The Philadelphia Flyers like where they stand in the Eastern Conference, but they know they need to start playing better. So do the Toronto Maple Leafs if they’re going to end a five-season playoff drought.
The Flyers look to win two in a row for the first time in more than three weeks when they close out their season series with the Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Atop the East with 88 points, Philadelphia (41-19-6) is battling for home-ice advantage as it eyes another deep postseason run. The Flyers, though, had their conference lead trimmed to two after a 7-0 road loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday.
The defeat was Philadelphia’s most lopsided of the season, but the club ended a season-high four-game skid with a 4-1 victory over Edmonton on Tuesday. Goals by Danny Briere(notes) and Jeff Carter(notes) highlighted a first period in which Philadelphia outshot the Oilers 17-1, though the Flyers managed 10 shots over the final 40 minutes.
The Flyers last won two straight Feb. 15-16.
While Philadelphia has the luxury of being able to work on some problem areas - one of them a power play that has gone 3 for 36 over the last 10 games - the Maple Leafs (29-28-10) can’t afford any poor play as they open a critical three-game homestand.
Toronto, which last appeared in the postseason in 2004, has moved back into playoff contention by going 10-3-5 in its last 18. The Leafs were on a 6-0-3 run before dropping their last two, though they again picked up a point Tuesday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.
Still, Toronto will be trying to avoid its first three-game skid since Jan. 22-25. It sits in 10th place in the East.
“The top two lines weren’t generating anything (and) weren’t working as hard as we needed them to,” coach Ron Wilson said after Tuesday’s game. “Those are the guys we have come to rely on for offense.”
Nikolai Kulemin(notes) and Dion Phaneuf(notes) each had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory at Philadelphia last Thursday. Rookie James Reimer(notes) made 28 saves as Toronto overcame two goals from former Maple Leaf Kris Versteeg(notes) and ended a four-game skid to the Flyers.
Reimer, though, is questionable to start his 10th consecutive game after suffering a hand injury in overtime Tuesday.
“My hand is fine,” he said. “Shot caught me in the right spot. When I pulled my hand out, I was expecting my finger to be in a couple pieces.”
If Reimer can’t go, Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes) will likely make his first start since Feb. 16. He is 0-2-0 with a 4.53 goals-against average against Philadelphia in 2010-11, losing 4-1 on Dec. 9 in the teams’ only meeting in Toronto this season.