Leaving their 10-game losing streak behind, the Flyers go into their bye week in a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes for the final Wild Card spot.
You would never know from the way the Philadelphia Flyers have been playing that this was a team that had a 10-game losing streak in November and had all but been left for dead by their fans.
The Flyers go into their bye having won three straight, including a 4-1 rout of the hapless Buffalo Sabers on Sunday that improved their record to 19-15-8. They now have 46 points and are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
But most important, the Flyers are now playing like a team that wants to win.
After a scoreless first, Ryan O’Reilly gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead early in the second getting one past Michal Neuvirth, who was starting between the pipes for Brian “Iron Man” Elliott. But the lead didn’t last long as Shayne Gostisbehere tied things up in shorty thereafter off of a turnover.
Sean Couturier broke the tie with a power play one-timer in the middle of the second and that was all the Flyers needed. Add in a pair of empty netters from Couturier and Ivan Provorov in the final two minutes of the game and the Flyers never looked back.
The Flyers overcame a number of penalties, including two very early that resulted in them being outshot 12-5 in the first period. The penalties resulted in yet another slow start for the Orange and Black, which continues to be a real issue for this club. It is glaring issue that head coach Dave Hakstol needs to figure out how to fix and soon.
Neuvirth didn’t show any real signs of rust in his first start since Nov. 28. He stopped 30 of 31 shots, including an amazing glove save during the Sabers second power play that could have easily been a score.
Couturier leads the Flyers with 23 goals on the season and Jake Voracek had a pair of assists to increase his NHL-leading number to 43.
So the big question remains: can the Flyers use this momentum to make a serious playoff push or will they fold under the pressure? Because the one thing every Flyers fans knows about this team is that they are like the Jekyll and Hyde of the NHL.
The Flyers win a big game like they did against the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning only to get their asses handed to them two nights later by the Pittsburgh Penguins. They play incredible hockey against the big opponents only to play down to the inferior ones.
It seems like every time we think we have this team figured out, they do something to prove everyone wrong.
That will have to end if the Flyers are serious about wanting to make the postseason.
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Philly has a string of five huge games coming up after the bye, all against teams above them in the standings. It includes the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers and two against the hated New Jersey Devils.
Hopefully, the Flyers club that played so well and so aggressive the last few weeks will be the one who shows up.
The Flyers return to action on Jan. 13 when they face off against the Devils at the Prudential Center.