The Philadelphia Flyers begin their 56-game pilgrimage toward the playoffs and Lord Stanley’s Cup in just a week. On Wednesday the 13th, the Flyers will open the NHL season with a meeting against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But what about after that?
We know that the Flyers are playing their seven divisional opponents eight times each, but we haven’t really dug into the whole schedule. There are bound to be some easier stretches and tougher stretches throughout the season, with an emphasis on the tougher stretches given the division.
The East Division features four playoff teams (Bruins, Islanders, Flyers, Capitals) and the Pittsburgh Penguins to make up five pretty good teams in an eight-team division. Luckily, the other three teams (Sabres, Devils, Rangers) are expected to be toward the bottom of the league this year. The Flyers are going to need to take care of business against the lesser teams and pull out clutch wins against the top teams if they want to make the playoffs for the second straight year.
Let’s take a month-by-month look at the Flyers’ schedule for this season. We’ll include the number of total games in the month, the number of games against the bottom three teams (BUF, NJD, NYR; listed as “vs. B3”), the opponent’s average point percentage from last season, and the number of back-to-back sets in the month.
vs. B3: 4
Opp P%: 58.22%
Back to backs: 2
The Flyers kick things off with 10 games in 19 days to start the season. They have two back-to-back sets within those 10 games, with two-game sets against the Sabres and Islanders.
We all know the Flyers’ first opponent will be the Penguins, who they will play two games against to start the year. They will then have their back-to-back set against Buffalo, both at home, before embarking on their first road trip of the season.
The Flyers will ship up to Boston for two games, then down to Newark for two against the Devils as well. They’ll finish off the month with that back-to-back set against the Islanders, both at home.
The two-game set in Boston will conclude a stretch of six games in 11 days to start the season.
We’ll see five of the Flyers’ seven opponents in January, which will give us a chance to see how the Orange and Black measure up in the division. The biggest litmus test will be in Boston on the 21st and 23rd against the East-division favorites. However, the Bruins are sandwiched between the Sabres and Devils, the two worst teams in the division.
I’d expect about six or seven wins out of these first 10 games to start the season, with less than five being a disappointment.
vs. B3: 7
Opp P%: 59.25%
Back to backs: 0
The Flyers will get a bit of a break in February with just 12 games in the month. That includes one game (reported to be at Lake Tahoe on February 21st) in five days from the 19th to the 23rd.
Early February will also give us another taste of Flyers hockey on every other night with six games in 11 days from the 3rd to the 13th.
One of the Flyers’ toughest stretches early on will come in late January to early February. January closes with two games against the Islanders, who ousted the Flyers in the playoffs. February then opens with two more against Boston at home and the first trip down to D.C. this season. Those are going to be six important games to see where the Flyers are at nearly a quarter of the way into the schedule.
After that, things should get a bit easier with two home games against the Devils and a home-and-home with the Rangers prior to the game at Lake Tahoe against the Bruins.
The Lake Tahoe game is a one-off in what should be an easy stretch of games, actually. They’ll play the Rangers again after the outdoor game before closing February with a trip up to Buffalo.
From the 11th to the end of the month, the Flyers play seven of their eight games against the three bottom teams in the division with two against the Devils, three against the Rangers, and two against the Sabres.
Who knows what’s actually going to be going on at this point in the season, but out of these 12 games, I project around seven or eight wins.
vs. B3: 8
Opp P%: 57.79%
Back to backs: 2
The Flyers won’t have an easy March with six of their first seven games – in 12 days – against the other top three teams in the division. However, they have a bit of an easier draw in the second half of the month. In like a lion, out like a lamb.
March begins with a trip to Pittsburgh for two games on the 2nd and 4th before heading up to Boston on the 7th. After a relatively easy end to February, these are going to be big games. From the 7th to the 20th, the Flyers will play eight games in 14 days and follow that up with five games in eight days to close out the month
After that, the Flyers host the Sabres in what will likely be a must-win game against a poor team after three intense games, but who knows! The Capitals will then come to Philadelphia for the first time this season with a two-game set on the 11th and 13th.
We’ll have New York on our minds with two two-game sets against the Rangers and Islanders, including the first back-to-back of the month on the 17th (@ NYR) and 18th (@ NYI). The Flyers will then come home for three games, one against the Devils and two against the Rangers. They’ll head up to Buffalo for a back-to-back set on the 29th and 30th to finish March.
The Flyers should be able to win eight or nine games in March given their schedule, with double-digit wins a possibility.
vs. B3: 4
Opp P%: 59.81%
Back to backs: 2
April is arguably the Flyers’ most difficult month with 10 of their 14 games against playoff-contending teams. They will play the Sabres just once, Devils twice, and Rangers once.
The Flyers start April with a game on Long Island, a back-to-back set at home against Boston, and another away game against the Islanders. They’ll then get a bit of a breather with a home game against the Sabres. That games against Buffalo is a 2:00 p.m. start on the 11th, less than 24 hours before the trade deadline on the 12th. It’ll be the last chance for the Flyers brass to figure out what (if any) moves might need to be made on deadline day.
The Flyers will start the post-deadline race to the finish with a trip to Pittsburgh for two mid-week games against the Penguins. The Orange and Black then return to Philadelphia for a back-to-back weekend set with an afternoon game against the Capitals and 6:30 p.m. start against the Islanders.
This is going to be an important stretch of games for the Flyers. They’re going to need to win the games they should win against non-playoff teams while also picking up points against teams near them in the standings. It will also be nine games in 16 days to start the month for the Flyers.
After that, they’ll have a game in Newark before two days off and a Friday night game at Madison Square Garden. These will likely be two more must-win games against non-playoff teams before heading into the final stretch of the season.
April ends with two more home games, one against the Islanders and one against the Capitals, before a trip to Newark on the 29th.
Hopefully, it won’t be April Fools for the Flyers in crunch time. They’ll have 10 games against what should be playoff-contending teams. And it doesn’t get any easier in their few May games.
To keep up with the predictions, let’s go with around seven wins this month. Two or three against the bottom-three teams, and hopefully at least a .500 record (or point percentage) in their other 10 games.
vs. B3: 1
Opp P%: 60.86%%
Back to backs: 2
Yeah, that’s right, the NHL managed to fit two back-to-back sets into the Flyers’ five-game slate in May to end the season.
The Flyers will begin May with their final home stand of the season. It starts with a Saturday night game against the Devils – a must-win game – before a back-to-back set against the Penguins on Monday and Tuesday.
They’ll conclude their regular-season schedule with a back to back in D.C. on Friday and Saturday night.
Ideally, those five games won’t matter too much if the Flyers lock up a playoff spot in April, but they could matter for seeding. It could also come down to the wire in a division with five pretty good teams (Bruins, Capitals, Flyers, Islanders, Penguins) fighting for four playoff spots.
Let’s go with a four-win prediction for May. Why not, right? That totals up to a prediction of 32 to 35 wins for the Flyers this season, give or take. In a 56-game schedule, I’ll take it.
There you have it; a month-by-month breakdown of the Flyers’ 56 games this season. It’s going to be a whirlwind of a season with the unique aspect of playing only seven opponents.