [upset] that I got those penalties, because if it was me in that position I probably would have been thrown out.”
Today was a big day not only for Flyers fans but hockey fans in general. More specifically American hockey fans. It was on this day 35 years ago the United States men’s hockey team pulled off perhaps the greatest upset in Olympic history. On February 22nd, 1980, the United States defeated the Soviet Union in “The Miracle on Ice” and then went on to beat Finland to win the gold medal.
The United States team was viewed as a heavy underdog filled with amateur hockey players and went on to beat the Soviet team made up of pros. In many ways, the Flyers and Philadelphia as a city have always been viewed as underdogs in sports. Perhaps on the 35th anniversary of the United States defeating the Soviets in Lake Placid, the Flyers can be that team who no one expects to defy the odds.
The Flyers are 8-1-4 in their last 13 games dating back to Jan. 20 vs. Pittsburgh, having gathered 20 of a possible 26 points since then. Ten of those 13 games have been one-goal games, and the Flyers are 6-0-4 in those.
Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux promised fans last season that the team will make the playoffs even when most people had already counted them out. This team never quits. The last couple of weeks have shown that the Flyers can flip a switch at the right time and sneak into the playoffs. Hockey, like football, proves that as long as you can sneak into the playoffs, it’s any team’s championship to win. As the weeks draw nearer to the end of the regular season, keep an eye on the Flyers. They could be the team to watch moving forward. Do you believe in miracles?