The 2019-20 NHL regular season is right around the corner. With training camps throughout the league ready to rev up, there’s no better time than now to take a look at some of this season’s highlight matchups for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers enter the season with new leadership behind the bench and some fresh faces on the ice, promising an interesting season ahead. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the more important dates on this season’s schedule.
Flyers Open Season Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Blackhawks in Prague
While it’s hard to believe, the Flyers will play their first-ever regular season game outside of North America when they kick off the season against the Blackhawks in this season’s NHL Global Series being held in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Flyers are no stranger to international play, having matched up against the likes of CSKA Moscow (1976, 1990), Spartak Moscow (1977), Krylya Sovetov (1979), the USSR (1984), and Dynamo Moscow (1991), but the Flyers played those games in the friendly confines of the Flyers’ former home, the Spectrum.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have had more recent experience playing internationally, taking on the Florida Panthers in a pair of games to open the 2009-10 season in Helsinki, Finland.
The Flyers will look to continue their strong play against the Blackhawks in regular-season contests, having won the last three meetings and 23 of the last 30. In their 141st regular-season game against one another, the Flyers and Blackhawks will represent the most popular hockey league on a world stage, a win-win for both organizations and the NHL as a whole.
Simmonds Returns to Philly Wednesday, Oct. 6 vs. Devils
After opening the season in Prague against the Blackhawks, the Flyers will return to U.S. soil five days later for their 2019-20 home opener. Not only will this season’s home opener come against division rival, the New Jersey Devils, but it will also mark the return of fan-favorite Wayne Simmonds to the Wells Fargo Center.
While many beloved players have made their way through Philadelphia, few seemed born to be a Flyer like Simmonds. Through eight seasons with the team, he endeared himself to the area and the fanbase. Though he’s made it clear he wants to hear boos when he returns to Philadelphia, he will likely be disappointed, no matter how hard it might be seeing him donning the red and black of a Devils’ uniform.
Home openers are always fun, but this one will have special meaning for Flyers fans. The narrative of Philadelphia fans given by the national media isn’t usually a positive one, but if you want to see what they’re all about, this is the game to watch. Simmonds may hear some playful booing at some point in the game, but the outpouring of appreciation and love will be on full display all night long.
Lost in all the emotion of this one will be the Flyers preceding, and annual, road trip through Western Canada. After the home opener, the Flyers will hit the road for three games in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
Longest Road Trip of the Season Begins Saturday, Dec. 28 vs. Sharks
The Flyers’ second road trip west begins in late December, with the start of the season’s longest road swing — six games — beginning in San Jose against the Sharks.
Home for the Sharks since their expansion season in 1993, the former San Jose Arena, now the SAP Center in San Jose, has been a house of horrors for the Flyers in recent years. After winning six of their first seven meetings in San Jose, the Flyers have won there just twice since 1997, going 2-9-2 during that stretch. Overall, the Flyers have posted a losing record in San Jose, going 8-10-2 at the Shark Tank.
After taking on the Sharks, the Flyers will travel through the west coast with games against the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes. Before returning home, the Flyers will have one more away game, visiting the Carolina Hurricanes to wrap up the road trip.
Long road trips are an opportunity for teams to bond with one another, and this road trip comes at the halfway mark of the regular season, only adding to its importance. Starting it off with a win in San Jose, a place the Flyers have had little success in recent years, could go a long way toward determining where they go in the second half of the season.
Crosby and the Penguins Make First Visit to Philly Tuesday, Jan. 21
Unsurprisingly, another rivalry matchup makes this list. In late January, the Penguins come to Philadelphia for the first of two meetings at the Wells Fargo Center.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and the Flyers and Penguins first matchup in Philly comes nearly three full months after their first meeting of the season, which is in late October in Pittsburgh.
Not only will this be Flyers fans’ first opportunity to shower Crosby and the Penguins crew with a proper Philly welcome, it’s also the last game for the Flyers before their mandatory bye week.
The bye week was originally put in place to allow players to participate in the Olympics. However, since that agreement went away in recent years, it has become mandated by the league to give players a much-needed break from the ice, which also includes the NHL All-Star Weekend.
The Flyers would like nothing more than to go into the break coming off a big win. They’ll resume their schedule on Friday, Jan. 31 on the road against, you guessed it, the same Penguins team.
Vigneault and Hayes Return to Madison Square Garden With Flyers Sunday, March 1
On the first day of March, Flyers first-year head coach Alain Vigneault and former New York Ranger Kevin Hayes make their return to MSG.
Vigneault manned the Rangers bench from 2013-2018, helping the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. In five seasons with the team, he finished with a record of 226-147-37. After a season away from coaching, he signed a multi-year deal in the offseason to become the 21st head coach in Flyers history.
Meanwhile, Hayes posted 92 goals and 137 assists in 382 games in parts of five seasons with the Rangers. Hayes was traded from the Rangers to the Winnipeg Jets at last season’s trade deadline, before being dealt to the Flyers in the offseason where he signed a seven-year, $50-million contract with the Flyers.
The March 1 matchup in New York also marks the 300th regular season meeting between the Flyers and Rangers, adding more intrigue to this long-standing rivalry. The Flyers have had recent success in New York, winning the last three meetings with the Rangers at MSG. Also, the Flyers enter the season having won six of their last seven games against the Rangers.