Flyers turn worst start into postseason berth

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm •  Published: April 14, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers turned the worst start in team history all the way into another playoff berth.

They want to keep the turnaround rolling to June.

Four years after their last appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, the pressure in Philadelphia only grows on a franchise that hasn't won a championship since 1975.

The Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette after a 0-3 start. Coach Craig Berube needed time to get adjusted and the Flyers' 1-7 record was the worst eight-game start in franchise history. But they finished 42-30-10 for 94 points.

Led by captain Claude Giroux, the Flyers put a season that seemed destined for the draft lottery well behind them as they prepare for the New York Rangers. The teams split four games this season, with three games decided by two goals or fewer.

"We can't be worrying about the Rangers too much," Giroux said. "I think we have to worry about what we do, how we play and how we play as a team. I think that's what we're looking for."

If the Flyers are going to have any chance of knocking off the Rangers, they need goalie Steve Mason not only playing as well as he did in the heart of winter, but healthy.

Mason sat out the season finale after getting bowled over late in the second period on Saturday when Pittsburgh's Jayson Megna failed to put on the brakes while streaking to the net. Mason won 33 games, had four shutouts and stopped 92 percent of his shots in his first full season in Philadelphia.

Berube hoped Mason would be ready for Game 1 Thursday in New York.

"All I know is that he's doing better," Berube said.

Mason has played in only one career playoff series — all of four games — but the Rangers have a huge edge in net behind Henrik Lundqvist.

The Flyers caught a break Monday when forward Scott Hartnell dodged a suspension and was fined only $5,000 for spearing Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore.

It was the kind of careless play that wasn't necessary in any game, much less in Sunday's meaningless season finale. Berube wasn't pleased and knows the Flyers need to play smarter hockey to have any chance at beating the Rangers.