By rattling off their seventh win in a row on Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers are now “at .500.”
That thought really paints a picture for their broader situation, as increasingly impressive as this run is becoming.
The Flyers improved to 23-23-6 by defeating the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 in overtime. They now have 52 points in exactly 52 regular-season games. As of this writing, the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets hold a nine-point lead on the Flyers for the East’s final playoff spot, and Columbus also has two games in hand, although that will go down to one after the Blue Jackets’ Saturday game against the St. Louis Blues wraps up.
Considering games in hand and other factors, it’s not even clear that the Flyers will finish ahead of the Hurricanes or Rangers, let alone be able to leapfrog the other teams hoping to climb the ladder:
A lot of negative thoughts bubble up, at least for those zooming out to the future.
- Are the Flyers just messing up their draft lottery odds? They simply don’t stand a very good chance of closing this gap with 30 games remaining; not in a league brimming with “three-point games.”
- Would a hot finish discourage more necessary chances?
This thought hinges on how fans feel about interim head coach Scott Gordon.
If you like the way he thinks and leads, then it would be great for Philly to be pushed to remove that “interim” tag.
If you’re not so sold, or simply would rather the Flyers justify those rumors by bringing in Joel Quenneville, then there’s a rough purgatory scenario where Philly doesn’t get as good of a draft pick and settles for a coach who might not be as effective.
(Personally, the sample size is just too small to know for sure.)
On the other hand, there are some nice benefits from this hot streak that don’t inspire such mixed feelings.
For one thing, if this is a true breakthrough for Carter Hart, then perhaps he’s accelerating his growth as a goalie of the future. He’s certainly doing everything he can to help Philly win games, as the young netminder is now on a six-game winning streak of his own.
(Waits for ” … And they probably won’t trade this goalie like they traded Sergei Bobrovsky” jokes.)
Also, the Flyers’ power play has generated a league-leading eight goals during this streak, and those rising tides could raise all trade deadline boats.
As painful as it would likely be to part ways with Wayne Simmonds, it would probably be the right thing to do, as he’s already 30, and thus would already be a risky extension, even before you get into the thorny details of James van Riemsdyk making him a bit redundant. It’s been mentioned that the Flyers haven’t been bowled over with the offers they’ve received so far for Simmonds, but GMs are often guilty of recency bias, so what if Simmonds goes on fire?
Beyond Simmonds, there are other potential trade targets who could bump their value up significantly, whether they get their points on the man advantage or even-strength.
Of course, the most obvious plus side is that life is short, and winning is a lot more fun than losing, so we’ll see how long the Flyers can keep this streak going.