The playoff push is officially underway for the Flyers.
With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, their postseason fate will be determined over the next two-plus months and by their 32 remaining games. Heading into Tuesday night’s game in Carolina, they owned a 25-19-6 record and held the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
However, the Maple Leafs trail the Flyers by one point while a host of teams are also within striking distance.
The difference between whether or not they earn a second-straight trip to the playoffs will likely come down to developing some form of consistency.
Consider that over the last two months, the Flyers have been either white hot or ice cold with very little in between.
They put together a 10-game winning streak, which matched the third longest stretch in team history, in November and December, but immediately did a 180 and lost seven of their next eight and won just three of the next 15 games. The Flyers temporarily righted the ship before the All-Star break with three straight wins.
Despite the rollercoaster stretch, the team is trying to keep things in perspective.
“The highs really aren’t that high and the lows really weren’t that low,” coach Dave Hakstol said after the team’s final game before the All-Star break last Thursday. “There are some small differences that are in there. We played some real good hockey games during the time where you could call it the slump. So for us it is the simple things.”
Still, the Flyers know they can’t continue to go from one extreme to the other. They need to remain on an even keel.
“I think we were trying to find our game a little bit after we won 10 in a row,” captain Claude Giroux said. “We got away from our game and how we wanted to play. But you know what, [Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Leafs was] a team effort.
“The last few games our goalies have been playing well, the D are moving the puck well and the forwards are doing their job. We can still improve but we’re definitely going in the right direction now.”
After traveling to face the Hurricanes, who are six points behind the Flyers but have played two less games, the Flyers open a five-game home stand against the Canadiens, Kings, Blues, Islanders and Sharks.
It’s the perfect time, and place, to start to build some much-needed consistency for the playoff push.
“I like the way that we played all three games [before the break],” said Wayne Simmonds, who was the team’s lone representative at the All-Star Game, took home MVP honors and was named NHL First Star of the Week last week. “For us, it’s just keeping that attack mindset and not making mistakes.”