The NHL is a long grueling season for every team, and the Flyers are heading into the toughest part of their’s this year.
The Flyers left Minnesota on Tuesday night just 6 points out of the last wildcard spot with 27 games remaining. Teams they are chasing include Pittsburgh, Montreal, Carolina, and Buffalo. Sounds promising, especially the way the team has been playing recently, going 10-1-1 in their last 12 games. In the last 30 days the Flyers have the 2nd best record in the NHL. To say the last quarter of the season is brutal is an understatement. They face top 10 teams in the league 11 more times this season, three more meetings with each Washington and the Islanders. They also have 5 back to back games left, one of which they just finished. So there is little room for error if the orange and black want to stay in playoff contention.
The 11 games against top 10 teams are for the most part bunched together in March. The toughest probably being when they play 5 games in 8 days with two games being home and away back to back games. Those 5 teams are the Islanders, Capitals, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and the Rangers.
There are also 14 division games left, which the Flyers have struggled with so far this season, going 5-8-1. March is going to make or break the orange and black. They have been slightly better at home, 14-10-4, compared to on the road, 11-13-3, but that won’t matter much as out of their remaining games 13 are home and 14 are away. To add to the uphill climb, they face 10 teams currently above .500 and 6 below .500 the rest of the way. If you compare how the season ended last year, in regards to points, the Flyers will need about 39 points over the last 27 games to crack the playoffs.
What will really swing momentum, good or bad, will be how the Flyers do in the remaining back to back games they have. Their record is not terrible in back to back games this year going 5-6. The Flyers did not have Carter Hart the entire season however, who seems to have inspired and is leading the team ever since he arrived with the big boys. As much as the team would love to start Hart in every remaining game, they can’t. So Stolarz and/or Elliott will need to step up. Stolarz already seems up to the task. Elliott is recovering from an injury and is playing with the Phantoms currently.
There are no advantages for the Flyers on the remaining schedule, but they sure have a goaltender advantage the rest of the way in Carter Hart. He is giving this team an identity they desperately needed. Two questions remain unanswered that the team will soon answer. Did the team get hot at the wrong time? How long can they keep up this stellar play? Only time will tell, but if they keep playing with heart and behind Hart, I like their chances to crack the playoffs.
By: Kevin Thaete (@BigKT23)