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Flyers Looking to Get Back on Track Outside vs Pens

2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series - Pittsburgh Rink Build-Out
The Flyers take on the Penguins in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Heinz Field. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH — Flyers general manager Ron Hextall would have loved to play an outdoor game.

“You could start a brawl out there,” he said, his eyes a little wider as he momentarily escaped his cerebral GM persona for the crazed goalie he used to be.

His Flyers, who will play their third outdoor game Saturday, have a bigger fight on their hands than picking battles with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They need points and need them fast.

“Yeah, I think it would have been great,” he followed, back in GM mode. “It’s funny because I don’t know if I like the time right now with where we’re at (in the standings) and stuff rather than the start of January.”

That’s when the Winter Classic was the last time the Flyers played outside and there was more of a circus then. No HBO cameras this time, to the Flyers’ delight. No time for that not.

While 60,000 fans at Heinz Field and the potential for snow showers makes for a great image, the picture the Flyers see is of the playoff seeding and they aren’t in it.

“For us, this is an extremely important game,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We’ve got to get all the points we can possibly get going down the stretch if we want to make the playoffs. Obviously, it’s going to be an exciting time. A lot of games have families here. But we have to stay focused on the goal.”

The families stayed in a different hotel from the players because that’s how narrow they want the focus to be: playoffs or bust and bust is looking increasingly likely. According to sportsclubstats.com, which forecasts playoff probabilities, the Flyers would have to go something to the tune of 14-5-3 to make it. The Flyers are five points out of a playoff spot with 22 games remaining.

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