October has historically not been kind to the Philadelphia Flyers. Over the last six seasons since the lockout the team has gone 26-32-6, never breaking the .500 mark in that stretch. That bad juju continues heading into the 2019-20 season, though it’s turned up ten fold this year.
The Flyers will play a preseason game in Lausanne, Switzerland on September 30. They will then travel almost 600 miles to open their season in Prague, Czech Republic on October 4 as part of the NHL’s Global Series. After a five day layoff, the Flyers will have their home opener against their rival the New Jersey Devils on October 9. Immediately following that, they will depart for their Western Canada road trip which usually takes place around Christmas. After spending a week visiting the Canucks, Flames, and Oilers, on the 12, 15, and 16 respectively, they head back to Philadelphia for a two game homestand against the Stars and Golden Knights on the 19 and 21. They head back out on the road for a game in Chicago on the 24, go back home for a single game against the Blue Jackets on the 26, before a final two game road trip to the Islanders and Penguins on the 27 and 29 respectively.
That is about as messy a schedule as you can have. Games on two continents, three countries, two Canadian providences, and three states. Over 15,000 miles traveled, playing just four games at the Wells Fargo Center.
Given the competition level within the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference in general, the Flyers can’t afford to have yet another slow start, but this schedule will not be easy to navigate through.
The Flyers play 11 games against 10 teams, as they play their season series against Chicago just eight games into the season. The caliber of opponents is strong as six of the 11 teams they face were playoff teams last season, while the other four have all improved to some level. The Devils made some decent additions over the summer, including first overall pick Jack Hughes and star defenseman PK Subban. Vancouver has a stockpile of young forwards and a top goalie prospect in Thatcher Demko. Edmonton is a hot mess, but with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the roster, they have the potential to be dangerous. Chicago has made a couple moves over the summer, mainly on defense, to try and propel themselves back in the playoff hunt.
With the additions the Flyers made both behind the bench and on the ice, theoretically, this should help avoid a slow start from a hockey perspective, but the long travel schedule could fatigue the team in ways they can’t control. Thinking positively, the five day break between the game in Prague and their home opener against the Devils is enough time to shake off the jet lag, and a western road trip is just usual fare for the Flyers this time of year.
Hopefully the Flyers can overcome the odds and have their first good October since before the lockout. The talent on the ice is there, hopefully they can overcome the hard travel schedule to get the early jump on the Metro division and be in the playoff hunt all season rather than having to fight and claw for every point late in the season.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com