The Metropolitan Division.
The home of the Philadelphia Flyers and home to four of the five best teams in the NHL. At the moment, the Flyers sit at fifth in the Metro. From an outsider’s standpoint, that wouldn’t be anything impressive.
But with 48 points, the Flyers are currently the 12th-best team in the playoffs, sixth-best in the Eastern Conference, and hold the lead for the final wild card by just four points over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
So much for parity, right?
The Flyers recently had their longest winning streak since 1985 with 10-consecutive victories, fueled by 33 goals and some stellar goaltending. The problem – the rest of the Metro was following suit. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the NHL record for most consecutive victories with 17, had a seven-game streak that ended prior to Christmas and are currently on a five-game winning streak.
The Washington Capitals had a six-game streak that was snapped around the same time and now are currently in the midst of a six-game winning streak. The New York Rangers have had multiple winning streaks of three-plus games and have actually only loss consecutive games just twice this season.
The NHL’s best team, who happens to also be in the Metro, had a chance to tie the league’s longest winning streak in its history until a loss last week. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ 16-game streak skyrocketed them to the top of the league’s standings and in prime position to make the post season, not to mention a win over the Flyers on Sunday to avoid a three-game losing skid.
With all of this being said, are the Flyers in trouble because of how successful their division is at the moment?
Let’s look at it this way. As of December 14, the Flyers had a 78% chance of making the playoffs. December 14 was also the last win of the Flyers’ 10-game winning streak.
NHL power rankings, point projections and playoff chances pic.twitter.com/v8mKgAxClb
— dom 🤔 (@omgitsdomi) December 14, 2016
Then they went 1-5-2 in their last eight games, prior to their 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon. At that point, the team’s chances of making the playoffs had dipped below 50%.
Playoff chances over the last 10 days pic.twitter.com/m50P61ZNSI
— dom 🤔 (@omgitsdomi) January 6, 2017
At the halfway point of the season, the Flyers would be amongst the top teams in every division in the NHL other than the Metro. It could make a huge impact on their chances of making the postseason, despite having a little under half the season left to play (which includes 22 games left against teams in the Metro).
Parity has limited winning streaks. Sure you’ll have teams that’ll become anomalies for these streaks, but in reality, it’s been pretty even-keel throughout the league.
Sure, the Flyers could pull off another streak like the one we’ve seen in December, but they have only won consecutive games just once this season – a three-game winning streak from Oct. 30-Nov 3. In fact, the current over-under for longest winning streak in the NHL is at 14.5 according to My Top Sportsbooks, thanks to how dominant and streaky the Metro teams have been.
So, if the Flyers are going to want to make the playoffs, they’re going to need to capitalize on games against teams in their division. Because if not, they’ll be fighting for a wild card spot and may be left out of the playoffs because of a strong Metropolitan Division.
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Sons of Penn Radio (January 11th)
On this week of SOP Radio, we ring in the New Year with Wayne Simmonds the All-Star, dissect the problems of a struggling Flyers team, praise the play of the organization’s prospects, and look at the road ahead.