The Flyers have four games this week, and all of them look to be a test for this team that's been unstoppable of late. They take on Colorado at home on Tuesday night, and while the Avalanche haven't had much to brag about this season, they beat Philly way back in October when the Flyers were floundering in the fourth game of a six game winless stretch to start the season.
Following that game, there was a closed-door meeting that sparked the team, leading to two overtime losses before four straight wins. The Flyers are a different team than the one that lost to the Avalanche on October 16, but that doesn't mean they can take the Avs lightly.
They beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions on Monday night 3-2 in Detroit. Goalie Andrew Raycroft has had a terrible season statistically so far, with a 3.50 GAA and a .839 save percentage, but he absolutely stood on his head against the Wings, making 34 saves. He won't face the Flyers though; it'll be Peter Budaj starting the second game of a back-to-back. Budaj's numbers are better but still not stellar (.903 sv%, 2.73 GAA), and he can definitely be beaten. The way the Flyers have been playing, undefeated at home since early November, they should beat the Avs tomorrow night. But as the nation saw tonight on Versus, anything can happen, and Colorado will come to play on Tuesday night.
From there though, the schedule only looks tougher. On Thursday night the Flyers take to the road to face off against the Canadiens. Games in Montreal are never fun, and before the playoffs last year the Flyers seemed to never win there. The Habs have lost two straight, but they're also the team closest to Philly in the Eastern Conference standings, having played the same amount of games and earning just one less point. Montreal is always troublesome, and Thursday will be no different.
Saturday afternoon, another one of the Flyers 2008 playoff opponents visit the Wachovia Center. Alex Ovechkin leads his first place Capitals in, and of course he's having a good year... he's AO. Third in the league with 40 points, behind only Crosby and Malkin, the Flyers will have to shut him down very much like they did with Crosby on Saturday.
But if you shut down AO, you've got the other Alexander to worry about. Alex Semin has 30 points of his own to go along with the best plus/minus rating in the NHL. The Capitals, under the very likable coach Bruce Boudreau, are set to make a run at the Cup this season.
The Devils host our boys at the Prudential Center on Sunday afternoon, and despite lagging in the standings a bit, the Devils have beaten the Flyers in overtime during this stretch of good hockey they orange and black have put together, and they are not to be overlooked. In fact, they are four points back of Philadelphia with three games in hand, so if they take care of their business, they could be ahead of us before we know it. Regardless of how things pan out in the earlier part of the week, Sunday will be a big game for both teams.
This week is quite the test for the Flyers. With two home games and two road games against four quality opponents, it's a good chance for us to see how real this team is.