The Philadelphia Flyers are the hottest team in the NHL. By defeating the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Saturday night, the Flyers picked up their ninth consecutive victory. In fact, since Jan. 7, when the Flyers were sixth in the Metropolitan Division, they have gone 19-5-1. Now, they find themselves tied with the Washington Capitals with 89 points atop the division. However, they soon will face a major test.
Inside the Winning Streak
Perhaps what is most remarkable about the Flyers’ current winning streak is that eight of their nine wins occurred in regulation. Furthermore, the Flyers won by multiple goals in all of those eight games. Essentially, the Flyers are not just winning games; they are dominating them.
If there is one reason, though, to not get too excited about the current winning streak, it is that the Flyers have had fairly favorable matchups.
Six of the nine games occurred at home, where the Flyers possess a 25-5-4 record (they are 16-15-3 on the road). In addition, five of the nine opponents were teams that currently sit outside of a playoff spot. The other three opponents, Columbus (twice), Washington, and Carolina have struggled mightily against the Flyers this season. The Flyers have a combined 10-0-2 record against those teams this season.
The point is that while the nine-game winning streak is undoubtedly impressive, the Flyers were not tested a great deal. That’s about to change real quick.
The Road Ahead
The next handful of games will show just how good this team is – they are about to go on a difficult eight-game stretch.
The Flyers’ next opponents are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, and the New York Islanders.
Six of these opponents currently sit in a playoff spot. In fact, Boston, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis have the three best records in the NHL right now. The only teams on this list who do not sit in a playoff spot are Nashville and the Islanders. Nonetheless, both teams have the same number of points as the second wild-card team in their respective conferences.
As a whole, these eight opponents have a combined 8-0-3 record against the Flyers. That’s right: the Flyers do not yet have a single regulation win this season against any of these teams. The team who perhaps the Flyers most struggle against is the New York Islanders, as they are the only team on this list to have so far defeated the Flyers three times this season.
What makes this eight-game stretch even more difficult is the fact that it occurs over just a two-week period. The Flyers will not have much time at all to rest in between games. During one part of this stretch, the Flyers will play four games in six nights.
Nonetheless, the one factor in the Flyers’ favor is that five of the eight games will be at home. As mentioned earlier, the Flyers are a much better team at home than on the road. In fact, the Flyers have more wins at home this season than any other team in the NHL. Therefore, it is fortunate that the majority of these tough matchups are at home.
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The good news is that regardless of what happens during this stretch, the Flyers can expect to be in the playoffs. Their recent dominant play has set them up in prime playoff position, and it would take a monumental collapse for them to miss the playoffs.
Nonetheless, the Flyers want to keep their positive momentum going into the postseason, and they would receive a big confidence boost from defeating some of these tough opponents. So, let’s find out just how good these Flyers are.