End of the Line
Monday, 04.17.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Voorhees, NJ – With one game remaining in the regular season, there are no less than 27 possible outcomes to determine who Philadelphia's first round opponent will be when the NHL playoffs start this weekend.
That being said, the Flyers would like to finish their regular season on Tuesday in New York against the Islanders on a positive note and then prepare for whichever team they match up with in their 11th straight postseason.
"We would like to finish first in our division, but after that it doesn't really matter if you're eighth, or seventh, or first," said Petr Nedved. "You start from scratch and it really matters how you play in the games after that. It would be nice to get first, but that's not what's going to count in the playoffs."
"I think whenever you get this close to the playoffs your mind really isn't…as much as you think it is, ever really is at the right place because you're looking forward to playoffs so much," said Robert Esche. "Right now, I think that's evident with us. We're all excited. We've been gearing up for the playoffs no matter where we finish."
One thing that is certain is the team will face the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers or Buffalo Sabres when the playoffs begin. The dates, times and locations all have yet to be determined.
Philadelphia will try to rebound from a seesaw weekend, which saw them post an impressive 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Saturday before a disheartening 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Devils on Sunday.
While the Flyers would like to play better headed into the postseason, even that may be overrated. After all, in 2004, the Flyers won just one of their last five games in the regular season yet still came to within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals.
"You see the one game here and one game there, and we're not happy about that, but it's not like we've had a string of road games or home games to get things together," said Esche. "We've kind of been bouncing all around against some pretty good hockey clubs."
"I think you have to address first the way you play. I don't think you can build momentum through the playoffs unless you act and play the right way," said Hitchcock. "I think that's the bottom line. If you're inconsistent during the regular season, that usually pops up in the playoffs. If you're a hard-working team and you keep competing, those are the teams that get rewarded at the end."
Despite the up-and-down month, the Flyers are still on the verge of gaining at least 100 points in the standings. Keith Primeau, who continues to practice with the club, finds that an impressive feat.
"Personally, I never saw a team that's going to get 100 points take as much heat as this group of guys has. There are a lot of new faces and you can call it excuses if you want, but I call it more a learning curve than anything," said Primeau.
"The adversity that we have faced throughout the year is going to bode well for us in the playoffs. I don't have a crystal ball and can't tell you what's going to happen, but they are ready for this. It's about winning playoff hockey games and playoff rounds. I'm going to enjoy watching these guys perform."
Forsberg Questionable for Tuesday
Peter Forsberg was among the Flyers that did not skate on Monday at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone, and is not sure if he will play on Tuesday. Forsberg left warm-ups on Sunday with a groin injury after playing against the Rangers on Saturday.
"It's a big game on Tuesday, so I'd like to play. If there's a chance to play, I'll play," said Forsberg.
The Flyers center is prepared to play through any possible discomfort in the playoffs should it arise.
"You play through pain in the playoffs and you do whatever it takes to get out there and play," he said.
Esche will start the season finale on Long Island. … Ben Eager was recalled from the Phantoms on Monday. The Flyers' AHL affiliate missed the playoffs and ended its season on Saturday.