On November 25th, the Flyers embarked on their current adventure. They have a streaky schedule this year, and this was the task: eight games out of nine on the road. The ninth is tonight in Chicago against what is arguably the best team out there, and the defending Stanley Cup champion.
So, how have they done?
Fine. Not great, but fine. You go into a stretch of games such as this one and it is not reasonable to expect a great leap forward, especially for a team like the Flyers, a team with middling expectations overall and a team that got off to a horrendous start to the season.
As they embarked on the journey, there were 10-10-2, fifth in the Metropolitan Division, two points out of a tie for a playoff spot. As they woke up this morning in Chicago, they were 13-14-3, sixth in the division, three points out of a tie for a playoff spot. This is minor slippage. It is what you would expect with so many road games in a bunch.
Vinny Lacavalier is hurt. The top line continues to snooze. Goaltender Steve Mason has come back to earth a bit. The defense still isn't very good at triggering the transition attack. Given all of that, and given the schedule, the Flyers have not shot themselves out of the playoff conversation, not at all.
The schedule is still unfavorable for a while -- there is still the annual after-Christmas trip. The opportunity for the Flyers comes after January 8th, when they play 23 of their final 39 games at home. Then we'll see. In the meantime, this is about hanging on and hanging around.
Which they are doing, however inconsistently.