VOORHEES, N.J. – The Flyers are not delusional. They can look at the standings and do the math. They know where they stand and can figure out just how challenging it will be to make the playoffs this season.
They are realistic. They know the odds are against them. And yet, maybe that’s what they need to start playing better.
Because, playing with stress, or the pressure of high expectations hasn’t worked at all.
Now, instead, everyone assumes the Flyers are done. Everyone figures the postseason possibilities are as remote as ever.
And ultimately maybe everyone is right, but as far as the Flyers are concerned, maybe now is the time to let loose.
Now is the time to let everything that weighed the team down go. Now id the time to be the underdog without any expectations.
Now is the time to just play hockey.
“There is nothing to lose,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We talked about that a little bit today. We put ourselves in this situation and there’s nothing we can do about it except to prepare to go and play a hockey game and plan to be successful against the Boston Bruins.
“Carrying the stress – I don’t know if it’s going to do any good. We have to focus on what we can control. We can’t change what happened last night. We can’t go back and save one of the goals or try a different move in the shootout to get the other point. It’s over with.”
Sometimes teams tend to play better when there is less pressure. Kimmo Timonen talked about the mounting pressure – especially on young players – and how sometimes that’s the toughest thing to get through.
But, if you take the pressure off and just play the way you know how, it might yield surprising results.
“We don’t want to be one of those teams that people can come in and think they can dominate,” said Scott Hartnell. “That should make us play with some heart and some passion and good things will happen for us.
“Obviously we have to go on a pretty epic run – like Pittsburgh – if we’re going to get in. You got to believe in something though. You got to believe in yourself.”
And the Flyers are going to have to believe in a defense that will have two players who last week were playing with the Adirondack Phantoms and two other defensemen who have shared duties as the No. 7 guy on the unit.
Braydon Coburn did not practice Friday after suffering a left shoulder separation in the second period of Thursday’s game that will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely.
General manager Paul Holmgren did not provide an update on his injury Friday, but the fact that the team recalled defenseman Oliver Lauridsen and placed Coburn on injured reserve suggests the injury is more than just a nagging one.
Lauridsen is a bit of a surprise call up for the Flyers, but one who is an interesting choice.
Reports are that he has played well of late for the Phantoms, as he should with his hulking size.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound d-man has appeared in 59 game for the Phantoms this season, his second with Adirondack, posting a goal and five assists for six points and 77 penalty minutes.
A native of Gentofte, Denmark, Lauridsen, 24, was the Flyers' seventh round pick (196th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He spent three seasons at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota of the WCHA.
“He’s a big guy that can skate,” Laviolette said. “I called down there [to Adirondack] and the reports on him are good. I really liked the game he had [when the Phantoms played] here. He was physical.”
Laviolette said that when a call up is needed, a call is usually placed to the minor league coach asking who is playing well.
That would suggest Phantoms coach Terry Murray felt Lauridesen, who has never played in the NHL, was a better choice than three defensemen on the Phantoms with a combined 640 NHL games played – Andreas Lilja (577), Danny Syvret (59) and Brandon Manning (4).
So, Lauridesen, who will wear No. 38, will make his NHL debut against one of the best teams in the league.
But remember… no pressure.
For if the Flyers can pull off the upset against Boston and get help from two other top Eastern Conference teams, the Flyers can actually get within two points of a playoff spot by Sunday night.
Wins over Boston and Washington coupled with a Pittsburgh victory over the New York Islanders (yes Flyers fans, you have to root for the Penguins) as well as a Montreal win over the New York Rangers will have the Flyers back within two points of a playoff spot with 13 games to play.
Hey, anything is possible … just ask the 99.99 percent of the people who picked Georgetown to beat Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA tournament last week at the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros will undergo surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, effectively ending his season. The surgery will take place April 2.
There was no change to the status of injured players Nick Grossmann (day-to-day, upper body injury) and Danny Briere (out indefinitely, concussion).
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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