There isn’t much for the Flyers to play for during the remainder of this season. The playoffs, while still mathematically possible, are a long shot. The team currently sits 11 points out of the fourth spot in the MassMutual East Division.
Boston has been on a roll with wins in their last five games. The Rangers are now closer to a playoff spot than Philadelphia, sitting six points out. The Flyers have finished up their series with Boston, meaning they would need other teams help along the way. They play the Rangers two more times, both this week.
While wins in those two games would at least put them in fifth, it would take a lot more to catapult them into a playoff spot at this point in the season. So what exactly is there to play for at this point? And what exactly is the team looking to prove with their last handful of games?
It’s all about pride and going out on a high note. Getting some of their younger players back on track, especially someone like Nolan Patrick, is a start. He is expected to return to the lineup after taking a Phil Myers shot off the ear. Speaking with the media on Tuesday afternoon, Patrick said he did not have any headache issues after the fact.
He was held out of the last two games for precautionary reasons. But he has been skating for a few days and was back practicing with the team on Tuesday. Getting him going down the stretch would be huge for him as he will once again be a restricted free agent after the season.
Going over to Myers next, he is another player that is looking to build his confidence moving forward. Having been in and out of the lineup recently, he mentioned it was tough but he has been trying to stay positive. It’s all about working hard and doing what he needs to do to get back in.
As for what the team needs to do, Myers echoed a similar statement about working hard the rest of the way.
"“We’ve just got to play hard, play well. Play for the Philly culture here. Just stay positive and work hard. And that’s the only thing we can do.”"
It was a similar sentiment that been echoed by both Sean Couturier and Alain Vigneault earlier that afternoon. It’s the time of the year where the team will found out a lot about themselves and what they are made of.
It’s a time for evaluation of what the team has now and what they could have in the future. That future could be looked at soon as Vigneault mentioned we could see some of the Flyers’ younger players get a look.
Wade Allison has been among one of those who has impressed in his limited time. Jackson Cates, recently signed to an entry-level contract, could be another player that we see soon. Tanner Laczynski also looked like he belonged before he went down with an injury.
With the tough circumstances surrounding the team, it’s all about sticking together and continuing to strive for the good results they’ve shown throughout the year.
"“It’s right to say you see the character of guys in tougher times, tougher moments.” Couturier said on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not easy right now so we’ll see how guys respond. Like you said, these times you can evaluate the character of some guys. We’ll see how we respond here.”"
It’s a statement that is not necessarily meant for Couturier himself. He has been one of the Flyers better players this season. Since returning from his rib injury in February, he has only gone 10 games without posting at least a point. In those 32 games, he has 30 points.
He also missed time during that stretch with a hip injury where, according to Couturier, he had a tough time skating the first week or so after returning.
That above statement is something we have heard from a lot of different players this season, though. The concept of showing a response during tough times. Showing that there is still fight left in these Flyers is a big point moving towards the end of the season.
During a year in which the team was expected to contend, it is now about finishing on a high note. If the team can continue to work hard and keep it positive, as Myers said, they should be able to yield some better results moving forward.