With the offseason being in its final stage, let’s take an early look at where the Flyers stand in the Metropolitan Division heading into the season. The Flyers are in a good position starting the season to make a big jump in the division from the past few seasons of mediocre play. Since the start of the new playoff format in 2013, the Flyers have only been a division playoff entry in the playoffs once, back in the first season of the new format. That year the team fought hard in a 7-game series against the Rangers, which had the Flyers on the losing end 4 to 3 in the series. Ever since that year, the Flyers have made the playoffs once and that was as the second wildcard team, playing against the best regular season team the Washington Capitals. Again, the Flyers losing the series 4 to 2 in what was just an unmatched situation for the young Flyers team. Now, 2 years later, after missing the playoffs last season, the orange and black are in a prime position to bounce back and make the playoffs this season. Here is where I see the Flyers lining up in the Metro Division.
First, let’s look at the past few season of the Metro Division. Over the past few seasons, the 3 teams that have made the playoffs for the Metro Division have all finished the season with over 100 points. When you look at this, this has been the strongest division in the NHL and the hardest when it comes to divisional play. Just last year, the third team in the Metro had 108 points and the fourth had 102. So, for the Flyers to even have a chance, my estimation is they must get over 100 points to have a chance.
Second, let’s look at the teams above the Flyers. When you look at the Metro, there are two teams that stand above all other and those two are the Capitals and Penguins. These two teams could be the top two teams in the whole Eastern Conference, so the Flyers are already starting 3rd in the division from the gate. Next I really see them in the fight for the 3rd / 4th spot in the division with the Blue Jackets and Rangers. These two teams haven’t really done anything to help out their teams this offseason and have actually hurt themselves more than helped.
With the Rangers trading away their best role playing forward and future starter and the Blue Jackets trading for someone who needs skill players around him to play at the level he has been, I just don’t see these two teams being as good as they were last year. This is why I could see one beating the Flyers for the 3rd spot and one falling behind the Flyers. The Rangers are just one injury away from their season going down the tubes before it even starts because if King Henrik goes down, they don’t have a backup capable of playing starters minutes on a nightly basis.
And the Blue Jackets being the streaky team they have been over the past few seasons raises a lot of flags for me when you look at consistent play. The real reason the Blue Jackets were good last year was because of the 16-game win streak they had and they were able to keep up the play better than the Flyers did after the win streak ended.
Therefore, here is how I see the division playing out.
- Capitals – 110
- Penguins – 105
- Blue Jackets – 102
- Flyers – 98
- Rangers – 94
- Hurricanes – 88
- Islanders – 86
- Devils – 80
I see the Flyers lining up fourth in the division and the second wildcard team as I see the Senators, Bruins, Tampa, and Canadiens have more points than them. However, I believe that they will be playing one of the Atlantic Division teams in the first round because I see Ottawa or Montreal taking the best team in the East away from the Capitals this season.
Now that they have their position, let’s see how they are going to get there. To get to 98 points, I see the Flyers going anywhere between 40-45 wins, 25-30 losses, and 7-12 overtime losses. This will get them to around the 98-point mark and a very strong season for a very balanced Flyers team. My ideal record for them would be 43-27-12 which is 98 points. Hopefully the Flyers can get close to this record because that will almost assure them a playoff spot in this year’s playoffs.
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports