Flyers looking for ways to keep top seed in the East

Kimmo Timonen says the bad times help players grow up.
Kimmo Timonen says the bad times help players grow up.
Posted: April 05, 2011

Despite sputtering down the stretch, the Flyers are in the proverbial driver's seat with three regular-season games remaining.

Will they get to the finish line ahead of Washington in the Eastern Conference and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division?

If they do, they'll have to start their final push without three injured regulars: Danny Briere, who has 32 goals, penalty-killing whiz Blair Betts and star defenseman Chris Pronger.

The Flyers, losers of three straight and six of their last eight games, play in Ottawa on Tuesday night against the lowly Senators.

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the Flyers' skid isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"If you don't go through any bad times, how are you going to grow up?" he said.

Ottawa has been eliminated from playoff contention, but the Flyers have won just six of their last 13 games against teams out of a playoff position.

Ottawa should be just the type of opponent the Flyers need to get untracked.

Should be.

The Senators, who have the NHL's lowest goals total, are tied with Florida for the fewest points in the East, and they have the conference's worst home record at 14-20-5.

"We're in a good spot," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We should just go slow with it before we talk about winning three games. We should just make sure we win one game [first] and really make sure our efforts are concentrated on what's going to be a tough game in their building."

Breakaways. The Flyers recalled Ben Holmstrom from Adirondack, where he had 16 goals. . . . Ville Leino was upset he was used sparingly in Sunday's third period and said he wanted to "work hard and show [Laviolette] I'm worth the ice time at the end." Said Laviolette: "Ville is a very important part of the team. I'm sure he'll have a monster game" Tuesday.


Flyers' playoff possibilities

With the final week of the NHL's regular season under way, it appears the Flyers will finish first or second in the Eastern Conference, which could match them against Montreal (a long shot), Buffalo, the New York Rangers or Carolina in the first round.

The Flyers have three games left, and their magic number for clinching the Atlantic Division is three points. They are assured of capturing the conference if they win all three games.

The Flyers have a three-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic. They are tied with Washington atop the East, but the Flyers have the tiebreaker (most non-shootout wins).

If the Flyers were to finish first in the East, they would face the No. 8 seed. The No. 2 seed would play No. 7.

Here are the schedules of the teams chasing the Flyers - and those who could face them in the first round:

Flyers: At Ottawa Tuesday; at Buffalo Friday; vs. New York Islanders Saturday.

If the Flyers don't sweep, the Caps have an easy schedule and could slide past them.

Capitals: At Toronto Tuesday; vs. Florida Wednesday; at Florida Saturday.

They are playing much better than the Flyers, but they do not control their own destiny.

 Penguins: Vs. New Jersey Tuesday; at Islanders Friday; at Atlanta Sunday.

They need a lot of help to capture the Atlantic.

Canadiens: Vs. Chicago Tuesday; at Ottawa Thursday; at Toronto Saturday.

The Habs would need a major collapse to miss the playoffs.

Rangers: Vs. Boston on Monday; vs. Atlanta Thursday; vs. New Jersey Saturday.

They hope home cooking helps them avoid having their playoff hopes determined by the last game. Again.

Sabres: Vs. Tampa Bay Tuesday; vs. Flyers Friday; at Columbus Saturday.

Rookie goalie Jhonas Enroth has kept Buffalo alive with Ryan Miller out.

Hurricanes: Vs. Detroit Wednesday; at Atlanta Friday; vs. Tampa Bay Saturday.

Sunday's OT loss to Buffalo, coupled with a tough schedule, probably spells doom for Carolina.

- Sam Carchidi


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull

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