The Philadelphia Flyers will play in the NHL’s East Division under the league’s 2020-21 divisional realignment plan. This division will contain six teams from the Metropolitan Division (Flyers; New Jersey Devils; New York Rangers, New York Islanders; Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins) and two from the Atlantic Division (Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres).
Of course the Flyers are already quite familar with those Metropolitan opponents. That is because, typically, they square off against these teams four times per season. They are less familar, though, with the Atlantic teams, as they usually play each other just three times per season. Still, the Flyers have had some recent success versus the Bruins and Sabres. Let’s take a look at these head-to-head matchups over the past few years.
Interestingly, this past season, the Flyers’ last game before the NHL’s stoppage of play and their first game after the NHL’s resumption of play were both against the Bruins. The former was a 2-0 defeat, while the latter was a 4-1 victory. Fortunately, the latter was more important, as it was a Round-Robin playoff game.
This victory was also more in line with the Flyers’ other recent performances versus the Bruins. They won two of three regular season games over Boston in each of the past two seasons. Over the past five seasons, they have won eight of 15. That tally is impressive when we consider that the Bruins have been one of the league’s best teams during this span.
This recent success helps make up for years of the Bruins dominating the series. In fact, the franchise still holds a 107-73-21 advantage in the all-time series. Regardless, the Flyers care about the present and they have proven that they can now hang with Boston.
Unlike the Bruins, the Sabres have been a favorable opponent in both, recent years and historically. The Flyers met Buffalo twice last season, and won both games by a combined score of 9-2.
Furthermore, the Flyers won the season series in each of the past four years. In total, they won nine of 14 games in the past five seasons. It has helped that Buffalo has been a weak team during this span. They have failed to qualify for the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons. During four of those, they finished in last place in the Atlantic.
Historically, the Flyers have maintained a similar level of success versus the Sabres. Philadelphia holds a 92-69-20 record in the all-time series.
Why This Matters
It’s important that Philadelphia can compete with Boston and Buffalo because they will be seeing these teams a lot in 2020-21. In fact, every team will play a regular-season schedule comprised of divisional opponents only. For the Flyers, this means they will face each team in the East Division eight times.
These divisional newcomers are taking the place of the Metropolitan’s Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. Unlike the Sabres, but like the Bruins, the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes have been serious playoff contenders in the past couple of seasons. The Flyers have had mixed success against these teams, going a combined 7-0-1 in 2019-20 but 0-6-2 in 2018-19.
With a new season and new rosters (perhaps most notably the Sabres signing of Taylor Hall), there is no guarantee that Buffalo and Boston will be easy opponents in 2020-21. Still, at least for now, the Flyers cannot complain about the departure of two playoff contenders from their division.