Flyers fans have quite a treat coming up in the form of six home games at the Wells Fargo Center against some excellent teams and some of the NHL’s most storied franchises. Four of the Original Six teams will be in Philadelphia, starting with Montreal on Tuesday. The Bruins come to town twice, while the Rangers and Maple Leafs are in during the third week of January. Next weekend, the Flyers face the New York Islanders in a crucial Metropolitan Division matchup.
In fact, that Islanders game will be the first of a ton of crucial games for the Flyers over the final half of the season. As the New Year begins, the Flyers are part of a pack of 12 teams that are all within 10 points of each other in the standings. The Flyers will have some work to do to get back into the race for one of the three Metropolitan Division spots, as they currently sit nine points out of that race. But they are entirely capable of challenging for one of the two wild card positions – they sit seven points back of the current holders, New Jersey and Boston, with two games in hand on Boston.
Four of those 18 divisional games see the Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins – two in Philadelphia and two in Pittsburgh. The first meeting comes in western PA on January 21, but then the teams play three times in the final three weeks of the season – March 19 in Philly, April 3 in Pittsburgh and April 9 in Philadelphia in what is the last day of the season and could be a playoff make-or-break for both teams. Pittsburgh is trying to regroup after a tough start to the season that involved a coaching change. The Penguins have points in five of their last six games as they look to settle in under new bench boss Mike Sullivan.
On February 29, the Flyers will induct Jimmy Watson into their Hall of Fame during pregame ceremonies before their matchup with the Calgary Flames. Watson played his entire 10-year NHL career for the Flyers, appearing in 613 games – many of them with his brother Joe, who he now joins in the Flyers Hall of Fame.
Later in 2016, a trio of former Flyers could find themselves hearing from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto – Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi and Jeremy Roenick are among those receiving consideration for the honor.
All but 11 of the Flyers’ remaining 45 games are against Eastern Conference opponents, and 18 of the remaining games are against Metropolitan Division opponents, meaning they’ll likely be the so-called four-point games. Seven of those 18 games will come over the final six weeks of the season in March and April. The bottom line – every point available to the Flyers is critical the rest of the way.