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Behind Enemy Lines: Flyers Trying to Hang On

The Flyers have fallen from grace recently and are in danger of another season without the playoffs.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers, over the past decade, have been a team routinely locked into a playoff spot. This year, they can barely keep their head above water. Elimination from a playoff spot seems inevitable as time (and games remaining) is not on the Flyers’ side.

The Flyers currently sit six points back of a wild card spot and 24 points back of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. A 1-4-0 record in their last five games coming into tonight’s match-up with Carolina does not help their case.

The root of the Flyers struggles this season can be found in the crease. Goaltending has been a weak spot on the roster as they currently allow 2.94 goals per game, which is seventh-worst in the NHL. Much like the Hurricanes, the Flyers have not been able to turn to a definitive number one goalie. Steve Mason has struggled for the Flyers with a .905 save percentage and Michael Neuvirth hasn’t been much better with a .887 save percentage. Neither goalie’s record is above .500.

It hasn’t been all grim for Philadelphia. Jakub Voracek is enjoying a solid season as the Flyers’ leading scorer with 17 goals and 38 assists for 55 points. After a rough start to the season, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere seems to have found the spark that ignited his rookie season. Rookie Ivan Provorov has flown under the radar in a stacked rookie of the year race but has been a reliable force for Philadelphia. He has 25 points in 70 games and ranks first among Flyers skaters in time on ice at 21:49 per game. The Flyers defense will only improve with top prospects Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim waiting on their shot at the NHL.

Despite their struggles in other areas of the game, the Flyers have had an above average power play as they currently sit 13th in the NHL at 20.1 percent. Carolina ranks 22nd at 17.4 percent. Carolina’s penalty killing unit stands strong at 5th in the league while Philadelphia’s falls behind the pack at 22nd.

The Flyers have the advantage of not having played last night, while the Hurricanes will be in the second half of a back-to-back and beginning a four-game road trip. The playoffs may be a long shot, but the Flyers know that two points tonight is a necessity if they have any plans on making an unexpected charge to a playoff spot.