The Flyers time is NOW. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is not. Don’t look now, but Philly is in a prime position to move up in the standings. Only six points separate them from the Metro Division leading NY Rangers. Likewise, just five points could drop them back to the bottom. They are sitting comfortably in fourth place and are currently the holders of the final playoff spot for the Eastern Conference
There is some good news for the Flyers coming up. Some injured players are expected to be back relatively soon. They are starting to see some good play out of their players. They are also running high on a three game winning streak.
If you take a quick glance at their upcoming schedule, they will have seven games between now and the end of November. Four of them are at home. Every game, except for Saturday’s game against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights, are against divisional rivals.
If there is a perfect time in the season for a young, developing Flyers team, this is it. This is their moment to shine. They have one game against the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Devils, and Hurricanes. They also have two against the Islanders. Let’s take a look at each of these opponents.
They’ve faced each other twice and have split the series thus far. Philly has played the Canes hard both times. A win here will help this team feel good about their chances. Hart looked great in his first start in a few weeks in a 3-1 victory on Wednesday. The Flyers struggle in Carolina for some reason and look for the Caniacs to be loud and proud. Still, Philadelphia knows they can do battle with this team.
New York Rangers
They are the current top dog in the division and have owned the Flyers’ number the last few seasons. Not gonna lie, it’s always hard when Broadway faces off against Broad Street. The Rangers look good. They’ve lost only three games all season. They struggle with scoring (20th overall), but have the best defense in the league, second best power play unit, and sixth best penalty kill. The key to stopping them is stopping Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin….better said than done.
New Jersey Devils
They are banged up right now, dealing with injuries to Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and now Timo Meier. This is a great time to take advantage of a team that is in the doldrums. While the Devils are still frisky, they are reeling without their top playmakers. They just broke out of a three-game losing streak, but have still lost four of their last six. To make the playoffs, you gotta beat up on the teams you can beat up on.
Columbus Blue Jackets
This team is falling apart and going nowhere fast. They are the worst team in the Eastern Conference and among the NHL’s worst. However, that can be a trap. Bad teams can sneak up on you and steal one, like we saw San Jose do not that long ago. For whatever reason, Columbus kept embarrassing the Flyers last year. They are not scoring goals and their “much improved defense” is lacking.
New York Islanders
They don’t know who or what they are. Because of this, they will continue to be a mid-level team. The Flyers could take advantage of this. When you sport a team with Mathew Barzal, Kyle Palmieri, and Bo Hovart, you should be better than seventh place. However, they aren’t scoring. They rank 29th in scoring and in penalty kill. Playing them twice should be a boon for Philly.
Picking up a potential 12 points against divisional opponents is a dream come true. They can put their rivals in the dust by gaining ground on them. Points made against your divisional rivals are always the best kind of points to earn in the standings. Only the Flyers can make it happen. Especially when you consider their first two games in December are a home-and-home series against Pittsburgh.
It still is a long season. However, these next nine games, eight of which are against the Metro Division, can go a long way into seeing where this team is going to be. Will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? Will they make the playoffs or still be on the outside?
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