Flyers-Capitals: Postgame Perspective

Flyers get much-needed points, still in playoff position as All-Star break hits

With 2:02 to play in regulation, Matt Read took a hooking penalty that spelled the Flyers doom. Against the top-ranked power play, who just happened to be members of the NHL's best team, there was no way the Flyers would survive.

If the Washington Capitals had indeed scored on that power play, it would have potentially led to the Flyers third loss in the final two minutes of regulation in eight days.

It would have only added to the heartbreak of the past week, that watched an incredibly hot start to the new year fade into the distance.

Enter Jake Voracek, who scored just 38 seconds into overtime to give the Flyers a much-needed win and much-needed points as they head to the All-Star break with the playoffs still within reach.

"The play that he made on the game-winning goal, it's a big-time play," head coach Dave Hakstol said of Voracek's game-winning goal. "He's been good. Tonight he was excellent. He gets a little rest now and hopefully that's a sign of things to come when we get back."

As the NHL pushes pause on the season for the rest of the week with the All-Star Game set to take place on Sunday, the Flyers pulled to within five points of a playoff spot.

It's not an ideal position. A week ago, the Flyers were two points out of a playoff spot and had only two teams to surpass in the standings. Now, they are five points out with five teams to catch.

That said, the Flyers are in a considerably better spot than they were a season ago, when they faced similar positioning in the standings, only a steeper climb.

The Flyers were 12 points back at the All-Star break a season ago, going 19-22-7 in their first 48 games. The Flyers are 21-18-8 in 47 games this season.

What makes this season different: the Flyers have games in hand on the teams they need to catch. With the win in Washington, the Flyers essentially kept pace with everyone else.

They trailed Ottawa and Montreal by two points. They have three games in hand on both. They trail Carolina by four points. They have four games in hand. They trail New Jersey by five points. They have three games in hand.

The final wildcard spot belongs to the Penguins. The Flyers trail Pittsburgh by five points as well. They have one game in hand and three more meetings with Pittsburgh this season.

Back to Wednesday's win and what it means for the Flyers. Sure, if they would have held on for those final eight seconds against Toronto or the final 1:54 against Boston, they could have earned at least two points — if not four — and been right in the thick of things. But at the same time, refer to last year, right at the same mark, to see how one particular win was the start of some good things for the Flyers.

"We could have had five or six points out of it and nobody would be surprised," Voracek said. "I'm glad we closed it out today.

"I think over the last two months, we've been playing good hockey. We've found ways to win games. The last three, we found a way to lose the game. We've just have to make sure we keep in the same line, not get too high, not get too low and try to make the playoffs."

The Flyers defeated the Penguins in overtime on Jan. 20, 2015, 3-2, on a goal by captain Claude Giroux. That win followed a stretch of three losses in four games where the Flyers allowed 15 goals. 

The Flyers had a week off from game action, but when they return on Jan. 27, 2015, they started on what would be a three-game winning streak and eight-game point streak out of the break.

The Flyers earned points in 25 of their last 34 games last season. 11 of those games were overtime or shootout losses.

One thing that has been heavily criticized and potentially indicative of their results this season is a very similar roster to last season. Truth be told, the Flyers do have a lot of the same habits.

Simply put, this is the where the Flyers meet the make-or-break point in the season. Last season, they made a run, but left too many extra points on the ice.

That kind of points percentage, points in roughly 70 percent of the games they have remaining, is what it will take to stay in that race. But the winning percentage can't be below .500. The Flyers need to finally display some consistency if they are to make a run.

"I think we like the way we were playing, we just didn't get the results we wanted," Giroux said. "We're playing the right way. We can't get frustrated when we don't get the results. We just have to be patient with it and wait for our chances."

Sometimes all it takes to get back on your feet when everything is crumbling down around you is a dramatic and emotional win. The Flyers got one, just in the knick of time, on Wednesday night.

"It's very important in terms of the two points," Hakstol said. "It's always important to go into a break like this on a positive note and a positive mindset."

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

Go to top button