Over the past two to three weeks, it has become apparent that the Philadelphia Flyers are the top team in the city. After it looked like it could be another tough year in arguably the league’s toughest division, the Flyers have surged in the standings.
This seven-game winning streak is not a flash in the pan, as the Flyers have been one of the top teams in the entire league since November. That equals sustained success, and the men in orange and black are looking to continue that success tonight.
The Flyers do not have any time to rest on their laurels, as they have the second of a back-to-back tonight against a desperate Carolina team. This will mark the sixth divisional opponent in their last eight games, and Carolina may very well be standing right in front of a steamroller.
The Flyers have the best record in the league against the Metro and have recently dismantled rivals such as the New York Rangers in a home and home series, and the Capitals in D.C. last night. Every Flyers line has appeared to come in wave after wave, generating quality scoring chances and capitalizing on them as well.
However, the fact remains that Carolina is desperate, and they have the skill to make it a game. The Hurricanes are currently three points out of a wild card spot and happen to have one of the best young snipers in the league, Sebastian Aho. Aho put himself on the map with a great rookie season back in 2016 and has only improved each year, now finding himself at an impressive 36 goals, six more than his career-high from the year before. With solid pieces such as Jordan Staal patrolling the penalty kill and other young talent such as Andrei Svechnikov, the Flyers need to come out early and assert their dominance.
The Flyers will enter tonight without one of their more dangerous players in James van Riemsdyk, after JVR had a shot hit his hand in the nation’s capital last night. The Flyers promptly called up Joel Farabee once again, who has been a solid player most of the season when in the lineup.
The depth of the team is definitely a huge advantage going into April, especially when there is no timetable for a player like JVR at the moment. The team seems to be up to the brim in bottom six talent, and in the postseason, you need unsung heroes from the bottom line contributing.
A recent acquisition who may end up the most underrated trade deadline pickup is Derek Grant, who brought over 14 goals from Anaheim. He has seamlessly slid right into the third line center spot and is playing great hockey. He has two multi-point games in his last two contests, scoring a goal and tallying an assist against the Rangers and notching two assists against the Capitals.
Even Nate Thompson made his presence felt in the game last night, as he and Tom Wilson had a spirited fight after a collision on the boards.
The Flyers have a great chance to take first place in the Metro tonight. The Capitals also play, but arguably have a tougher task traveling to Madison Square Garden to face a desperate team in the Rangers. All the Flyers need to worry about is taking care of business, and they have been pretty darn good at that lately.