Philadelphia Flyers: Sights set on Metro Division title?

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Thanks to recent developments, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves just three points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division.

For all of the concern that’s been exhibited this year about the Philadelphia Flyers‘ playoff chances, it’s now fair to take things in the other direction.

Does this team have it in them to actually capture a division title?

It sounded like a pipe dream not too long ago, and even the most ardent Flyers’ supporter would caution against such lofty expectations. But it’s now a legitimate question, as the Flyers wake up Sunday morning with 77 points, trailing division co-leaders Pittsburgh and Washington by just three points.

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Games in hand are an issue, as the Capitals have played one fewer game than the Flyers and the Penguins have played two. But it’s now tight enough that the Orange and Black cannot be entirely discounted for any and all possibilities.

The postseason itself is by no means clinched either, of course, as the Flyers are just three points clear of the playoff break line despite all of their recent gains. But they are certainly in good shape as they enter the final quarter of their regular season schedule.

It’s become abundantly clear that, while the Metro is littered with good teams, nobody is truly dominant. In this era of NHL parity where races are tighter than ever and their is a razor-thin margin between successful teams and so-so ones, this year’s version of the Metropolitan Division is a shining example.

It also seems entirely likely the the Metro will produce five of the Eastern Conference’s eight playoff teams. And at this moment, 80 points leads the division, while Columbus‘ 74 has them out of the playoffs because the Islanders and Carolina (both also at 74 points) have played fewer games than them.

Now, imagine if the Flyers had dropped their two games with the Blue Jackets earlier this week instead of winning them. In that case, the Flyers would find themselves on the outside looking in, while Columbus would be the team sitting in a good spot in third place, sandwiched between the top two clubs and the logjam below.

There’s always a possibility that the Flyers go cold, luck deserts them, injuries derail the last part of their schedule, or any number of other factors contribute to a disappointing finish that lands them out of the playoffs.

But, as the Flyers have shown time and time again, it’s far more likely that this close-knit group continues to play this same brand of hockey and makes a surge that puts them right at the top of the standings with two very good but still flawed teams in Washington and Pittsburgh.

The Caps have dropped four games in a row, as they’ve seemed more preoccupied with Alex Ovechkin scoring his 700th career goal than actually banking standings points of late. But now that he’s got it, their focus may return. The Pens have been better, but they’ve lost their last two, including an embarrassing home loss to to the moribund Sabres on Saturday.

The Flyers have had a few clunkers of their own, but the fact remains that they can just as easily beat anyone in their division. And if they can manage to finish in the top spot, they’d assure themselves of home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. Given the Flyers’ excellent record at the Wells Fargo Center this season, it’s enough to get you salivating at the possibilities.

dark. Next. The Flyers finally deserve your attention

Since the Capitals and Penguins face each other on Sunday, the Flyers will find themselves with more ground to make up by the time they play their next game on Tuesday. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve deservedly worked their way into the conversation. It’s a natural byproduct of their success this season.