Philadelphia Flyers (26-24-11) at Toronto Maple Leafs (24-31-5)
|Date & Time||Thursday February 26, 2015, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Toronto Maple Leafs / Philadelphia Flyers --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
The Philadelphia Flyers look to inch closer to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Philadelphia finds themselves four points behind the Boston Bruins but they’re coming off a very disappointing 4-1 loss to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Rob Zepp was not very good in goal in this one but the Flyers offense just didn’t show up at all. They managed just 24 total shots in the game and did nothing to capitalize on Nicklas Grossman’s late first period goal that tied the game at 1-1 heading into the opening intermission. These are the types of losses that a team just can’t afford if they want to be taken seriously at making a run down the stretch. To his credit, general manager Ron Hextall has spoken openly about not mortgaging the future to try and make a run at a post season berth this year. Hextall knows that there are a lot of problems with his hockey club right now and that even if they do make the playoffs that they likely aren’t going to do much when they get there. The good news is that the Flyers could get Steve Mason back in goal on Thursday and that would be a huge lift for them with some of the soft goals that Zepp has given up lately. Mason was having an extremely good season before being injured, posting a .925 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average in front of a club that really don’t play much defense. Thursday night is an absolute must win for this hockey club against a team that is in complete disarray and in the midst of a fire sale. The schedule gets tougher for the Flyers after this one so it’s really a game that they just have to have.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs it’s just about trying to figure out which of the players on the current roster can actually fetch something in return before Monday’s trading deadline. Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson were recently traded to the Nashville Predators and now Daniel Winnik is the next one to follow them out the door. The fire sale is in full effect and it will continue as long as there are some high upside youngsters coming back or some draft picks. After another five game losing streak the Leafs finally turned things around on Saturday night at home against the Winnipeg Jets. Trailing by a goal early in the third period it was Nazem Kadri scoring his 15th of the season to even things up at 3-3. James van Riemsdyk won it in overtime with his 22nd of the year. Toronto opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal from Leo Komarov before watching Winnipeg score twice on the power play before the end of the period. Winnik tied the game in the second period but the Jets regained the lead with under a minute to play in the second. Jonathan Bernier picked up his 17th victory of the season in the win.
There might not be much defense in this game with the way these two teams play. Philadelphia isn’t a great hockey club by any stretch but the guys they have on their roster are at least capable of keeping them in this playoff hunt for a few more weeks.