Division wins are key for the Flyers moving forward
It’s not a mind-blowing concept.
Coming into Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers needed to win the game.
The reasons are endless really: because it’s their hated rivals from Pittsburgh, because the Flyers are only two points ahead of them in the standings, because it’s a day game, because they’ve only won three of their last ten, because the Flyers play poorly at home, etc.
The list goes on and on.
However, the most basic reason the Flyers needed to win on Saturday is far simpler than all the other seemingly logical conclusions.
The team needed to win the game because it was against a division opponent.
The Atlantic Division is arguably the most competitive division in hockey at this point in time. With the Flyers, Penguins and New Jersey Devils all separated by only a single point, it’s any body’s guess as to how the final seeding will play out.
With the New York Rangers comfortably sitting at the head of the table with an eight point lead and at least one game in hand on all three (two games on the Flyers and Penguins), it appears as though it’s up to the three previously mentioned to battle it out for positioning in anticipation of the playoffs.
This means that points within the division could go a long way when the final day of the season comes around.
For the time being, the Flyers appear to be taking that for granted.
Since returning from the All-Star break, the team has gone 3-5-2 in their last ten games. Half of those losses have come at the hands of division opponents (0-4-1), losing a game to all four of the other members of the Atlantic Division in that span (two against the Rangers).
Including the team’s embarrassing showing in their 6-4 loss to the Penguins on Saturday, the Flyers are now a collective 6-8-2 against their division rivals this season.
For an expected playoff team, that kind of showing isn’t going to cut it.
Of course, it must be noted that five of the eight losses have come at the hands of the Rangers. If one was to exclude those games, the team does have a fairly decent standing against their rivals.
Unfortunately though, the team can’t exclude those games and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to excuse them as well.
When looking at the Rangers eight point lead, it’s blatantly obvious that they have control of the division solely because of their dominance over the Flyers this season.
If the Flyers managed to take away just a few points from those games, the race in the Atlantic is completely different. Instead, the Rangers hold a commanding lead with a tiebreaker on top of it.
With eight games left against members of the Atlantic Division, the Flyers are going to have to make it a priority to take away as many points from those opponents as they possibly can.
While the team obviously needs to start collecting any kind of points, the one’s from their rivals could prove to be most important moving forward.
Considering the noticable difference the losses against the Rangers has made, division points clearly have the potential to be a huge factor.
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