The Philadelphia Flyers finished October with a .500 record at 4-4-2, which when considering what they were up against is no small feat.
Their schedule was, for a lack of a better word, unforgiving.
There were no soft spots, no easy points. There was no Buffalo, Florida or Carolina.
Instead, nine of their first 10 games were against teams that qualified for the playoffs – the only that missed was the Devils who nearly made the cut.
They traveled to Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. They hosted the Canadiens, Ducks, Red Wings and Kings.
Three of those teams were division winners, one won the Presidents Cup for the most points, three advanced to the conference finals and one won the Stanley Cup.
And still the Flyers entered November, which opened with a loss to the Panthers on Saturday and includes a much more forgivable slate, with their heads at the water line.
“I feel like every time we start playing a good block of teams I think that’s when we start playing our best,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I think the better the teams we play obviously we step up to the challenge.”
They also skated without arguably three of their top four defensemen on a unit that was already suspect to begin with. Kimmo Timonen is likely done for the year with blood clots, while Braydon Coburn (lower body) has been out since the season opener and Andrew MacDonald (lower body) missed the final three games of the month.
“It’s a huge positive for us,” Jakub Voracek said last week. “The schedule was tough and we have had a couple of injuries. (But) We are still finding ways to win, which is most important.”
It looked rather ominous when the Flyers were still looking for their first win after four games.
“I just tried to stay consistent (after four games), and that’s what I tried to tell the players,” coach Craig Berube said. “You have to stay with it and keep working, compete and good things will happen.”
They did. Now, the Flyers must sustain it.
“We just need to keep pushing forward and playing good hockey,” Simmonds said. “I think over the last week or two we’ve started playing a lot better but we need to continue.”