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Can Flyers still make the playoffs?

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

It's going to take quite a run for the Philadelphia Flyers to make the playoffs. (USATSI)
It's going to take quite a run for the Philadelphia Flyers to make the playoffs. (USATSI)

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Following their 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon the Philadelphia Flyers are in trouble. A lot of trouble.

They're at the bottom of the Atlantic Division (in sole possession of last place after the Islanders' win in Washington), have played more games than every other team in the conference (meaning everybody has games in hand on them), and are on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in.

Sure, the point gap isn't huge, but those points are hard to make up this late in the season, especially when you consider the number of teams that are ahead of them and the fact they only have 22 games remaining.

In a normal 82-game season it usually takes somewhere between 94-95 points to qualify for the postseason as a No. 8 seed. If you do the math on it and account for a 48-game schedule you're shooting for around 55 points this year. For the Flyers to reach that mark they would need to put together a record of 15-5-2 (or some other combination that would give them 32 points) over their remaining 22 games.

For a team that won just 11 of its first 26 that's asking a lot. And it's probably not going to happen.

So what's the problem in Philadelphia?

Well let's start on the back end with the dumpster fire that is currently the Flyers' defense and goaltending situation. Without Chris Pronger, and Matt Carle leaving in free agency this past summer, the defense was obviously going to be a problem coming into the season. The only thing really done to address it in the offseason was trading James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn, a trade that has turned out to be laughably one-sided in the Maple Leafs' favor.

As a group the unit is slow, prone to turnovers, misses assignments, and just flat out isn't that good. Their best, most reliable player on the blue line is 37-year-old Kimmo Timonen. These issues are only magnified when the last line of defense, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, has been just as bad, if not worse, than he was a year ago.

Bryzgalov entered Saturday's game with a .899 save percentage which placed him 32nd out of the 45 goalies that qualify for the league lead. A first period that saw him give up three goals on five shots didn't help that. What's been even worse for the Flyers and Bryzgalov is that the team is absolutely running him into the ground, having already started him in 24 games this season, more than any other netminder in the league. And just think he's only under contract through the end of the 2019-20 season.

I sometimes wonder where this team would be right now had the front office not completely rebuilt the team on the fly over the past couple of years with a series of huge, blockbuster trades/signings.

On one hand they wouldn't have guys like Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier (acquired as part of the Jeff Carter trade) and Wayne Simmonds (acquired in the Mike Richards trade), key young players they can build around for several years.

On the other hand, they would still have van Riemsdyk (another young player they could be building around for several years) and wouldn't be stuck with Schenn or the albatross that is Bryzgalov's contract.

The Flyers have had no problem over the years developing and acquiring talented forwards. Defensemen and goaltending, on the other hand, have been a major issue, and this year it's really starting to catch up to them.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @Agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Also, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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