The Flyers are soaring. Nine straight wins. A young goalie maturing before our eyes. A team playing with a relentless style that has awakened a once-disillusioned fan base, making the Wells Fargo Center electric again.
With 14 regular-season games remaining, the Flyers have a chance to finish first in the Metro Division and secure home-ice advantage in at least the first two playoff rounds. That’s extra important this season because the Flyers have an NHL-best 25-5-4 home record.
The long winning streak is no guarantee, of course, that the playoffs will produce a Stanley Cup (see below), but it has created a buzz that hasn’t been around these parts since Danny Briere and Co. were making a remarkable playoff run in 2010.
You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox twice a week during the Flyers season. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter (@broadstbull). Thank you for reading.
— Sam Carchidi (email@example.com)
So what does the Flyers’ winning streak, which will be in jeopardy Tuesday against powerful Boston, mean from a historical perspective?
Did the six other Flyers teams that won at least nine straight games use that as a springboard to a Stanley Cup?
You might be disappointed by the answer: no. But two of those six teams did reach the Stanley Cup Final, so maybe a long playoff run is in store.
Here is a look at those streaking Flyers teams from yesteryear and how their seasons finished:
And now, nine straight wins, starting with a 5-1 victory over visiting Columbus on Feb. 18. Before that game, the Flyers were in the second wild-card spot. Will the streak end Tuesday against Boston? Will it reach double digits and propel the Flyers to a Metro title and a long playoff run? Stay tuned.
Based on their remaining strength of schedules, the Washington Capitals should win the Metropolitan Division title.
Then again, non-playoff teams such as Buffalo and Detroit have been spoilers lately, playing havoc with the races.
Entering Monday, the Metro-leading Capitals had the easiest remaining schedule among the NHL’s 31 teams, according to the league. Their opponents had a combined .514 points percentage. That was before the Caps were jolted by host Buffalo on Monday, 3-2, in a shootout.
The second-place Flyers had the 10th-toughest remaining schedule, as their opponents had a combined points percentage of .568. Third-place Pittsburgh had the 13th-most-difficult schedule, as their remaining opponents had a .563 points percentage.
Washington has 90 points with 13 games left. The Flyers (89 points) and Penguins (84) each have 14 games remaining.
With a win over Boston on Tuesday, the Flyers would move into first place in the Metro for just the third time since the division was formed in 2013.
Today: vs. Boston, 7 p.m. (NBCSP). The Flyers are 2-0 against the powerful B’s this season, winning twice in shootouts.
Thursday: at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m. (NBCSP). Tampa, which is without injured Steven Stamkos, has won a pair of tight games against the Flyers this season. The Bolts are trying to overtake Boston in the Atlantic Division.
Saturday: vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m. (NBCSP). The Flyers will be aiming to avenge a 4-1 loss on Dec. 14.
Sunday: vs. Edmonton, 1:30 p.m. (NBCSP). The only local appearance of Connor McDavid (assuming he returns from an illness) and the Oilers, who spanked the Flyers in Edmonton on Oct. 16, 6-3, to ruin Carter Hart’s homecoming.
Tuesday, March 17: vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m. (NBCSN). Coach Craig Berube, center Brayden Schenn and the Stanley Cup champs will try to avenge their 4-3 OT loss on Jan. 15. “Gloria” will not be on the Wells Fargo Center’s playlist.
Will Nolan Patrick ever be ready for contact (and play) this season? — Phil Checchia (@pac0796) via Twitter
Answer: Thanks for the question, Phil.
Patrick skated again with the Flyers on Monday and has participated in several practices lately, but he still isn’t able to absorb contact because of his migraine disorder. In the past, the center and GM Chuck Fletcher said they felt Patrick would play this season, but time is running short.
From here, it seems unlikely Patrick will play until 2020-21. Adding centers Derek Grant and Nate Thompson at the trade deadline gave the Flyers some much-needed help at that position.