Twenty eight games remain for the Philadelphia Flyers, and boy has it been a roller coaster of a ride. Ten game losing streaks, rookie-laden lineups, and even an Eagles Super Bowl Win. Flyers fans have seen it all this year, and with two months worth of hockey left to play, they’re in for a ride similar to what they have endured thus far.
`The schedule up to this point hasn’t been easy, and it isn’t going to let up any time soon. When you look at these remaining games, you have two games against the top western conference team in the Vegas Golden Knights. You have one more against a phenomenal Tampa Bay Lightning team. You have New Jersey once, Boston twice, Winnipeg, Washington, and Dallas each one time, and the western Pennsylvania rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins twice.
Out of the teams remaining, you have ten games against current playoff teams. You have four games against two teams who are in wildcard position, and 12 games against teams that are within reach of a playoff spot. Out of the 28 games remaining, 26 of them are against teams that have a realistic shot at making the playoffs right now.
So let’s get down to what really matters, whether the Flyers can overcome the tough schedule they have laid out before them and waltz into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In all reality, it’s going to be difficult. There are two teams who are essentially out of playoff contention left on the docket for the Flyers, and the rest are already in, or on the cusp, of being in the playoffs. You have an extremely tough Columbus team, who the Flyers play three times. You have a New York Rangers squad that have been the kryptonite to the Flyers’ Superman for the past few years, and they play each other three more times as well. Carolina is on the cusp, and they have three more games against the Canes also. That’s nine tough divisional games, and we haven’t even touched on Vegas or Tampa.
This Flyers team has battled against adversity all year, and now isn’t the time to fold. The resolve in this team at times is impeccable. Other times, you watch the team on the ice and think they gave up before they even took the ice. The former should be the team to expect out on the ice for these last 28 games, or else the Flyers may miss the playoffs for a second straight year.
Blame me for being optimistic, but all of these games are winnable games. They have proven that they can beat Washington, New Jersey, and Montreal. They even beat the Lightning this year as well. Their toughest tests remaining will be against the newest addition to the NHL, the Golden Knights, and their cross-state rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vegas will be tough because nobody knows what to expect. The Flyers haven’t played them yet. Ever. The Flyers have played the Penguins, however, and they usually have a tough time against them.
Many projections before the season started had the Flyers narrowly missing out on the playoffs. A few had them making it in as one of the top three teams in the Metro. If all the chips fall the way most anticipate, the Flyers could end up in the third Metro spot, or grabbing the top wildcard spot in the east. These last 28 games are absolutely winnable, and the Flyers need to get as many points possible out of them to ensure they don’t need to battle to the very last game of the year to stake their claim to a spot in the playoffs.
Obviously, time will tell as to whether or not the Flyers will end up battling for Lord Stanley, but I’m sure that time isn’t going to be the only variable factoring in to that decision. This team has a lot of heart, and a lot of key pieces that could spell success. Expect that heart to beat furiously over the home stretch of the season, and expect to watch some of the best hockey the Flyers have played all year. This team doesn’t fold during high stakes, and they aren’t about to fold when the stakes are about to reach their highest.
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