The start was good. But the lifting will be heavy moving forward.
So far this season, the Flyers have done a decent job at picking up points through a four-game season-opening homestand and a three-game Western Canada swing, compiling a 4-2-1 record through the month of October.
But before we applaud, there’s more work to be done.
The Flyers have mostly been good, yes. But so is the rest of the Metropolitan Division. We knew it would be tough coming in, as the Capitals, Hurricanes, Islanders and Penguins are all returning playoff teams from a year ago and figure to be in the mix. The Rangers and Devils were a little bit of a question mark and the Blue Jackets were supposed to take a step back.
It’s still early, but it’s still an eight-team race.
And that’s what is going to make divisional games so much more important this season. The Flyers somehow have yet to play a game inside their division but will be thrown into the fire with meetings with the Capitals and Penguins this week while a date looms with the Hurricanes the following week.
With the current league setup, a maximum of five teams from each division can qualify for the playoffs. Top three are in automatically, and two more can qualify for wild cards if they can finish higher in the standing than their counterparts in the Atlantic Division, which appears to have four teams that could be very strong.
What this all means is the Flyers will need to finish above at least three teams in the Metro, maybe four, just to sniff the postseason. It makes divisional matchups all that much more important.
Beating Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers was great. But it’s not nearly as impactful as a victory over Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals could be.
Revenge on the Vancouver Canucks was terrific, but a regulation win over the Penguins would be more important.
Through Sunday’s games, every team in the Metro had a .500 points percentage or better — even the Devils and Blue Jackets. It includes those pesky Penguins, who have played the first chunk of the season without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and a few games without Kris Letang. The Islanders are also weathering the early storm, playing out a stretch of 13 consecutive road games to start the season. They will both gain strength as the season progresses.
A 4-2-1 record was good enough to place the Flyers in only a tie for fifth in points and a tie for fourth in points percentage.
They’ll need to do even better when they line up against other teams from the Metro. It starts this week.
The fifth annual USA Hockey Warrior Hockey Classic will be hosted by the Flyers Warriors this weekend from Nov. 5-7 at Flyers Training Center in Voorhees and Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell.
The tournament will showcase 27 teams of disabled veterans from all across the country.
The inaugural event took place in Arlington, Virginia, in 2017 and the most recent occurred in Las Vegas in October 2019 when the Flyers Warriors won their division. Coached by former Flyer Brad Marsh, the Flyers Warriors will have three teams playing among the seven tiers of competition.
All games are open to the public with free admission. A schedule can be found at https://www.usahockey.com/warriorclassic.