Flyers post All-Star break preview: 49 down, 33 to go for the Orange & Black

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Just 26 games into the season, the Flyers were at rock bottom. Coming off their 10th straight loss, the Flyers were 8-11-7.

It was a point in the Flyers season that many thought was already the end. However, this Flyers team had a lot more fight left in them.

After their 10th loss, the Flyers faced a tough 3-game western Canada road-trip. But many of the Flyers were not looking at it like that. They saw this as an opportunity to get away and bond as a team on a long road-trip.

“Yeah we need this right now. We need to get it so it’s just us together.” Simmonds said after the Flyers 10th straight loss on Dec 2nd. “We can finally converse about what we want to do. How we’re gonna play. There’s no outside distractions. Obviously guys are at home. There’s families and stuff like that. On the road, we’re each other’s family.”

Fortunately, the Flyers did just that. The Flyers regrouped as a team and swept the western Canada trip. It was an feat they also did in 2013-2014.

But, why does that matter? Well, the Flyers used that sweep in 2013-2014 to start an extremely hot second half and propel themselves to the playoffs. The Flyers went 25-14-6 after a 17-16-4 start to sneak into the playoffs.

This year, the Flyers look to be doing the same. After a 8-11-7 start, the Flyers have used the western Canada sweep to start an extremely hot start to the second half.

The Flyers are 16-6-1 since sweeping through western Canada. Since Dec 2nd, the Flyers are tied for the 2nd best team in the East. Behind only Boston who is 17-2-4 and tied with Tampa 16-6-1. They are tied for 3rd in the whole league with Vegas jumping them at 17-3-3.

But, is this just a good stretch for the Flyers? Can they keep this up? Well, lets look at why they are on the right side for once.

With the Flyers schedule this year, they have almost all of the 30 games against the tougher Western Conference out of the way. The Flyers played 23 out of the first 33 games against Western Conference teams.

Today, January 28th, the Flyers only play 6 more games against the Western Conference. This is a big deal for 2 reasons.

One, the Flyers do not have any extended road-trips to go on. The longest time away from home is a 2-game road-trip to Arizona & Vegas.

Two, the way you make up ground and move up the rankings is by playing against your division. The Flyers will be doing plenty of that, playing 17 out of the remaining 33 games against the Metro Division.

With the schedule on their side, will that help them?

Looking at the Flyers against the Metro already this season, this may be a good thing. The Flyers are 5-2-4 against the Metro division. Meaning, the Flyers have only not gotten points in 2 out of the 11 games against the Metro this season. If the Flyers keep their same pace, they will go 8-3-6 against the Metro for the rest of the year.

If they do, the 8-3-6 record will get them 22 points against the division that will have 5 out of the 8 teams make the playoffs.  To date, 2nd to 8th in the Metro is only a difference of 5 points. If the Flyers can be .500 or a little over, they should have no problem making the playoffs.

Now, what do they have going for them?

First, with recent news out of the hockey world, the New York Rangers maybe setting up a fire-sale real soon. Well, real soon would be actually 2 weeks with the NHL deadline fast approaching. If they do, that takes one team behind the Flyers out of the race and one less to worry about.

Second, the Flyers are the 2nd hottest team in the East and the 3rd hottest team in the NHL. Since Dec 2nd, the Flyers are 16-6-1. A huge turnaround from their 8-11-7 start.

Third, they currently sit in a playoff spot and a team below them has to out perform them over the last 33 games. However, the Flyers have a game in hand over the teams below them. That one game in hand could be the difference between making the playoffs and not.

However, even with the Flyers having a lot going for them, they still need to continue their great play as of late. If the Flyers falter at all, a team below them can easily pass them due to the strength of the Metro Division.

But, maybe a trade at the deadline might help this team not go in that direction. I suggested a trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week, he sure would help this team. Or maybe a depth forward is a better route. Someone like Benoit Pouliot of the Buffalo Sabres who is a big powerful scoring winger or Drake Caggiula from Edmonton who the Flyers know really well from almost signing him out of college. And, doesn’t one of our coaches know him really well? … Paging Coach Dave Hakstol.

In the end, if the Flyers can go somewhere close to 16-12-5 (37 points), that would put them at 40-29-13. 93 points should be enough points to get into the playoffs. Especially with how unbalanced and tight the Metro Division is this season.

 

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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