Despite brutal loss to Columbus, all is not lost for Flyers

Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

By Mike Santa Barbara (@Mike__SB)

The Flyers entered Tuesday night’s match up with the Blue Jackets surging toward a playoff spot, having won three of their last four sitting just a point behind the Red Wings for the East’s final wildcard spot.

And, for nearly 59 minutes on Tuesday, everything was going according to plan. After being widely outplayed to start the game, the Flyers held a 1-0 advantage through two periods thanks to a goal from Claude Giroux.

In a tight defensive battle, scoring an insurance goal with just over eight minutes to go in the third made this game feel like a victory, especially when the Flyers were playing behind Steve Mason who ended the game with a career-high in saves.

Despite the aforementioned slow start to the game, the Flyers had buckled down and started to play the kind of team defense that helped earn them recent victories over the Red Wings, Blackhawks and Islanders.

With the final minutes of the third winding down, and down two goals, the Jackets decided to pull Sergei Bobrovsky earlier than usual.

Then, it happened.

All the good work the Flyers had put in crumbled before their eyes as they made bad decision after bad decision with the puck and the goalie pulled, ultimately leading to a shorthanded goal and the game-tying goal which were separated by less than a minute.

Overtime solved nothing, and the Flyers ended up losing in the shootout.

While it’s an ending the Flyers, historically the worst team in the league at shootouts since they were first implemented, and their fans are used to seeing – this one was particularly painful given the magnification of losing that second point that seemed all but wrapped up late in the third.

Detroit, one of several teams the Flyers are chasing in the standings for a playoff spot, lost in Tampa Bay Tuesday night meaning a Flyers victory would have put them one-point ahead of the Wings for the final wildcard spot.

Even though they’re now tied with Detroit for that final spot, there’s no argument – they gave away a crucial point Tuesday night.

However, all is not lost.

We’ve talked about the big picture when it comes to the Flyers’ future. In short, it looks pretty bright with the talent already assembled and some of the most highly touted prospects the team’s had in recent memory knocking on the door.

So, anything and everything that happens from here on out this season is gravy. If the Flyers make the playoffs, great – no matter what it’ll be a great ride.

If they don’t end up claiming one of the final playoff spots, it’s not the end of the world.

There isn’t a rebuild coming this summer. No head coaching or GM change. No goalie controversy. All that will be left is waiting for camp to see which of the talented group of future stars and contributors is ready to join the big club, and that could be several players or more.

But, lets focus on the now – sure the Flyers blew a golden opportunity Tuesday night. We’ve been there. Hell, it might even happen again before the season’s out, so prepare yourself.

Though, the bottom line is the Flyers are still very much alive and the last few weeks of the season will be a blast. So, enjoy. Don’t stress. Just remember, whatever happens, this is likely the beginning of great era in Flyers hockey.

First-year Head Coach Dave Hakstol has hardly looked like a rookie behind the bench, especially over the last few months. The team has clearly bought in, and that shows on the ice.

There have been bumps in the road, no doubt. Though, Hakstol has to get some of the credit for having this team anywhere near a playoff spot at this point in the year.

With some questionable depth this season, and the injuries that are going to come throughout an 82-game season Hakstol has steadied the ship and is as responsible as anyone for helping put the team where they are now.

The Flyers have a nice core group that are still young and either hitting their prime or nearing it. If you pair that with the likes of Gostisbehere, and the youth we’ve mentioned here before and it’s all coming up Milhouse for the orange and black.

So, again, relax and just enjoy the ride. It’s only getting started. And even with Tuesday night’s hiccup, the averages are still on the Flyers side so we may see the postseason after all.

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