The 2013-14 Philadelphia Flyers have best represented the identity of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Despite their up and down, yo-yo-like season, however, the Broad Street Bullies are very much in the playoff hunt. But even if and when they do punch their ticket to the postseason, Craig Berube’s team will most certainly want to avoid these five teams who have been frustrating the Flyers for some time.
1. Boston Bruins
Boston’s dominance over the Flyers only seems fair. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Philadelphia erased a three-game deficit and discarded the Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals. Since then, Boston has charged Philly rent to be on the same ice, frustrating the Flyers through the past 17 games.
The Bruins are the only NHL team against whom the Flyers have a sub-.500 record on home ice. Today, they try to buck the trend.
— Sarah Baicker (@sbbaicker) March 30, 2014
In their last 17 meetings with the Bruins, the Flyers have dropped 13 of them, including a four-game sweep in the 2011 playoffs. This season, Claude Julien’s team continued frustrating the Flyers as they sit atop the entire league with 111 points through 77 games. In their most recent meeting, Tuukka Rask mystified Philadelphia with 49 saves en route to his 100th career victory.
“The Bruins are one of two NHL teams that have a winning all-time record vs. the Flyers. Montreal is the other. Boston also is the only team with a winning all-time record vs. the Flyers on the road.” — The Sports Xchange
2. New York Rangers
Although the Flyers have won three of their last five meetings against the Rangers, Madison Square Garden has remained a house of horrors for the orange and black. The Blue Shirts have enjoyed frustrating the Flyers, winning eight straight games at MSG, including a 3-1 victory on Mar. 26th. The last time the Flyers walked out of Manhattan victorious was on Feb. 20th, 2011.
“It’s a tough team to play against,” said Flyers goalie Steve Mason after their most recent loss at MSG. “They have some big bodies, it’s just a tough building to play in. But at this time of the year we have to have a better effort.”
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist could have a lot to do with that, however. King Henrik has reigned over Philly, frustrating the Flyers with a 24-11-3 career record and four shutouts.
“The Rangers have outscored Philadelphia by a 31-9 margin during their eight- game home win streak in the series, with Lundqvist between the pipes for each of those victories.” — The Sports Network
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Flyers can thank their early dominance for their overall winning record of 49-37-3-8 against the Bolts. That’s because the Lightning flat out have Philadelphia’s number of late. With the season finale yet to be played against each other this season, Tampa Bay has won 10 of their last 13 meetings against the Flyers, including three straight dating back to last season.
Tampa has been frustrating the Flyers by outscoring them 14-7 throughout their current three-game win streak. Whether it’s Guy Boucher, or John Cooper at the helm for the Bolts, Philadelphia’s winless streak at the Tampa Bay Times Forum dates back to the 2011 season.
— Sean Spellman (@NYGSpellman) February 11, 2012
Tampa went from using a 1-3-1 zone under Guy Boucher, to employing their team speed to outgun their opponents under current head coach John Cooper. With youth like Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, the Lightning won’t be short on team speed or goal scoring for some time to come. Especially with star forward Steven Stamkos, who has a career 10 goals and 16 points against the Flyers.
“They have a lot of forwards who can skate, and if you’re not responsible defensively, it’s going to hurt us,” said Giroux.
4. New Jersey Devils
If one team can be held responsible for Philadelphia’s Stanley Cup drought, perhaps it is the New Jersey Devils. Although the two teams have eliminated each other from the playoffs on two occasions apiece, it was the Devils who advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals (winning one) each time they bounced the Flyers.
In their last six meetings, the Devils and Flyers have exchanged wins, with New Jersey edging the Flyers 2-1 in their most recent meeting on Mar. 11th. What’s even more perplexing is New Jersey’s success at the Wells Fargo Center, a venue just about every other team finds difficult to play in. For the Devils, it’s been their playground for frustrating the Flyers.
Since eliminating the Devils in the 2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Flyers have only won three times in regulation when facing the Devils at home. Martin Brodeur has equally enjoyed his time in the City of Brotherly Love. New Jersey’s Mar. 11th win over the Flyers improved Brodeur’s overall record against Philadelphia to 50-31-10.
“That’s why he’s going to go down as one of the best goaltenders that’s ever played the game,” said Scott Hartnell. “It’s not the traditional style of goaltending, but it seems to get the job done.”
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
In their first season in the Eastern Conference, and Philadelphia’s Metropolitan Division, the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t wasted much time frustrating the Flyers. The Jackets recently wrapped up a season series victory over the Flyers on Apr. 3rd, giving them the 3-1 season edge. That’s not to say Nationwide Arena has been accommodating to the Bullies.
The Flyers have not only dropped three straight games to Columbus overall, but four straight in the Buckeye State. Philadelphia was last victorious in Columbus on Dec. 13th, 2005. And although the Flyers hold a slim overall head-to-head lead against the Jackets, the Blue Jackets appear to have the Flyers figured out, winning five of their last eight meetings.
Blue Jackets keep creeping closer to the Flyers position, next game against CBJ a big one.
— Flyers Fans in DC (@flyersfansindc) April 2, 2014
— Kristyn Repke??? (@kristynrepke) April 4, 2014
The added storylines between the two teams is already building into a new rivalry. A year to the day that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren traded for then Jackets goalie Steve Mason, it was Mason who was out-dueled by the former Flyer, Sergei Bobrovsky. The Flyers now have Bobrovsky’s shutout hanging over their head, as well as his Vezina Trophy he won after being traded.
“We know it means a lot for him to be back here in Philly,” said Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky. “When you get traded from a team, it always feels good to go into the building and beat them. He was huge. He gave us an opportunity when we weren’t at our best in the first.”
No Need To Panic?
There is good news for the Flyers, despite the doom and gloom listed above. Not only are they currently sitting in a playoff spot after their franchise worst start to the season, they have also proven they can skate with (and beat) anyone.
Philly has already taken the season series against the Metropolitan Division Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, including the last three. They’ve also taken three of the last four against the Western Conference heavyweight Chicago Blackhawks dating back to 2011, and have erased the winless drought in San Jose that stretches back to 1999.
They’ll have to find their scoring touch, though, if they plan on rebounding from their recent struggles. And should they see any of these teams in the playoffs, they’ll most certainly look to the leadership of their captain, Claude Giroux.
“At this time of year sometimes it doesn’t matter, the result, it’s just how you feel as a team, how you played as a team, and I think we’re pretty happy with how we played.”