The Flyers and Rangers played a game that was eye candy for hockey fans on Tuesday.

Back and forth, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better hockey at breakneck speed – especially in the final 20 minutes, with both teams seizing momentum from the clutches of their opponent almost immediately after a goal.

It was thrilling hockey. The kind we’ve seen a few times in wild west shootouts with the Flyers this season – in Detroit around Christmas time, in Pittsburgh at the end of February, and in Boston earlier this month.

All four games took place on the road.  Aside from that, the one common denominator in all of those games though is, the Flyers lost, including 6-5 to New York.

Oh, they got points in two of them – the one in Detroit where they overcame a 5-0 deficit, and again in New York on Tuesday where getting at least one point was oh-so-crucial to their playoff hopes – but the fact is, there are points being left on the table.

The Flyers proved again Tuesday that they have an identity – and that, quite simply, is that they are a flawed hockey team, yes, but they are willing to outwork you, never going to give up and frankly be a pain in the ass to beat in any given game.

To be certain, none of the top teams in the Eastern Conference – whether it’s the Rangers, Carolina, Boston or Florida – wants to play the Flyers in the first round as they would be a very dangerous team.

It’s their grit and determination that makes them so scary, even if after playing 71 games they have lost more (36) then they’ve won (35).

The Rangers have beaten the Flyers in all three meetings this season – and there’s one more matchup still to come – but it’s been by a total of four goals.

The Flyers have hung with Carolina in all four of their meetings, going 1-2-1 against the Canes. They went 1-2-0 against Boston and 2-1-0 against Florida.

And while 4-7-2 might not seem like a great record, only one of the nine losses was lopsided – a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Bruins in January.

The Flyers can play with the big boys.

There are 10 teams with 90 points in the NHL at the moment. The Flyers are 11-10-4 against them.

Now they just need to play with the little guys over the next three weeks to unexpectedly reach the playoffs.

The Flyers have nine games remaining. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot over Detroit is 17. That means a combination of points earned by the Flyers and lost by the Red Wings.

As such, if the Flyers can just play .500 hockey the rest of the way – earn nine points in those nine games, Detroit would then have to get 13 points in their 10 games to pass them, which is asking a lot since the Red Wings are playing as tough a schedule as the Flyers just finished playing, with their next four games at Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay and then home against the Rangers. They also have a home game against Washington and a road game against Toronto left on their schedule.

Couple that with the fact that Detroit is 3-9-1 in their last 13 games and you can understand why getting 13 of 20 points is so tough.

That’s why getting one point against the Rangers Tuesday, despite the loss, was so critical for the Flyers. They now have 10 points accrued this season in losses. Detroit has only seven such points – which also happens to be the difference between them in the standings.

It’s why it was paramount to come away from the seven-game gauntlet the Flyers just completed with a minimum of six points.

We talked about this on March 14 on Snow the Goalie:

That’s why the third period against New York was especially important for the Flyers.

After blowing a two-goal lead, the Flyers didn’t wilt. Travis Konecny started it with a snipe on a 2-on-1 opportunity created off a missed shot by the Rangers in the Flyers end of the ice:

The Rangers would again take the lead, but a little more than two minutes later, the Flyers got themselves ANOTHER breakaway off a beauty of a saucer pass from Morgan Frost to Owen Tippett, who got a lucky bounce on the goal, but hey, they all count the same:

“Dirty, but good.”

Great call from Jim Jackson there. Again, the Flyers are so good at recognizing when a team turns the puck over in the Flyers zone. It allows the wingers to get going up ice and creates opportunities like this one for Frost to make a stretch pass to a winger with speed and get a golden scoring chance.

One of the best things John Tortorella has done all season was put a line together with Frost centering Tippett and Konecny. They may lack a bit on the defensive side of the game, but it’s your best playmaking center with your two best goal scorers, and boy are they making things happen of late. They have combined for 13 even-strength points in the five games since being put together.

In a wild and wooly third period that was seeing a goal about every 2-3 minutes, the Rangers took the lead again, but the Flyers just wouldn’t relent:

This is the most impressive goal, in my mind, for a number of reasons.

  • It’s getting late in the game, so you have to dig a little deeper to find the energy you need to play at that point.
  • You’ve already blown a lead and come from behind twice in the period, so it’s asking a lot to come back a third time.
  • How many times do you hear coaches preach about going to the greasy or dirty areas of the ice to score goals? Tyson Foerster could have just given up on the play, but he put himself in position to bang home that loose puck. It’s a small detail that earned the Flyers a crucial point in the standings.

In all honesty, the Flyers were amazing over the final 10 minutes of the third period. They outshot the Rangers 13-2 in that time. The only problem was, the two shots by the Rangers were goals.

And then, so was this one, 36 seconds into overtime:

There are some unanswered questions about this goal.

  1. Was Ryan Poehling hurt? It seemed like he was dealing with an arm/shoulder injury in the third period, and yet he was out there for the OT and looked like he was playing with just one hand on his stick and favoring/protecting his left arm.
  2. Why are you starting a 3-on-3 overtime with your best skill players on the bench?

Torts didn’t address it after the game, because he didn’t talk after the game – again. He’s really leaning into this whole Herb Brooks in Miracle thing, isn’t he?

Just like Brooks sent assistant coach Craig Patrick out to speak to the media before the semifinal game against Russia, Torts has turned to his assistants in spots when hard questions may be coming:

  • He got tossed from the game in Tampa and sent out Brad Shaw afterwards.
  • He benched captain Sean Couturier and sent out Rocky Thompson to discuss at practice.
  • After the loss in Carolina last week, it was Shaw who took on postgame responsibilities.
  • He loses a game in OT in New York, another city he coached, and sends Shaw out to face the questions.

And this is just in the past 2-3 weeks.

Nevertheless, the Flyers are this close to doing something nobody thought they could. All that’s left is not blowing it against teams they should beat. Sounds simple enough, right?