The Orange and Blah

Results this week: Blue Jackets 4, Flyers 3 (OT); Flyers 2, Sabres 1; Blue Jackets 5, Flyers 2; Sabres 3, Flyers 2 (SO)

Current record: 24-23-11, 59 points

Record at this point last year: 29-23-6, 64 points

Record at this point in 2006: 16-34-8, 40 points

Upcoming schedule: Feb 21 vs Predators, Feb 22 vs Capitals, Feb 24 at Hurricanes, Feb 26 at Maple Leafs

Despite the fact the Bruins (two points in their last five games) continue to self-destruct, the Flyers find themselves with no games in hand and seven points out of the last Wild Card spot as of Thursday morning.  The Panthers (three points back with a game in hand) find themselves in a much better spot to take advantage of this Boston swoon.  Basically, the Flyers need to catch the Panthers AND the Bruins for a playoff spot, because they aren’t catching Washington (who they have a game in hand on, but are behind by fourteen points).

The second Blue Jackets game this week felt inevitable: at some point along this point streak, the Flyers were going to have a game where a couple turnovers in their own zone and sloppy goaltending led to goals.  Sure enough, Ray Emery left out some juicy rebounds, Vinnie Lecavalier provided a killer turnover which turned into a pretty passing play for a slam dunk goal, and the Jackets won comfortably.

Look, I know Ray is a gamer, a true professional.  He shows up every night, and he’s taken on this challenge of filling in for Mason admirably.  But Ray is 32 and playing the most demanding position in the game.  He’s coming off of a hip problem that nearly ended his career.  His lateral movement is highly suspect and it’s transparent every team who plays the Flyers tries to exploit that.  His goals against is north of 3 and his save percentage is south of .900.  He is what he is at this point: a back-up who is being forced to start, and he’s simply not built for this kind of workload.

Not that it matters, though.  The Flyers aren’t going to the playoffs.  And if I keep telling myself that, I can only be pleasantly surprised if, by some miracle, they make it.

In other news, the Flyers extended Nick Schultz two years for $2.25M per year.  I’m of two minds about this signing; on one hand, you probably could have signed a replacement-level guy like this for less, but on the other hand, it probably means change on the blue line is coming sooner than later for a team that needs change on the blue line in the WORST possible way.  If Hextall is smart, he’ll sign Del Zotto and attempt to offload Coburn/Grossmann/MacDonald (although I have no idea who would take MacDonald, but there it is).  Trading Lecavalier would be nice too, but again, two teams are needed to trade, and no one is obligated to relieve us of Paul Holmgren’s bad decisions.

Other thoughts:

-Bellemare watch: second hardest-working Frenchman in Philadelphia, behind only Sebastien Le Toux.

-If the Flyers were in the West, they would be the third-worst team, behind the Coyotes (47 points) and Oilers (44 points).

-Good for Ryan White, making it all the way back from serious injury to get his first goal as a Flyer.  I like him a lot better than Zac Rinaldo in that energy role.

-There’s no way the steaming pile of crap of a game that was the Flyers OT loss to the Sabres deserved to be worth three total points.  The NHL desperately needs to fix the scoring system.  There doesn’t need to be a winner that can’t be determined in sixty minutes of regular hockey and a five minute overtime period.  Bring ties back and go to a soccer-style scoring system where a tie game is worth a point to each team but a win is worth three to the winner to emphasize winning more.  It will work.

-Hopefully, this latest loss pounds it home to Hextall that the Flyers need to sell.

-As we approach the last third or so of the season, I want to ask you this; is there anything you’d like to see or talk about?  If so, message me on Twitter @loqiel.

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