SUNRISE, Fla. -- It’s pretty simple, really.
With a win tonight, the Flyers are in the playoffs. Win in regulation, overtime or shootout, it doesn’t matter.
‘Just win, baby’, as Al Davis used to say.
“It’s a special time for us,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. “We want to make sure we get in tonight. We need to focus on how we play. After tonight’s game, we want to be a better team than before.”
The Flyers remain third in the Metro Division with 89 points, two points behind the New York Rangers. The Columbus Blue Jackets are fourth in the division, just two points behind the Flyers, and holding down the conference's final wild-card spot.
“Any time you can get home-ice advantage, especially, when you are the Flyers and can play at home where the fans are pretty nuts, it kinda gives us a little more motivation,” Giroux said.
The Panthers are primed to ruin the Flyers’ plans (see story).
“We just want to have a great game tonight and it’s a big stretch of games for us,” Scott Hartnell said. “We want to finish as high as possible. Home ice would nice that first round. You have to be playing some of your best hockey going into the playoffs.
“We don’t want to take this night off or have a few passengers tonight. We want to have everyone going with four lines.”
Coach Craig Berube said there’s no reason to mention the obvious to his team. They know what is on the line here.
“It’s a great opportunity for the hockey team tonight,” Berube said. “They’ve been in this situation for a while. We all know what is at stake. What we gotta do here. Just go out and trust your system, play hard and be competitive.”
Vinny Lecavalier said the goal hasn’t changed: catch the Rangers and claim second place.
“Let’s have a really good week and catch the team ahead of us,” he said. “We need to have that [extra jump]. We’re in great position to make the playoffs. That’s not our only goal – to clinch. We also want to catch the team ahead of us.”
The Rangers and Blue Jackets also play tonight.