The same cliché has been used over and over again to describe the season that the Flyers are having. “It’s a roller coaster season,” “This season has been a roller coaster ride,” so on and so forth, all meaning the same. We could sit here for hours and debate the kind of season the Flyers are having, but we all know what we’ve seen. We’ve all been watching the same season unfold, and I don’t need to tell you about what you’ve witnessed.
Flyers fans have seen many streaks take form over the past five and a half months or so. Winning, losing, points streaks, you name it, they went through it. The Flyers lost ten games straight form November 11 to December 2. Ten games in a row ended up in the L column. Directly after that losing streak, they won 6 straight. They won four games in a row from January 4 to the 13, January 18 to the 23 and February 6 to the 11. They lost four straight January 25 to February 3, and lost five straight March 1 to the 8. Not to mention, they went 12 games straight with notching at least one point.
Here’s another cliché for you: Look up the word “streaky” in the dictionary, and you’ll find the Flyers logo right next to it.
All those win streaks and losing streaks have shaped the team to the point they are at now. We have a team who is clearly overachieving, given the talent they started the season with and lack of moves made at the deadline. It’s not that Hextall doesn’t see his team as contenders this year. That’s not the case at all. Hextall has too many pieces in place for the coming years to mortgage them on one year where the team is going against all the odds and proving that they can hang with the big boys in the East.
During those streaks, they have gone on to beat some top teams in the league. They took it to Vegas at home, they brought it against the Metro-leading Washington Capitals. They even beat a young, hungry Toronto team, albeit without Auston Matthews. The Flyers can hang with top tier teams, there’s no question about it. The only question that remains is, how will they fare with some of those same teams during the last 13 games of the regular season?
The Flyers mettle will be tested, no doubt, in the coming weeks. They start out playing Vegas and Columbus at home, visiting Carolina, then back home against Washington. After that, they hit the road against Detroit, then come back home to play the Rangers. Shortly thereafter, they hit the road for three games against the Penguins, Stars, and Avalanche. They come back home to play Boston on Easter, visit the Isles two days later, then close out the season at home against Carolina, then the Rangers again.
This is the point in the season where streaks matter, and the Flyers, if they want to make some noise in the playoffs, need to hit one soon if they have any hopes of bringing a second championship to Philadelphia this year.
Realistically, sitting at 81 points currently, the Flyers have a good shot at shoring up at the very least the third Metro spot. It won’t be easy, that’s a given. Out of the thirteen games remaining for the fly guys, 4 of them are against a team that stands third or higher in their division, and six of those games are against teams battling it out for a wildcard berth. Five of those difficult games are on the road and the other five at home. Overall, they have seven home games left, and six on the road.
The Flyers have beaten the Golden Knights. They took it to Carolina, the Islanders the Caps, Columbus, and the Rangers. However, they haven’t beaten Colorado, Pittsburgh, or Boston yet this season. Those games don’t happen until later this month and early next. If the trend continues, it might be hard for the Flyers to potentially streak into the playoffs. Those three teams are all battling for playoff position at the moment, and all are very dangerous. Pittsburgh is always a tough game, we all know that. Boston is no slouch, and believe it or not, neither are the Avs after having a terrible 2016-17 season.
If the Flyers can win at least 7 of the next 13 games, it puts them at 95 points. If they can maybe sneak in two or three overtime losses, that puts them at 97-98 points. Each of those three point totals are perfectly capable of landing the Flyers in the playoffs. Their success, however, will be determined by the timeliness of those 7 wins and 2-3 overtime losses.
Statistically speaking, the Flyers should beat the Rangers, whom they play twice. They should beat Detroit as well, and more than likely, the Islanders. That’s four wins right there, but spread out over those 13 games (games 5, 6, 11, and 13). If they can find a way to win games 9, 10, and 12, against Colorado, Boston, and Carolina, respectively, they could roll into the playoffs on a five game winning streak, giving them the momentum necessary to make a push at getting out of the first round, and maybe even netting themselves a visit to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It’s all about getting hot at the right time. This is a difficult time for the Flyers to get hot, given the level of competition remaining on their docket, but it’s the best time for the Flyers to get hot. If they get hot, they prove that they can hang with the toughest competition in the NHL, and that sets them up for a potential lengthy run in the playoffs.