Flyers – 76ers and The Playoffs

In Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers on March 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

Last week in our review we stated that the Flyers needed to get all 8 of the available points for the week. We knew that would be tough with games against the Penguins, Panthers, Capitals and Canadians. The Flyers did earn 6 of the 8 points, losing a very well played 2-1 game to the Panthers. The week started with a fantastic come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime on a Scott Hartnell goal. The Florida loss followed. The Flyers bounced back with a 2-1 shootout win over Washington and a 4-1 dominating victory against Montreal. The Saturday night win clinched a playoff spot for the Flyers. The interesting statistic from the week, after spotting the Penguins a 2-0 lead on Sunday, the Flyers outscored their opponents 10-4 for the remainder of the week.

The standings didn’t change over the week. The Penguins presently hold the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference 3 points behind the 1st seeded Rangers. The Pens are still hot in spite of losing big to Ottawa on Saturday night with their backup goalie. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been on fire. The Rangers have cooled off but have managed to hold on to their lead in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. The Pens have 8 games remaining while the Rangers and Flyers have 7 each. The Flyers have 3 games this week, 2 of them at the Wells Fargo Center. Monday they host Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos is a scoring machine. He presently leads the NHL with 52 goals. The Lightning are likely out of the playoffs but could be a spoiler for the Flyers. This is a must 2 points for the Orange and Black. Thursday’s game is at Toronto against a Maple Leafs team that is also likely out of the playoffs. Again, this is another 2 points the Flyers must get. Saturday, it’s back home to “The Well” against the Ottawa Senators. The Sens are currently in the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. The Flyers need the 2 points in this game, but must get 1 point at the least. This weeks schedule is also favorable to the Rangers, 3 games against non-playoff teams and the Penguins, 4 games with only 1 against a playoff team, the Devils. This is a week where all three teams should gain points leading in to the final week of the season.

The Flyers continue to get outstanding play from goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. The defensive improvement can be seen every night with contributions coming from every player.  Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read and a couple goals on Saturday night by Danny Briere have led the way on offense. (See the link to our article on our MVP Scott Hartnell.)

The final week of the season is heating up to be special with every game being important in the final playoff positioning. The Flyers have a game against the Rangers and two with the Penguins. Home ice and the 4th seed would be a good landing spot at this point. Making up 5 points on the Rangers and 2 on the Pens may be too tough to do with only 7 games left in the season.

The 76ers are a mystery team. Just when you thought they might be dead and gone they whip the Celtics again in another blowout at the Wells Fargo Center. We felt that the 76ers needed to beat the last place Charlotte Bobcats to open the week, they did. They needed to beat the revived New York Knicks but lost, 82-79, before bouncing back with the big 99-86 win over Boston. The 2-1 record for the week leaves the 76ers hanging on to a 1.5 game lead over the Celtics and a 3.5 game lead over the Knicks in the Eastern Conference.

There’s no rest this week. The 76ers have 4 games in the next 7 days with no room to slip up. They open tonight in San Antonio against a very good Spurs team. They come back home to host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Cavs are on the outside of the playoff picture. Friday night it’s off to Washington to play the Wizards. The Wizards have won only 11 games all season. Saturday night it’s back to the Wells Fargo Center to host the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are also a good team. They’ve actually won two more games this season than the 76ers. The 76ers need to beat either San Antonio or Atlanta as well as win the two games they should win, Cleveland and Washington, to finish the week with a 3-1 record.

The 76ers seem to be looking for answers every night. One night the leader is Elton Brand, another it’s Lou Williams, another it’s Jrue Holiday. Evan Turner seems to have disappeared as quickly as he arrived. The 76ers have played all season with balanced scoring and good defense while not overusing any player. It seems it’s time to establish who the top six or seven players will be going in to the playoffs and use them down the stretch.

Congratulations to Head Coach Doug Collins on winning his 400th NBA game against Boston on Friday night. Collins has done a real nice job with this young 76ers team. It would be good to get by the first round of the playoffs.

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