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Flyers hanging on despite long odds

Carter.jpgPhiladelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings 12:30 p.m. EST - Sunday, April 4, 2010 Live on NBC

I have to admit that I’ve grown a soft spot for the Philadelphia Flyers this season. They could be on their way to heart breaking collapse down the stretch, falling out of the playoffs after working hard to get such good position earlier in the season. The fall hasn’t been (not completely, at least) due to poor play; injuries to several key positions have made success that much harder to come by.

The goaltending. Oh, the goaltending....

The Flyers signed free agent Ray Emery last summer to be the starter, after losing both Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki in the offseason. Unfortunately, Emery was lost for the season after December and the Flyers carousel at goaltender began.

At the trade deadline, the Flyers appeared open to making a move for a goaltender but declined based on the recnt play of Michael Leighton. After all, Leighton had emerged as a legitimate candidate to carry the torch for the Flyers and there was no need to lose vital assets for a goaltender.

Then Leighton was hurt, like lost for the season, and now the Flyers will rely on Brian Boucher. Or Johan Backlund, Jeremy Duchesne, or even Sebastien Caron. Backlund looked promising, for a couple of periods, before even he was hurt. You can’t write this stuff for Hollywood...too outlandish.

Jeff Carter, the warrior

To add insult to the goaltending situation the Flyers leading scorer, Jeff Carter was supposedly lost for the season with a broken bone in his foot. He’s going to reportedly give it a try to return to the ice by the end of the week, based on MRI results, and the fact that he’s trying desperately to play with a broken foot speaks to how dire the Flyers’ situation truly is.

So the goaltending is unreliable and the team is without its top scorer and playmaker. It’s no wonder the team has just two wins out of the last ten games.

What’s amazing is that they have yet to fall out of the playoff race. While the Flyers have struggled, those around them (Boston, Montreal, Atlanta and New York) haven’t taken advantage to overtake them in the standing. Not just yet, at least.

Tied with the NY Rangers at 82 points and barely hanging on to 8th place based on tie breakers, the Flyers are desperate for a win. It’s doubtful the Flyers can manage to hold on to a playoff spot with no goaltending and no reliable scoring.

Even if they do, they’ll just be destroyed by the Capitals in the first round anyways. Right?