It appears that Philadelphia’s plan to tank the first half the of the season only to rise up for an attempted epic comeback into a playoff spot has all but failed.
Mathematically, the Flyers aren’t dead in the water, but soul-sucking losses like the one they endured on Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs sting so much more at this time of the year.
The Flyers held a 5-2 lead midway through the second period in Toronto when the wheels began to fall off, followed by the transmission right before the engine blew to pieces. The Maple Leafs scored five unanswered to take a 7-5 lead and then held on as James van Riemsdyk‘s hat-trick goal gave the Flyers some time to find an equalizer late. It would never come.
That’s a tough pill to swallow, evidenced by how hard the Flyers choked in this game. Scoring six goals should be an automatic win. Of course, allowing seven should be an automatic loss.
The Flyers sit seven points back of the Carolina Hurricanes (who lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets. They began the night there, but with 11 games remaining instead of 12 now, the chances to make up seven points in the span are incredibly slim (like two percent slim). And their schedule isn’t a walk in the park, with dates with the Penguins, Capitals, Islanders and Maple Leafs coming up in the near future.
Toronto, meanwhile, pulled themselves to within two points of the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic. The teams are destined to play each other in the first round at this point, but the battle for home-ice advantage is heating up down the stretch here.
Toronto nearly came back from a 5-0 deficit to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, so they had some practice before they went down in this one. Goaltending continues to be an issue for the Leafs, but on some nights, they can outscore all their problems.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck