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Bailey: Flyers’ Real 2023-24 Season Starts Now

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(Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers are in the middle of an impressive and surprising playoff push, and now the real test starts. Do they have the mettle to survive the upcoming gauntlet the NHL has scheduled for them, or are these Flyers still learning what it takes to get over the hump?

Those questions will be answered in the coming days, starting with Thursday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Indeed, the Flyers have proven capable of knocking off some of the NHL’s titans time and time again. How about last week’s 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Sunrise?

The caveat is that they followed that up with a 7-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning two days later – one that saw Flyers head coach John Tortorella ejected, suspended, and fined for trying to stand up for his players.

On deck next for the Flyers? Two games against the Boston Bruins, two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a rematch with the Panthers, and Metropolitan Division showdowns with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers.

Again, large tasks, and ones the Flyers have proven capable of handling multiple times. The difference now is that the Flyers will have to do it multiple times in a row, with one day of rest between games. This is playoff-style hockey – playing a strong opponent multiple times in a row with little rest.

The Flyers have the seventh-hardest remaining schedule remaining, per Tankathon, while the New York Islanders, who are four points back of the Flyers with two games in hand, have the 16th-hardest. The Islanders recently overtook the Detroit Red Wings for the last wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, with the Red Wings losing six straight after winning four straight before that.

The Red Wings have the 19th-hardest remaining schedule, so the door is certainly open for them to right the ship and catch the Flyers as well.

In short, the Flyers‘ competition for a playoff spot has been overlooked, and now there’s quietly a possibility the Flyers could relinquish their position in the Metropolitan Division as well as a wildcard spot.

How can the Orange and Black avoid such a fate? They need to take care of business and win some of these big games; that’s the bottom line.

Tortorella has often preached the importance of this young group playing in meaningful games, and some of these players have never played in more meaningful games in their lives. Veterans like Sean Couturier and Marc Staal will be there to lead the way, but you can’t hide in the NHL. It will need to be a complete effort from all of the players.

Tortorella will have to sit out one more game to complete his suspension, and then it’s back to business as usual for the Flyers – business they need to handle with maximum focus and determination.

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