It’s crunch time in the NHL as we reach the home stretch. A few teams have already solidified their position in the postseason, but a majority of teams are still battling it out for their spots.
The Philadelphia Flyers are 15 games away from the end of the regular season. They currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a one-point lead on both the New York Rangers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The remaining games for the Flyers may be the toughest part of the schedule for them.
With the exception of the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres, every team the Flyers will play is not only above .500, but a top team in their division.
They will face the NHL point leading St. Louis Blues twice, defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks once, Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins twice and archrival Pittsburgh Penguins once.
Most teams facing this type of challenge could be counted out already, but the Flyers have given hope to fans that may suggest otherwise.
Philadelphia has the hottest player in the NHL in Claude Giroux. Since Dec. 11, no other NHL player has scored more points than him. With 49 points since that date, he is closely followed by Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (45 points) and Toronto’s Phil Kessel (44 points).
The Flyer captain has proven his early season outings were merely a fluke, and even some of the brightest stars can go cold. As long as he stays hot, Philadelphia has a legitimate chance to win every game they play in (they won’t, but they will have a chance to win each game).
Of the remaining games left to play, there will be a few that will be tougher than the rest.
Wednesday, March 26, at the New York Rangers
Both New York and Philadelphia are fighting for a coveted spot in the top three of the Metro, so any meeting between the two teams with have a playoff-like atmosphere.
With Philadelphia wearing their away whites, they will face the tough challenge of coming away with two points in a hostile Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers biggest advantage: They currently sit one point above the NYR, but have played two less games on the year.
Tuesday, April 1, at the St. Louis Blues
St. Louis is arguably the best team in the NHL. When looking at their roster it’s hard to find a weakness because of how incredibly deep they are.
Philadelphia will have to go into St. Louis and play in an unfamiliar environment against a team that couldn’t be hotter.
The Flyers biggest advantage: They will have the best player on the ice in Claude Giroux.
Saturday, April 12, at the Pittsburgh Penguins
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It will be an all-out brawl.
Although Philadelphia basically owns the Consol Energy Center (8-1-1 record there since it has been opened), it won’t be an easy win.
The Flyers will likely be fighting for a crucial two points to get into the playoffs. Pittsburgh may be in the intriguing position of ensuring that Philadelphia doesn’t obtain those points, which may end the Flyers playoff hopes.
The Flyers biggest advantage: Pittsburgh may decide to rest star players for the playoffs since they’ve clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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