As I type this, there are exactly eight days, seven hours, 53 minutes and 48 seconds remaining until the puck is dropped for the first time in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For some teams, many of which clinched playoff spots over a week ago, this time will be used to prepare both mentally and physically.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, who locked in their spot in the playoffs 12 days ago, sat four of their best players in what was essentially a meaningless matchup against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
Basically, for these teams that are already ensured a place in the race for the Stanley Cup, the next eight days will be the calm before the storm; a time for maintenance and recovery.
For teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers, though, who after a franchise worst 1-7 start are still fighting for a playoff position, there is no time to rest and recover.
On Oct. 22, Flyers captain Claude Giroux told the press that his team would make the playoffs, and the whole hockey world laughed in his face. Surely this team that had only one win in eight games, and no more than two goals in any of those games, would not be good enough to recover from such a bad start.
Fast forward, 168 days later, and the Flyers entered their fourth and final competition of the regular season against the lowly Florida Panthers Tuesday. The Flyers the won 5-2 and secured the playoff spot Captain Claude promised so long ago.
If the playoffs started today, the Flyers would draw their rivals in the New York Rangers, a matchup that most Flyers fans don’t exactly feel confident going into, despite a 2-2 season record against their foes in the Big Apple. However, it goes without saying that this contest would provide for a very intense, emotionally fueled and fun-to-watch series.
Before any of this can happen though, the Flyers need to clinch that playoff spot in the next eight days.
The Flyers have already accomplished impressive things this season, recovering from an embarrassing start to being considered one of the best teams in the NHL. However, it’s safe to say fans won’t be too happy if they find a way to let their playoff spot slip through the cracks. So while the Penguins’ best players are resting, the Flyers must find a new level in their game if they want any shot at the playoffs, and, God willing, Lord Stanley in June.