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Hartnell: Flyers need 'epic' run to make postseason

by Adam Kimelman /

VOORHEES, N.J. -- A year ago Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers were in Pittsburgh, preparing for Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Penguins.

If they have any hope of getting back to the postseason this year, they'll need what Flyers forward Scott Hartnell called an "epic" final nine games of the regular season, starting with their game Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.

The Flyers are 12th in the Eastern Conference, seven points out of a playoff spot.

"We need to have an epic ending to the season," Hartnell said after practice Thursday morning. "Basically we need to win them all to have a chance. We need to get back to our winning ways. Hopefully we can come out here hard, lay it all out on the ice."

That starts with the Flyers rebounding from a pair of similar losses in their previous two games. Against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Flyers scored the game's first goal but failed to protect the lead, allowing the opposition to score four in a row in matching 4-1 defeats.

However bleak the situations, though, a positive vibe remains in the locker room.

"We still have nine games left, there's still 18 points on the line," Simon Gagne told "Who knows? You never know. You just have to put yourself out there, play the best that you can and finish strong. You never know what can happen. We're going to start with one game at a time and this one is going to be against Ottawa."

Hartnell said, "You always have to believe until you're mathematically eliminated. We believe in each other, we believe in the group, we believe in what we have going here."

The Flyers could get some help for their cause Thursday against the Senators or for their game Saturday at the Buffalo Sabres; forward Danny Briere went through the morning skate then stayed after practice for extra work.

Briere has five goals and eight assists in 26 games, but he's usually played his best in the biggest games: He has 109 points in 108 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"Danny is the type of player, he could score that big goal and make the difference in the game," Gagne said. "He's done that before in his career in the past in big games. He's the type of player you want to have on the ice. It doesn't matter what type of season, he still has the skills and the talent to score those big goals. Hopefully he'll be back soon to finish strong."

The Flyers didn't skate in consistent line combinations, but here's one guess on how they could look when they take the ice at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Mike Knuble - Ruslan Fedotenko - Simon Gagne

Jay Rosehill - Sean Couturier- Adam Hall

Bruno Gervais - Kimmo Timonen

Kent Huskins - Erik Gustafsson

Luke Schenn - Oliver Lauridsen

Ilya Bryzgalov

Steve Mason

Scratched: Kurtis Foster

Injured: Danny Briere (concussion), Maxime Talbot (leg), Jody Shelley (hip), Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder)


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