No time to relax for playoff-bound Flyers

Posted: April 11, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. - One day after they clinched a playoff berth, the Flyers said they were hardly satisfied.

Their goal: overtaking the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division and gaining the home-ice advantage in the first playoff round.

If the Flyers finish second or third, they almost definitely would face New York in the playoffs.

If the Flyers were to slip behind Columbus and fall to the first wild-card position, they would oppose Pittsburgh in the playoffs. They would meet dreaded Boston if they were to drop to the second wild card.

In other words, they have a lot of incentive to win their last three games - in Tampa Bay on Thursday, in Pittsburgh on Saturday, and against visiting Carolina on Sunday.

"Obviously, we don't want to go for the wild-card spot because you have Boston or Pittsburgh waiting for you there," right winger Jake Voracek said after Wednesday's practice at the Tampa Times Forum.

The Flyers clinched their 37th playoff berth in their 45-season history with an inartistic 5-2 win in Florida on Tuesday.

"I'm really happy we made the playoffs, but you move forward," veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "You try to get home ice. The better you play these last three games, it's better for the playoffs. You can't relax now because you made the playoffs. It's a great accomplishment for our team . . . but now we have to win [Thursday] and move on, and then win Saturday and win Sunday."

Timonen, 39, who played for Finland in the Olympics, was asked how he felt at this point in a long season.

"Old," cracked teammate Scott Hartnell from a nearby locker.

Timonen smiled.

"Well, obviously at 39, you feel old sometimes. That's the truth," Timonen said.

"It's been a long year with the Olympics and the travel and time change, but it's past and now we have three games left and we're in the playoffs, which was my goal," added Timonen, who has five goals, 33 points and a plus-8 rating. "Now is not the time to relax. We have to move forward in every game.

Timonen, arguably the Flyers' best defenseman this season, said he was "excited about this time of the year, and excited about going to the payoffs and having a chance to compete for the Cup." In the offseason, he will decide whether he will play another year.

Coach Craig Berube would like to give Timonen a rest before the playoffs, but that may not be possible because of the race for second place.

"If there's a chance to take a game off, we'll see, but right now I'm just focusing on [Thursday] and the two games this weekend," Timonen said.

Timonen is relatively healthy. He said he didn't want to talk about his good health because "that's usually bad karma, and then you block a shot and have a broken ankle."


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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