Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flyers' playoff dreams crumble

Last night the Flyers took on the New York Islanders on Long Island, it was their third meeting of four this season. Goaltender Steve Mason made his debut on Saturday with a perfect 3rd period, 9 shots blocked and last night he got his first chance at starting for the Flyers. This game was a make it or break it opportunity for the Flyers’, as so many games have been recently. The pressure was on for Mason as he defended the goal for a team with a weak defensive line, knowing the importance of this game; he had no room for error last night.  The Flyers were up against a fast offense and strong defense and a team whom they had beaten earlier in the season with a 7-0 shut out. Flyers, with a weakened team due to the amount of players still out with injuries, the remainder of players needed to put up a strong 60 minute battle against the Islanders to come out on top.  
The Flyers came out strong in the first period: maintaining puck control, closing lanes for the Islanders and suffocating their offense. Giroux had a great pass to Voracek for a breakaway goal, as the Flyers took the lead 1-0 early on in the first period. The Islanders continued to push and would finally get a chance to score after a block out for so long and they tied up the game at 1-1. In the first period, Mason stopped 7 of 8 shots made on goal. The Flyers played a full first period.
The second period was a back and forth puck battle, with the Flyers giving the Islanders no opportunities to score early on.  The Flyers had numerous opportunities to score, even some where the puck deflected right in front of the goal but no one was there to score. The Flyers’ plays were not organized and puck control became sloppy. Steven Mason was a brick wall in the net during the second but one goal slipped through at the end putting the Flyers are down 1; 2-1 islanders. The second period was the downfall of the Flyers and it could have gotten better in the third but it did not.
In a game that seemed to have the potential to be turned around by the Flyers, they headed into the third period having the intention but not the means to win the game.  In order for the Flyers to score they would have had to get the puck out of their own danger zone.  Near the end of the third period the Islanders would secure their lead with a goal on Mason. Then a very poor decision by Laviolette, in  hopes to gain two additional points in the last minutes of play he pulled Mason off the ice to give the Flyers a man advantage. If Laviolette would have been watching his team, they were no longer clearing the puck out of their zone when he made the decision to pull Mason. With no defense on the ice for the Flyers, the Islanders easily scored on the empty net, securing a win over the Flyers, 4-1 Islanders.
Although it had seemed the Flyers were on the brink of resurgence, last week was the peak of the season with 4 consecutive wins. The Flyers will fall and settle somewhere at the bottom of the conference rankings well below the 8th seat.  With this weakened team in trouble for the season, there does not look to be much hope for next season either.  Steven Mason was outstanding in the net for the Flyers with several sharp saves, keeping the Flyers alive during much of the game last night. One point of improvement for Mason who is quick to block, his down fall is on the rebound when most of the goals were scored on him.  Mason is an outstanding goaltender but with a weakened defense on the ice often there was no one to help him when he had a rebound puck floating near by. Voarcek had an outstanding break away during the game with an assist by Giroux, they credit this play to awareness and quick thinking, the first period was the first and last time we saw that on the ice last night. Overall, a very disappointing performance, a lot of players are still out due to injury and with only 9 games left in a short period of time there is no hope for any miracles.  Although, Danny Briere practiced with the Flyers on April 8th for the first time since his concussion on March 23rd, they may as well leave him in the injured reserved as this team will not be seeing the play offs this year.  With a disappointing season nearly in the record books the Flyers have a lot of reorganizing to do.  Currently, the Flyers sit in the 12th seat, 5 points out of the play offs. In the next  2 weeks the Flyers are set to take on the Ottawa Senators twice, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins and New York Islanders all teams ranked above them besides the Hurricanes who trail the Flyers by 3 points. 

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