This weekend was not good to the Philadelphia Flyers. They lost to the Lightning on Saturday in what turned out to be an odd game. They played better than the Lightning for stretches at a time, but were ultimately unable to solve Anders Lindback more than three times. On Sunday night they were beaten by the New York Rangers who jumped on the Flyers in the first period. Even though they have fallen out of the top three in the division (they still sit in the first wild card playoff spot), they have an opportunity over the next two weeks to once again make a move for second in the division.
Their next six opponents have a combined record of 108-128-39 (NYI counted twice because of home and home series). Over the course of the next six games, all 12 points are up for grabs. There is no game in which the Flyers should be nervous or weary. With the exception of Carolina, the Flyers have already beaten each team they will play at least once.
On Tuesday night the Flyers take on the NHL worst Buffalo Sabres. No game in the NHL is a given, but if the Flyers want to solidify their spot as a playoff contender, they will take care of business in Buffalo. The Flyers will come home on Thursday night to take on the Nashville Predators. The Predators are a solid team, but they have not kept up in the Western Conference. It will be a tough test for Philly.
Next weekend the Flyers will have a home and home series with the Metropolitan worst New York Islanders. The Islanders have been on a roll lately, going 8-2 in their last 10 games, but I still believe the Flyers are the better team of the two. In two games against a relatively weak division opponent, 3-4 points is a must. Following the home and home games against the Islanders the Flyers will take on the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. Both of those teams are fighting alongside the Flyers for the playoffs, but they are also beatable opponents.
After the game against the Blue Jackets, the Flyers must face the Bruins, Ducks, Kings, Sharks, and Avalanche before the Olympic break. Although I am not prepared to write those games off as losses, it will be tough to get points in that stretch. The Flyers need to win their upcoming games to set them up for the hard pre-Olympic stretch.
The next six games are very important for the Philadelphia Flyers. Not only do they give the Flyers an opportunity to climb back up the ladder of the Metropolitan Division, but they can also separate themselves from the teams below them. The Islanders, Blue Jackets, and Hurricanes are all nipping at the Flyers heels in the standings. Over the course of the next two weeks, the Flyers can make a serious statement to the Metropolitan Division.