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The first test has been passed.
In all honesty, the Flyers were moving on to the second, much more difficult test in Boston tonight regardless of what happened with the first test in Toronto, but the fact is they aced it.
And they aced it because they got really good goaltending once again – this time by Brian Elliott – they limited their own mistakes against a highly skilled team, which is important, they won the special teams battle, and they got two of the most diverse-looking shootout goals from a couple of team leaders to defeat the Maple Leafs 3-2.
That makes the Flyers 4-0-1 in their last five games and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Those consecutive disastrous losses to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins seem like a distant memory at this point.
That’s because the Flyers are 9-5-2 with 20 points through 16 games and currently sit in the top Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, with three quarters of the season to go, a lot can happen. But, let’s look at where the Flyers were since the last time they had 20 points 16 games into the season:
|Season||Record||Points||Eastern Conference Standing
And while it’s easy to say, yeah, they were in the same standings position two years ago, so what’s the big deal, the difference is this team is better both talent-wise and coaching-wise. This team still has a game or two in hand on most of the conference because they started the season in Europe. This team is rolling, which it wasn’t doing two years ago. And, with an upset win over the Bruins tonight, they would leapfrog all the way to 4th place in the conference, which would be a first this late in the season since the last time they won a playoff series.
Yes, this is a big deal.
Don’t get me wrong. It can easily go sideways as the Flyers are playing arguably the two best teams in the NHL in their next two games, because after playing in Boston tonight they come home to host the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, but the fact that the Flyers have themselves in this position, is not something fans have grown accustomed to in recent years.
And they’ve gotten there because of the growth and continued growth of some of their young players.
Let’s dive in….