With their home-stand coming to an end, the Philadelphia Flyers will face their next daunting test of the early season as the Florida Panthers come into town hot, riding a 4-game winning streak. The Flyers have fared well so far, facing tougher opponents by the game, but the Panthers will surely be their toughest one yet.
After their late comeback to earn a point against the Vancouver Canucks, they have bounced back rather nicely, dispatching the Seattle Kraken and Boston Bruins rather comprehensively. After a rough start to the game against the Kraken and some big saves by Carter Hart, the Flyers never relented for a second and bounced their opponent 6-1. The Bruins game went a little differently but after Jones stood on his head for the first 40 minutes, the Flyers took the game away in the third and took down a nightmarish opponent.
With the Panthers coming into town sporting a 4-0-0 record, and Sergei Bobrovsky looking like the Vezina Trophy winner he once was so many years ago; it’s truly going to be a measuring stick game for this newly identified, formed, and culturally changed Flyers squad.
The Panthers made some big moves in the off-season, none bigger than adding Sam Reinhart to the fold that already included Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. They are one of the top teams in the NHL and one of the few with actual Stanley Cup aspirations.
The Flyers can’t start off slowly again like they had with the Kraken and the Bruins, and they definitely can’t find themselves chasing or being behind in the game either. Not against this Florida Panthers squad.
Looking ahead in the schedule, after playing the Florida Panthers, they head out west on the dreaded Western Canadian road trip, where they haven’t fared too well in recent years. They did sweep the road trip back in 2017 but every other year has been rough.
The last time they made the trip was back in 2019-20, for the third, fourth, and fifth games of that season. They lost 3-2 to the Canucks in the shootout, 3-1 to the Calgary Flames, and on the back end of a back-to-back they got smoked by the Edmonton Oilers 6-3.
First up are the Edmonton Oilers, who possess two of the best players in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They have always been a handful for the Flyers and nothing would suggest otherwise for their matchup on the 27th of October.
Brock Boeser has returned for the Canucks, which should give them some added punch when the Flyers finish off their season series in the second leg of a back-to-back. Finally the Flyers end their trip in Calgary, where they will face off against a potentially dangerous yet very unpredictable Flames team backstopped by Jacob Markstrom. None of these games are going to be easy and both goalies are going to be utilized at some point.
The way the Flyers have played recently should give rise to optimism and expectations. They’ve been clicking offensively and the newly acquired players have really meshed well with the “old”, and have given the fans something worth cheering for.
Last year the Flyers started off the season well, in fact they were 11-4-3 heading into the month of March, but their game was visibly faulty and it could’ve easily been a much different record. The month of March showed us the true 2020-21 Flyers as they went from 11-4-3 and first in the temporary East Division to 17-14-4 and barely hanging on, while losing games in blowout fashion on a weekly basis.
The roster purge promised us two things: accountability and leadership. It’s only been three games, but the impact has been so grand that the Flyers truly look like a completely different and much better team than last year’s version.
From top to bottom, there was no playing around within the organization; the front office, to the coaching staff, to the players themselves. Chuck Fletcher stuck by his coaches and gave them his vote of confidence, while the players quickly realized everything about last year was unacceptable.
There’s a new sense of optimism in the city for the Flyers, and it helps that the Philadelphia Eagles are rebuilding and the Philadelphia 76ers have the Ben Simmons drama to deal with. To solidify their stake in the city, finishing off the month of October with several wins will go a long way.
These are tough games ahead and the newcomers have done well so far, the core Flyers from yesteryear’s past have been chipping in admirably, and the goaltending has been stout from the third period of game one onwards. Beating the Florida Panthers will be step one and if successfully conquered, it should put the Flyers on notice around the NHL.