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MELTZER: Monopoly on the Metro

Flyers contributor looks at the Flyers dominance in the Division

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

With 17 games remaining in the 2019-20 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers have
38 wins and 83 points. They've already surpassed last season's 37 wins and 82 points for the entire campaign.. A big part of the reason for the turnaround -- and why the second-place Flyers are currently working to muster a push for first place in the Metropolitan Division -- stems from the team's record in games within the Metro Division. 

Last season, the Flyers went a dismal 10-16-2 within the Metro Division. So far this season, the team has gone 14-4-4 against divisional opponents. Listed by opponents' order in the standings, here's a look at how the Flyers have fared head-to-head against their Metro Rivals:

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: 2-0-1 (0-4-0 in 2018-19)

On Wednesday of this week, the Flyers will attempt to move within a single point of the Metro Division lead as they wrap up their season series with the Capitals with a game at Capital One Arena. After failing to gain a single point from their four games against Washington last season, the Flyers have earned five of six possible points to date in the 2019-20 season series.

Nov. 13 (H): 1-2 Shootout loss
A 35-save performance by Carter Hart and a third-period power play goal by Claude Giroux enabled the Flyers to earn a point from this game. After being outshot 16-5 in the first period, the Flyers outshot the Capitals 26-20 over the rest of the game. The Caps, who entered the game with a 13-2-4 record and a 12-game point streak (10-0-2), had not been held to fewer than three regulation goals since the third game of the season.

Jan. 8 (H): 3-2 Win
Tied 2-2 at the first intermission, a shorthanded goal by Kevin Hayes with 2:01 remaining in the second period proved to be the difference maker in this hard-fought game. Hart made 26 saves to earn the win, including 20 stops over the final two periods. This win, coming right on the heels of a dismal 1-4-1 road trip after Christmas, was the jump-off point for the Flyers' surge of the last seven weeks.

Feb. 8 (A): 7-2 Win
All eyes were on Alex Ovechkin at the start of the night, as he was red-hot offensively and needed two goals to reach 700 in his storied career. Instead, Claude Giroux stole the show with a goal and two assists to reach the 800-point mark in his NHL career. The game was tied 1-1 at the first intermission before the Flyers exploded for three goals in the second period and three more in the final frame.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: 1-1-1 (3-1-0 in 2018-19)

Highlighted by the Stadium Series comeback win in the rain at Lincoln Financial Field last season, the Penguins were one of the few Metro Teams the Flyers had some success against in 2018-19. This year's season series got off to a rough start but the Flyers earned three of four possible points against the Penguins in a home-and-home set played on either side of the NHL All-Star break and the teams' respective bye weeks. The 2019-20 season series will conclude at the Wells Fargo Center on the afternoon of March 29.

Oct. 29 (A): 1-7 Loss
With the possible exception of poor western road trips both before and after the holiday break, the Flyers back-to-back road losses to the Islanders and Penguins late in October may have been the team's roughest patch of the current season. Nothing went right in this game, which saw the Penguins build a 4-0 lead at Elliott's expense in the first 14:02 of the first period.

Jan. 21 (H): 3-0 W
Elliott posted a 19-save shutout but had only a couple of truly difficult saves to make in a dominant 60-minute performance. Second period goals by Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk broke a scoreless deadlock. In shutting down the game in the third period, Philly held Pittsburgh to a mere three shots on goal while generating eight of their own.

Jan. 31 (A): 3-4 Overtime Loss
The Flyers came out of the gates with a strong first period, taking a 1-0 lead to intermission while limiting the Penguins to three shots on goal. Pittsburgh broke loose in the second period, scoring three straight goals in which Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby or both figured in the tally. Philly controlled the third period and Scott Laughton tied the game at 3-3 early in the frame. Unfortunately, a bad line change attempt led to Crosby dancing around tired Flyers players and beating Elliott in overtime.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: 0-2-1 (2-2-0 in 2018-19)

The Islanders are the lone Metro opponent against whom the Flyers have been unable to earn a win this season. It's been a frustrating season series thus far. Philly will get one more crack at the Isles on March 24 at home.

Oct. 27 (A): 3-5 Loss
Along with the blowout loss in Pittsburgh two nights later, this early season defeat represented adversity that the Flyers worked to successfully overcome as they went on to post the NHL's best record in November. Things started off well enough with a Voracek goal just 67 seconds after the opening faceoff but went rapidly downhill. Hart was pulled after stopping just 9 of 14 shots.

Nov. 16 (H): 3-4 Shootout Loss
In one of the galling losses of the season. the Flyers held a 3-0 lead with 13 minutes left in the game, only to see the Islanders score three times -- including a pair by Anthony Beauvillier -- to send the game to overtime. In fairness, the Flyers ran out of gas playing for the third time in four nights while the Islanders were in a light phase of their schedule (playing just twice between Nov. 10 to 18) and were on a 13-game point streak at the time.

Feb. 11 (A): 3-5 Loss
Another frustrating outcome for the Flyers: Philadelphia outshot New York in all three periods (10-9, 14-9, 14-7) and the Flyers battled all the way back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game on a Sean Couturier goal with 1:32 left. Unfortunately, a Ryan Pulock blast through an accidental high screen by van Riemsdyk rocketed over Elliott with 41 seconds left in regulation.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: 4-0-0 (0-2-2 in 2018-19)

The Blue Jackets had been a thorn in the Flyers side, pretty much continuously, ever since the team switched conferences and moved into the Metro Division when the NHL realigned the divisions in 2013. This year, Philadelphia turned the tide and swept the season series. 

Oct. 26 (H): 7-4 Win
Despite largely outplaying John Tortorella's team, the Flyers trailed 4-2 midway through the third period before they put on a five-goal blitz, highlighted by a Hayes shorthanded goal against Joonas Korpisalo that put the Flyers ahead to stay. Voracek (1g, 2a), Hayes (1g, 2a) and van Riemsdyk (2g, 1a) all had three-point games for Philadelphia.

Nov. 27 (A): 3-2 Win
The Flyers trailed in the first period by scores of 1-0 and 2-1. Goals by Tyler Pitlick in the opening stanza and by Laughton and Giroux in the second put the Flyers ahead, 3-2. Elliott made 15 saves in the third period to nail down the win.

Feb. 18 (H): 5-1 Win
A statement win at the Wells Fargo Center on the front end of a home-and-home set. The injury-riddled Blue Jackets found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole on self-made puck luck goals by Hayes and Couturier. Philly never looked back.

Feb. 20 (A): 4-3 Overtime Win
The return match of the home-and-home set was a much tougher win for the Flyers. The visitors trailed 1-0 in the opening minute of the game and 2-0 before the period was halfway through. As the second period developed, the Flyers began to take over the game and goals by Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Giroux pulled the Flyers even at 3-3. Kevin Hayes finally wired a shot past Elvis Merzlikins with 1:09 left on the OT clock.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: 2-0-1 (0-4-0 in 2018-19)

Very little went right for the Flyers last season against the Hurricanes, with three of the four regulation losses coming by final margins of two or more goals. This season, Philly downed Carolina twice in November and rallied back for a road point in early January. The season series concludes at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday of this week.

Nov. 5 (H): 4-1 Win
The somewhat lopsided final score was deceptive, as this was an uncommon game this season where the Flyers found themselves doing more defending than attacking for the majority of the night. Hart turned in an outstanding performance in net, stopping 33 of 34 shots, and the offense was opportunistic against ex-Flyer netminder Petr Mrazek.

Nov. 21 (A): 5-3 Win
The Flyers trailed 2-0 early in this game but Giroux and Provorov answered right back to send the game to intermission tied. A Morgan Frost shorthanded goal right off a clean faceoff win by Giroux put Philly ahead in the second period. Wallmark tied the game at 3:24 of the third period but another goal by Giroux sealed the win.

Jan. 7 (A): 4-5 Overtime Loss
How can an overtime loss to a divisional opponent feel virtually like a win? It can when it comes at the end of a six-game road trip that had gone horribly wrong (1-4-0 up to that point with several ugly losses in the mix) and it marks the start of the team's most sustained success of the season. The Flyers saw an early 2-0 lead (goals by Konecny and Michael Raffl) slip away in the first period, and then Philly fell behind, 4-2, in the middle frame. Aube-Kubel started a comeback bid against a shaky-looking James Reimer in the latter stages of the second period, and Travis Sanheim forged a 4-4 tie with 4:11 left in the third period to rescue a point. Dougie Hamilton scored the winner for Carolina in OT. Elliott stopped 28 of 33 shots.

NEW YORK RANGERS: 3-0-0 (3-1-0 in 2018-19)

It doesn't seem all that long ago that Rangers teams had Philly's number in the years following the Flyers run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. That was then, and this is now. The Flyers handled the Blueshirts even last season, and have collected three regulation wins over the Rangers this season including a home-and-home sweep over the last two games Philly has played. The season series concludes at the Wells Fargo Center on April 1.

Dec. 23 (H): 5-1 Win
A Jesper Fast shorthanded goal broke a scoreless deadlock in the second period but the Flyers bounced back to take over the game and win in convincing fashion to go into the winter holiday break on a good note. Sanheim and Hayes both scored two goals in this tilt, and Aube-Kubel's first NHL goal rounded it out. Hart cranked out a 34-save victory over Henrik Lundqvist.

Feb. 28 (H): 5-2 Win
The Flyers imposed their will on New York on the Philadelphia end of the home-and-home. Voracek racked up four assists, Giroux bagged a pair of goals (even strength and power play), and Sean Couturier had a goal and an assist. After allowing an early rebound goal to Fast, Hart settled in and earned a 26-save win.

Mar. 1 (A): 5-3 Win
Special teams was the order of the day, as the Flyers scored three power play goals and a shorthander while the Rangers struck for three power play goals (two in the third period after the Flyers had built a 5-1 lead). Markers by Matt Niskanen (power play), Couturier (power play) and Raffl (shorthanded) built a 3-0 lead for the Flyers in the first period. Hart was quietly outstanding in making 23 saves on 26 shots. Lundqvist took the loss, stopping 21 of 26 shots.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: 2-1-0 (2-2-0 in 2018-19)

The Flyers cruised to an easy win over the Devils in the Wells Fargo Center season opener and than opened their NHL-best November performance with a hard-fought shootout win. Philly had a letdown game at home the most recent time they played the Devils. The season series concludes at the Prudential Center in Newark on March 28.

Oct. 9 (H): 4-0 Win
Carter Hart's first career NHL shutout was punctuated by a spectacular glove save on now-former Devils forward Taylor Hall during a 5-on-3 power play for New Jersey. A Provorov power play goal opened the scoring in the second period. The Hart highlight reel save came with the game tied at 1-1 late in the middle stanza, with both Couturier and Hayes in the penalty box. In the third period, the Flyers pulled away with opening minute goals by Hayes (first as a Flyer) and Couturier.

Nov. 1 (A): 4-3 Shootout win
The Flyers needed something positive on the heels of ugly road losses to the Islanders and Penguins and got it with a skills competition victory following 65-minutes of seesaw hockey. The teams traded off one goal apiece in each of the first, second, and third periods. In the shootout, Couturier pulled off the "Forsberg move" on Mackenzie Blackwood for the only chance either side converted. 

Feb. 6 (H): 5-0 Loss
February was the Flyers' second 10-win month this season, but this ugly home loss to the Devils was a reminder that any team in the NHL can defeat anyone else on a given night. Now-former Devil Blake Coleman scored just 13 seconds after the opening faceoff, and things went downhill from there for the Flyers. Philly gave up three even-strength goals, one power play goal and a shorthander.

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