The Philadelphia Flyers are down and just about out. They’re not quite out yet, though, but the team has a steep uphill battle to get back into the playoff picture.
This week might be the Flyers’ last realistic chance to get back into the playoff picture.
“These are all critical games,” Chuck Fletcher said on Saturday afternoon. “We put ourselves in a position where we’re chasing to get back into the playoffs. We have time to get back in, but at risk of understatement, this week is a massive week for us, in particular the next four days.”
This is, in fact, a massive week for the Flyers. They’ve already dropped one point to the Islanders in one of those critical games, but the two most important games are coming in these next two nights.
The Flyers’ last hope?
After losing to the Islanders in a shootout on Saturday, the Flyers have a home-and-home set with Boston. The Flyers are just four points behind the Bruins, but Boston has two games in hand.
The Flyers have yet to beat the Bruins in five games this season. Three of the losses were heartbreaking one-goal defeats, including two in overtime, with the other two losses being blowouts. However, the Bruins have been up and down recently and the Flyers could come out hot after two days off last week.
If the Flyers sweep the Bruins, they’ll be tied with 43 points each. If the Bruins sweep the Flyers in regulation, the Flyers will be eight points out of a playoff spot with a minuscule chance to make the postseason. In all likelihood, however, the Flyers will get a point or two out of the two-game set, which would keep them on the outside looking in.
The Bruins falling out of the fourth spot in the East is really the only hope the Flyers have. The top three teams in the division have 54, 52, and 50 points with the Flyers sitting at 39. Making up 11 points in 20 games, even with two games in hand, is a difficult task.
Flyers deadline plans determined this week
Not only will the next few days determine the Flyers’ playoff fate, it will determine what Fletcher does at the trade deadline as well.
“The trade market is still fairly undefined at this point,” Fletcher said on Saturday. “There are a lot of teams that are either just in or just out and are waiting to see how the next few games go before they settle on a path for the next week.”
You can’t help but think that Fletcher’s comments line up pretty well with his mindset as well. The Flyers are somehow still just out of the playoff race and the next few games will decide their path.
After the home-and-home with Boston, the Flyers play the Islanders on Thursday and the Bruins again on Saturday. A game against the Sabres on Sunday will be their final contest before next Monday’s trade deadline.
“We’re still looking to improve our team if we can, and we’re having conversations every day,” Fletcher said. “We’ll see not only how the market shapes but how we play.”
Fletcher hasn’t been shy about working the phones.
He said during his midseason press conference that he’s been making as many calls as anyone. On top of that, the Flyers have been in the rumor mill for over a month. Whether it be Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Alex Goligoski, John Klingberg, or some other player, Fletcher knows he needs to improve the team.
The Flyers could be buyers, sellers, or in between at the trade deadline. They have a few names that they could move if they’re sellers. It would also be beneficial if Fletcher trades for a top-four defenseman, even if the Flyers aren’t in the playoff picture. A top-four addition would help stabilize the defense and take some pressure off of Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers. Those two youngsters have struggled mightily this season and a bonafide top-pair defenseman would do wonders for this defense.
We’re only one week away from the trade deadline now and it’s a massive one for the Flyers. This is the team’s last chance to push towards the playoffs, and also push Fletcher towards buying rather than selling.