NBC’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Saturday afternoon when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Rangers with a playoff spot on the line. You can catch all of the action on NBC at 3 p.m. ET or on our Live Stream.
For the Philadelphia Flyers it is all very simple: Gain at least one point against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon and go to the playoffs.
Fail to gain a point? Well, then they have to wait and hope that the Florida Panthers don’t win two games in a row on Saturday and Sunday. Lose by exactly two goals? Then you leave open the possibility of chaos happening and a potential play-in game tiebreaker on Tuesday if the Panthers win two games in a shootout.
The latter situation seems highly unlikely, but the Flyers should at least feel pretty good about the opportunity in front of them on Saturday afternoon, especially when you consider where they were earlier this season. After missing the playoffs a year ago the Flyers stumbled early this season and at point dropped 10 games in a row in late November and early December. Usually a 10-game losing streak is enough to completely sabotage a season.
Not the case with the Flyers.
Since snapping that losing streak on Dec. 4 the Flyers have put together one of the best records in the league, going 33-15-7 (sixth most points in the league) in the 55 games since to climb back into playoff contention. They enter play on Saturday having gained a point in nine of their past 10 games.
The biggest factor in the Flyers’ turnaround has been the play of their top trio of forwards — Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier. All three are among the NHL’s top-30 scorers, while Giroux has played his way into the Hart Trophy discussion with a career year offensively.
He enters play on Saturday just one point shy of what would be his first 100-point season in the NHL.
Couturier, always one of the league’s top defensive forwards, has had a breakout year offensively that has seen him nearly double all of his personal career highs to become one of the top two-way centers in the league.
Now all they have to do on Saturday is get one point against a Rangers team that has won just two of its past 10 games.