Many teams that make the post-season have a player on their roster that elevates his style of play in order to reach a new level of performance during the most meaningful games of the year in the playoffs. These players are instrumental to each team's success in the playoffs and help carry their teams to several victories in their run for the Cup.
Looking back to the recent past, players such as Fernando Pisani and Sean Bergenheim come to mind. Pisani, who was playing for the Edmonton Oilers during their Cup run in 2006, only had 37 points in 80 regular season games but burst onto the playoff scene with 14 goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games.
The Flyers head to Buffalo where they face another team in a similar position. Both teams have some decent ground to make up in the standings with such little time left. Whoever wins this game could give themselves good momentum or a false sense of hope.
Heading into Sunday night, the Flyers had allowed seven straight goals, blowing a 4-1 lead to Pittsburgh to lose 5-4 on Thursday and then getting shut-out 3-0 to the Bruins on Saturday.
Speed and an inability to have a physical presence in front of the net cost the Flyers the game on Thursday. Saturday's loss was three minutes of embarrassing hockey in which they were again out-worked.
Compound those two losses with the 4-2 loss to New York on Tuesday in which the Rangers scored three unanswered to win and the Flyers found themselves on a three-game losing streak and three games under .500.
Hosting the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, the Flyers needed to drastically change something.
(Pictured: Wayne Simmonds fights with Mike Weber in the first period after Simmonds' hit on Tyler Ennis. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Something had to have been said before the game because a different Flyers team was out on the ice.
The Flyers controlled the tempo early, kept Buffalo mentally out of the game, and gave a much better team effort that didn't resemble last week's edition of the Flyers.
They had to battle with Buffalo though, who was throwing the body around and trying to draw the Flyers into making mental mistakes with the physical game. In the end, the Flyers overcame it, winning a nail-biting 3-2 game in which head coach Peter Laviolette saw some positives.
(Pictured: The puck gets passed Ilya Bryzgalov, but was then saved by Brayden Schenn before it crossed the goal line. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
It took a dramatic finish, but the New York Islanders finally won a game on home ice during a Sunday matinee game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in the shootout.
The Islanders got on the board early in the game when Brad Boyes scored his fifth of the year, beating Robin Lehner glove side under the crossbar. The play started when Matt Moulson received a pass from Mark Streit at the Senators blue line and fed Boyes the puck as he was flying up the slot.
Not long after Boyes' goal, Matt Martin was found banging bodies all over the ice. In fact Martin had 6 hits in just over 3 minutes of play during the first period. Senators enforcer Chris Neil took exception to Martin's physical play and challenged him to a fight, but Martin ignored his request and continued to take out Senators along the wall.
He finished with 11 hits on the night. Coming into the game, Martin was just one shy of tying Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott for the league lead of 94 hits.
Well at least I was right about something in yesterday's preview...anyone looking for a skilled hockey was sorely disappointed in watching last night's beat down of the Bruins by the previously dismal Buffalo Sabres.
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The New York Islanders kick off their first road trip of the season tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. It will be the first of three meetings between the two teams during the shortened 48-game season.
With healthy head coach Jack Capuano back behind the bench, the Isles came out on Monday afternoon with confidence and agility. They look to keep the momentum going tonight and pick up another two points. (Photo Credit: gbalogh/Flickr)