The 2015-16 season for the Philadelphia Flyers is already a success if you ask many within the organization. A year ago, the Flyers missed the playoffs, finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division and their team isn’t that much better this season.
The biggest change from the 2014-15 Flyers to the 2015-16 Flyers is the addition of Shayne Gostisbehere, and that could have not happened. If not for Mark Streit suffering an injury early this season, and the Flyers not having the cap space to make any other moves, Gostibehere might never have joined the team.
Prior to his arrival, the Flyers were 6-11 and falling fast. Fast forward to the present and the Flyers are fighting for a playoff spot against the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins.
As of this writing, the Flyers have 92 points, one behind both the Red Wings and the Bruins, but they have a game in hand. However, it’s worth remembering the Flyers’ final two games are against the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins and against their division rival, the New York Islanders. Regardless, the team remains alive and is still fighting for a playoff spot. Then again, they’ve been playing playoff hockey for the last two months.
Philadelphia Flyers Have Snuck Into Playoffs Before
If the 2015-16 Flyers make the playoffs, it will be a great story filled with adversity and determination. They’re going to have to steal the last wild-card spot from either the Red Wings or the Bruins and the bad news is that both teams have the first tiebreaker on the Flyers.
But this isn’t the first time the Flyers have had to sneak into the playoffs. In the eight seasons from 2007-08 to 2014-15, Philadelphia has made the playoffs six times. However, what might be more interesting is that of those six times, they have snuck into the playoffs by less than three points, three times.
They first accomplished this in the 2007-08 season, when they made the playoffs as a sixth seed with 95 points, but the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators and eighth-seeded Bruins both were just one point behind with 94, and the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes finished the season with 92 points. This gave the Flyers just a three-point margin as they barely made the playoffs.
Philadelphia did it again during the 2009-10 season when they made the playoffs with 88 points as the seventh seed, while the Montreal Canadiens were the eighth seed also with 88 points and the New York Rangers missed the playoffs with 87 points.
And think back to their last playoff appearance in the 2013-14 season when they made the playoffs with 94 points. But then consider that both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Red Wings took wild-card spots with 93 points, while the Washington Capitals just missed the playoffs with 90 points.
The point is that the Flyers have been in this situation before and history shows they know how to handle it. Only coming away with a point in their recent overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t ideal, but they’re not out of the playoff race yet. Their best and longest-tenured players have been through this before; they know how to keep their team focused.
Captain Claude Giroux spoke on the topic of their playoff pursuit and had this to say.
Yeah I mean, tell us two months ago we’d be in this position, we would take it. We played really good in the second and third period. Maybe but it’s adversity. We have a good test in front of us and we have a group that we’re going to take that challenge. We just have to worry about next game now.
And here’s what head coach Dave Hakstol had to say on the subject.
This has been a back and forth battle the last 6-8 weeks. And we’ve got two games left in this battle before the end of the regular season. So, we’re gonna stay with what we do. You know, we need to play a little bit better than we did in the first 20 minutes tonight. But most importantly, we’ve got to come back to work and get ready and get prepared for our final home game of the regular season here on Saturday afternoon.
But if you’ve watched the last handful of games, the Flyers have not looked good. They’ve essentially been playing playoff hockey for the last two months and it’s looking like they’re finally running out of gas right as the season is ending and they need points more than ever.
The team is still mathematically in contention for the final wild-card playoff spot, but they’re fighting uphill with a tired roster. History shows they have experience doing this, but they need to execute in their final two games against the Penguins and Islanders.
Featured Image was provided by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers
Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers