Flyers try to start playoff push vs. Devils

Philadelphia Flyers' Scott Hartnell, left, runs into the elbow of New Jersey Devils' Bryce Salvadore during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

One day after GM Paul Holmgren ripped the team at a meeting and in the press, the Flyers need to start their playoff push when they host the New Jersey Devils Friday night.

The Devils have had the Flyers’ number. After losing the opening game in last year’s playoffs against the Flyers, they won four straight, and they have won all three meetings this year, outscoring the Orange and Black, 13-5.

The Flyers, losers of four of their last five ganes, are five points out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 20 games left. Making matters more difficult is the fact they have played more games than most of the teams battling for playoff positions.

Winger Matt Read and defenseman Andrej Meszaros are still rounding into form after returning from injuries. The Flyers desperately need them to return to their old selves if they are going to make a playoff push.

They also need goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to revert to his early-season form. In six March games, Bryzgalov has a 3.42 goals-against average and .873 save percentage.

Bryzglaov has not had much help as the team’s defense has been mistake-prone in recent games, especially in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss in New Jersey, a game in which the Flyers allowed a slew of odd-man rushes.

If Bryzgalov starts Friday it would be his 27th in the Flyers' 29 games. (May be a good time to give Michael Leighton a start?)

Schenn returning. Defenseman Luke Schenn, who missed Wednesday's loss in New Jersey because of the flu, took part in Friday's morning skate and will play tonight.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.