Playoff Chances and "Do the Lavy Shake" | Rangers, Flyers Tonight 7:30 >
 
 

by Michael DeNicola


Tuesday, March 26, 2013 --



Nicklas Grossmann was absent once again at morning skate, leading everyone to believe he'll miss his second consecutive contest with an upper-body injury. We're looking at blue liner Kurtis Foster to fill in for #8, who did an average job in our zone against the Penguins on Sunday night. 


Still, you'd much rather see Grossmann lace up the skates over Foster; especially when you consider the magnitude of the remaining schedule and what it means to our Playoff chances. 


Speaking of injuries -- Daniel Briere is officially out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. The 35-year old veteran has been rumored to be a part of several trade rumors of late, despite his contract boasting a strict no-movement clause. Until his health is well enough to get him off the IR shelf, you can put those trade rumors to bed.


Briere, along with what seems to be the rest of the team, has had an agonizing season thus far. Some would credit his struggles to being bumped from a center position and slotted in the right-wing spot. Others, like myself, will tell you he continually weens himself from relevance on this roster on a game-by-game basis. Nevertheless, he won't be suiting up in tonight's tilt versus the Broadway Blueshirts, so there's no real reason to embark on a Briere witch hunt at this time. 



Getting back to this morning's practice, Dave Isaac, from the Courier-Post, tweeted the forward line combinations not so long ago --


Tye McGinn, who was recalled by the big club on Monday evening, will be making his first start since February 25 when the Maple Leafs were welcomed in to the Wells Fargo Center and skated away with a 4 - 2 victory over the Flyers.


In that match, McGinn suffered a broken orbital bone at the ferocious fists of Dave Brown (since traded to the Edmonton Oilers). Tonight, Tye will be skating alongside Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux from the frontal assault. It's a surprising, yet unsurprising move from Laviolette....


Just this Sunday evening, Matt Read took the left-wing spot on the first forward combination. Granted, the blend of talent never paid off in any 5-on-5 situation, but they deposited a handful of legit scoring chances. Breaking up that combo and sticking McGinn to Giroux's left is a head-scratching decision by Laviolette. Then again, we know our head coach shuffles the hodgepodge like an ADHD child playing with his GI Joe action figures. Which leads me to....


Scott Hartnell doesn't exactly deserve to remain demoted in the bottom six, but I wouldn't be so quick to stick him with the top tier line either. Assigning him to the second line combo seems like a logical move at this stage in the season, however given his performance with linemates Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo on Sunday, I would have thought twice before splitting them up. 


Rinaldo, Talbot and Hartnell were thrown together on a line against the Penguins, and I thought they were quite the energetic bunch. Recently, Talbot's shown flashes of some pretty dirty offensive production, Rinaldo has been continuously impressing me with his disciplined, "never give up" efforts, and the two skaters blended well with Hartnell's perimeter and slot presence. But once again, we're forced to endure Laviolette's line shuffling, aka "The Lavy Shake"....


D-d-d-do the Lavy Shake?




Franchise netminder Ilya Bryzgalov will be making his 30th start of the season tonight between the pipes. Bryz put in a brilliant outing versus the Pens, stopping 33 or 35-shots, awarding him with a .943 save percentage. He had kept Pittsburgh off the board until the latter half of Sunday's third period when the Flyers went on a 5-on-3 disadvantage, thanks to a Wayne Simmonds slashing penalty and then Kimmo Timonen charged with a hooking call just a minute into the penalty-kill. Sidney Crosby lit the equalizing power-play lamp, and Tyler "Pig Face" Kennedy deposited the OT game-winning goal. 


Regardless of the overtime loss, it's quite obvious that Bryzgalov will need to consistently string performances like this together through the 17 remaining games on the schedule. 


Tonight's battle against the Rangers starts Philadelphia's five-game homestand (NYR 03/26, NYI 03/28, BOS 03/30, WSH 03/31, MON 04/03). The good news? Philadelphia is currently 9-4-1 at home this season, versus their pitiful 4-12-1 road record. 


As much as I genuinely loathe Flyers beat writer Frank Seravalli, the dude did the math and figured that the Flyers have a chance at the Playoffs if they go 11-4-2, 11-5-1, 10-5-2, or (at worst) 9-4-4 the rest of the way (all counting their 1-point overtime demise against Pittsburgh). 


We may have complained about the aggressively compact schedule through the first half of the Flyers schedule, and that recent six-day hiatus did nothing to help either, but considering the revolving circumstances, Philadelphia's made out like bandits getting this five-game stretch of contests in our barn. 


Let's hope that positive home record pays forward. 


"We've got five home games coming up - this is our week," Timonen said on Monday at Skate Zone. "We got to get some wins together. If you look at the last two games, I think we played pretty good. Tampa Bay, we played pretty well and didn't get the result. Last night we battled hard and didn't get the results but now we're coming home and now it's the time to get some wins. Everybody knows the standings. It's everywhere. I can't deny I am not looking at the standings. To me, my personal message to the guys is: 'It is still in our hands. We can control our destiny.' 


"This week coming up is huge for us. And it starts [Tuesday] with the Rangers in the eighth spot. That is a huge game."



Right now, the Flyers (28-points) stand only five tallies outside of the eighth seeded position in the Conference. In front of them are Carolina (32-points), Washington (31-points), NY Islanders (31-points) and Buffalo (30-points). 


Before the end of the season, we play each of those clubs at least once more, giving us some chance to climb the contending ladder.


More good news? The Rangers have had their own fair share of misery this season, barely sitting in that eighth seeded positioning, and having gone 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They're more than a beatable adversary, we know this. We just gotta hope our boys discard the negative voodoo that surrounds us and this rivalry. 



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