The Philadelphia Flyers had a chance to move above the .500 mark, had a chance to climb within the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference. It didn’t happen Monday, however as the Flyers dropped a 4-2 loss to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
It marked the Flyers’ second loss in the month of February to Toronto. The Flyers are three games away from the midway point of this lockout shortened season, and the journey toward a post-season position is becoming more and more dire every day.
“We’re not going to make the playoffs if we keep playing like this,” Flyers Scott Hartnell told CSN Philly. “We talked about it after the game.
“If we don’t learn fast, as in Wednesday night [against Washington], it’s going to be a long season.
“Guys have to realize, every point counts…Game 20 or Game 30. We have to wake it up.”
Their opponents from Toronto, meanwhile, continue to occupy a playoff spot. The Leafs sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, and have won seven of their last 10 games, opening up a five-point cushion on the eighth-place Tampa Bay Lightning.
The motivation for Toronto’s effort in Philadelphia was a dramatic and disappointing 3-2 loss to their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators, on Saturday.
“For us it was about flushing what happened, the scar from the other night,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle told NHL.com. “We wanted to make sure we could flush that with our effort. You have to give our guys credit, they battled. They came in and went toe to toe with a pretty good hockey team over there.”
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.