A game is not won or lost in just a few minutes. It is a full body of work over an entire 60 minutes of hockey. Often times though, the plays, calls and goals at the end of a game are more scrutinized with a microscope because of the intensity and emotion of the closing moments. It is even more questioned when a game is still in the balance and points in the playoff race are on the line.
The Philadelphia Flyers dropped some much needed points in the standings to the division rival New Jersey Devils making the road ahead much more difficult. It didn’t help that once again they fell behind and needed to claw their way back. They were once again able to do that. But falling behind a second time, proved to be too much. Or so it seems by the scoreline.
Having a goal taken away in the closing minutes, on what appeared to be incidental contact created by a back-checking Devil’s player, helped to determine the outcome of a very meaningful game in the standings, dropping Philadelphia to the last position playoff position. The Flyers ended up on the short end of the call, giving the Devils enough for Martin Brodeur to earn his 50th career victory against Philadelphia.
The big story doesn’t revolve around the fact that the goal was taken away, but rather that the Flyers once again allowed themselves to be in that position. Philadelphia continues to put themselves in a place where they need instant offense to catch up and get back into a game. Not only are they now endangering games, they are putting themselves in a predicament where their playoff hopes will be on the line. The Flyers need to do a better job of starting games and keeping the intensity high throughout. Their five-on-five play early left a lot to be desired and trying to make up for it with a late run is becoming more difficult as the close of the season grows nearer. Although they’ve been able to make it work plenty of times in the past, counting on a late run in games against quality teams is a recipe for disaster.
Each game is magnified at this point because of the effect it has on the playoff race, even more so when it happens in the division. Now, the Flyers must prepare for a home-and-home series with one of the NHL’s best and long-time rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The road ahead doesn’t get any easier and with the log jam that is the Eastern conference, dropping attainable points along the way could come back to bite them if they’re not careful.