To make playoffs, Flyers must regain swagger

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

Do you have a pulse? If you don’t, you may have one now.

And if you did prior to Wayne Simmonds’ game-tying goal last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, you may have a heart condition.

The Philadelphia Flyers did nothing to keep the stress levels of themselves and their fans at an even keel in their efforts to earn a critical point in their overtime loss.

They still control their own destiny, but that fate seems like it’s set atop a mountain by not gaining the extra point.

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Flyers-Maple Leafs: Postgame Perspective

Flyers have no excuses for being on brink

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

If this is it for the Flyers, and after their 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, it very well could be, we'll always know the reason why.

The Flyers have excuses to hide behind -- the brutal schedule against playoff teams, the fatigue that comes with countless back-to-backs in the final weeks, injuries (both known and unknown as of tonight) and so on.

But they have no excuses. Being in a prime playoff position with 10 days remaining in the season is not the time to start lacking in effort, and the Flyers slow starts and struggles throughout games to teams of varying talent is no excuse for playing as poorly as they have.

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Flyers mount comeback, but fall to Maple Leafs in overtime

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

Suddenly, the Flyers playoff hopes, which one week ago looked so likely, are on life support.

A similar start led to another insurmountable deficit for the Flyers, this time against the NHL's worst team. The Toronto Maple Leafs struck for two first-period goals. The Flyers managed a third-period rally, but fell on a power-play goal by Jake Gardiner in overtime, 4-3, on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers now need wins in each of their last two games, or a lot of help from the Bruins or Red Wings, or their playoff chances are gone for good. 

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Flyers-Red Wings: Game 79 Preview

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

They are all playoff games for the Flyers, but Wednesday night's game might as well be the Super Bowl.

For two playoff hopefuls yet to lock in a spot, Wednesday night is a head-to-head showdown that will have one team on the cusp of clinching and another on the bubble. The Philadelphia Flyers (39-26-13) have played well to get to this point, but wear and tear start to set in soon enough. With four games in the final five days of the season, this is where they must dig deep.

The Detroit Red Wings (40-28-11) are looking to extend a 24-year playoff streak that defines the history of the Original Six franchise. Missing the playoffs for this team isn't an option given that history, and with home ice and three games to go, they will be extra motivated to take care of business.

Faceoff between the Flyers and Red Wings is set for 8 p.m.

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Ouellette, Phantoms down Hartford for 2nd straight win

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

After snapping an eight-game winless streak on Friday night, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have found the winning touch, at least that's what it feels like.

On Saturday night, they turned in another solid performance and claimed a 2-1 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack at PPL Center.

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Playoff aspirations bring Wells Fargo Center back to life

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

A full-throated crowd truly is an advantage for the home team. Philadelphia has long been known as city with passionate, almost rabid fans who are so invested in their teams it's scary. Veterans Stadium had a court during Eagles games for goodness sake. 

Flyers fans fit that mold. They are passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable. They don't demand perfection as long as the effort is there. They expect the team to play as hard as this blue collar town works. 

For the past season plus, the rabid and full-throated atmosphere has been, for lack of a better term, missing.  That was until Tuesday night. Those knowledgeable and passionate fans had the Wells Fargo Center rocking in what was the most important home game of the season to that point.

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Flyers-Red Wings: Postgame Perspective

Flyers close the gap to one with crucial win

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Photo: Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

As the playoff race carries on and draws closer to the end of the season, it is all in the points for the Flyers. And after Saturday, who knew how important that one point lost in the shootout would really be.

When the Detroit Red Wings lost on Sunday night, it was clear, the Flyers could draw to within striking distance if they handled the task at hand: beat the Red Wings on Tuesday in regulation. It was sure to be a playoff atmosphere.

It took almost everything the Flyers had in them, but mission accomplished, as the Flyers claimed a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night. The Flyers have the path to the final spot. Now, they just have to take what got them into this position and carry into the final four weeks of the season.

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Flyers battle hard in victory over Detroit

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Photo courtesy of Steve Kuzma

It was a game the Flyers had to have if they are going to make the playoffs. Michael Raffl scored a pair of goals, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere also scored and, despite a late push by the Red Wings, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated Detroit 4-3 on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Michael Raffl put the Flyers ahead at 5:41 of the first period. Raffl came down the wing and made a nice move in tight for his 11th goal of the season. Nick Schultz and Mark Streit picked up the assists. 

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Phantoms drop 4th straight in loss to Hartford

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Photo: Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

The day started with some minor roster shuffling for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Anthony Stolarz was needed as the Flyers emergency backup, leaving Jason LaBarbera to start in goal for the first time since Feb. 12.

The Phantoms provided some early offense, but couldn't sustain it as a 2-0 lead turned into a 4-2 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday afternoon from XL Center.

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Flyers-Lightning: Postgame Perspective

Gostisbehere, top line lead way as Flyers pass huge test in win

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Photo: Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

When you look across the board at the scoresheet, the big names stand out. Giroux, Simmonds, Schenn, Gostisbehere.

The four players the Flyers have seemingly relied on the most this season brought their best on Monday night. And the one who has delivered more times than most rookies usually do stole the show again.

Monday's game was as big a test as the Flyers have faced in several weeks. The Tampa Bay Lightning came in with a nine-game winning streak, four lines of scoring depth and really unfathomable records when they get the edge. The Flyers overcame it all and passed with flying colors.

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