The mantra coming out of the Flyers’ locker room lately has been this: We don’t care who we face in the playoffs, we just want to be on a roll when they arrive.
With goalie Ilya Bryzgalov leading the way, they are in the process of reaching that goal.
The Flyers outlasted the visiting Washington Capitals on Thursday in a shootout, 2-1, and raised their record to 9-2-1 in their last 12 games.
With eight games left in the regular season, the Flyers are fifth in the East, four points behind fourth-place Pittsburgh, and five points ahead of sixth-place New Jersey.
Surging Pittsburgh is one point behind the first-place Rangers in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference races. Should the Penguins finish first in the East _ and the feeling here is that they will _ the Rangers will likely finish fourth and have a first-round matchup against the Flyers.
The Flyers have lost all five games against the Rangers this season. The teams also have an April 3 meeting at the Wells Fargo Center.
For those who think the Flyers would be quick post-season fodder for the Rangers, consider this: Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has only played two games against New York this season, and he is 0-2 with a 4.11 GAA and .869 save percentage.
In other words, he was Old Bryz when he faced the Rangers. But it should be pointed out the Flyers are a different team with New Bryz. In March, he is 9-1-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average and .956 save percentage.
“He’s in a zone right now,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, who scored the game-winner in the shootout. “We know we can rely on him and we’re completely confident in him.”
Which is why we would expect a tight series if the Flyers and Rangers met in the playoffs, despite the one-sided regular season.
Breakaways. Bryzgalov stopped three of the four shootout shots; he has won three of his last four shootouts…… With the game tied at 1-all, Bryzgalov stopped Marcus Johansson on a penalty shot with 7:02 left in the second period….Simmonds is 1 for 6 in shootouts this season and 3 for 11 in his career……Matt Read also scored in the shootout……The Flyers allowed the first goal for the 15th time in the last 20 games…..Former Flyer captain Peter Forsberg was at the game and received loud applause when shown on the scoreboard……Nick Grossmann had a game-high six hits……The line of Max Talbot, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek was the Flyers’ new shutdown unit….Claude Giroux won 9 of 13 faceoffs (69 percent)…..The Flyers are in a 2 for 20 funk on their power play.....The Flyers host lowly Montreal on Saturday night.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.