The Philadelphia Flyers traveled to Ottawa to close out their 2013 campaign. The Flyers have been playing well of late, winning their last three games, including their season finale on home ice.
The Ottawa Senators came into Saturday night’s contest with a chance to move up in the standings, seeking the fifth overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Two wins to close out the season, combined with a Toronto Maple Leafs’ loss would allow them to move up that far; a win alone putting them into the seventh seed in front of the New York Islanders.
Tonight, pride trumped all as the Flyers willed themselves to victory. It was the nail biting, close-knit type of game that Philadelphia has struggled to win all season. However, as of late, the timely goal has complemented their fantastic goaltending rather adequately.
Steve Mason was quite impressive once again for his new club; stoning 43 of 44 shots aimed his way. Mason was in rare form all night, making many key saves; his performance exemplified during a late third period penalty kill. Mason turned away a heavy point blank slapper from defensemen Erik Karlsson, and then robbed Sergei Gonchar on the doorstep with an astounding glove save, freezing the puck and ending the flurry.
Jakub Voracek came roaring down the right wing into the Ottawa zone, directing a three-on-two opportunity. He took his space given and used his advantage as an off winger, ripping a twine seeking wrist shot high blocker side past Senators goalie Craig Anderson. The Flyers held onto the lead and finished strong, winning their fourth game in a row and six of their last seven contests to close out the season.
If this had been a full NHL season, the Flyers stock as a playoff team would be drastically increasing. Unfortunately, Philadelphia chose to play their best hockey at the tail end of the season, with the playoffs realistically unreachable.
Perhaps knowing their playoff fate lifted the weight off of their collective shoulders, allowing some of the younger players to play carefree hockey and come into their own. Or more optimistically thinking, maybe the Flyers just took all season to finally click, making 2014 look especially bright for the club. Either way, it shows that the Flyers have the talent to be a very dangerous team looking forward.