After earning a 3-1 win Sunday in Washington, the Flyers are back to work at the Bell Centre to take on the Habs tonight. In the last six games, the Orange and Black have added 11 of a possible 12 points in the standings. Montreal is currently tied with the Detroit Red Wings for second in the East, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning, and are going for the season sweep over Philadelphia. The Flyers have to continue their recent success to just stay in playoff conversation, and tonight could be their biggest test of the season.
Goaltender Steve Mason recently looked in his zone since returning to the lineup, but was unable to get off the ice under his own power in the second period Sunday after a knee injury. Ray Emery replaced him, and an injury to Robb Zepp left Anthony Stolarz as their only backup option.
With the trade deadline approaching, there are a few names going around that could be dealt. Defensemen Brayden Coburn, Mark Streit, and Kimmo Timmonen have all been mentioned as trade bait, and with the youngsters waiting in the wings (Morin, Hagg, and Ghost) it makes sense to move salary cap space. With no one biting on the Vincent Lecavalier sweepstakes because of contract issues, GM Ron Hextall is searching for other options. One name we keep hearing is Evander Kane from Winnepeg, who is already done for the season. The question here is what do the Jets want in return, and is Hextall willing to compensate. We have also heard Brayden Schenn mentioned as a potential trade option.
The Flyers currently find themselves a game over the .500 mark for the first time since November, but now will have to prove even more doubters wrong with Mason out, likely for an extended period. A big answer to that question will be which Ray Emery shows up? I agree a lot of that has to do with what defense will show up to support Razor, but he needs to show some consistency down the stretch. He’s been the backup for the past two years, and this could be his last with his contract expiring after the season. Hopefully, that pays off as an incentive for him to prove himself to the Flyers and the rest of the league for that matter, which could help him land a job next year.
This road swing started off on a good note just like the last one did, but then the Flyers hit a bump in the road. They are in desperation mode at this point and can’t afford another one this late in the season. It’s crucial for them to stay fresh on the ice to help out Emery, especially on the road with two periods of long line changes. My keys to the game will be limiting their trips to the box, and cashing in on the Power Play when given the opportunity.