On December 12, 2015, the Flyers were 11-12-4, buried in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division and sitting 12th out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.
Although they rebounded to qualify for the playoffs last year, the Flyers didn’t turn their season around until January, and then needed to go 17-6-4 over the final three months just to grab the last playoff berth.
Thanks to their nine-game winning streak, which was extended on Sunday night with a 1-0 overtime win in Detroit, the Flyers are in a much more favorable position in the standings than last year at this point.
At 18-10-3, they are tied with the Penguins for second place and are just two points behind the first place Rangers in the division and trail the conference-leading Canadiens by two points through Sunday’s games – but have also played the most games of any other team in the East.
“Yeah, we’re ahead a little bit here,” Wayne Simmonds said following Saturday’s come-from-behind win over the Stars. “We’ve got a lot of confidence and need to continue playing the way we’ve been playing … play Flyer Hockey.”
The Flyers have not lost since falling to the Rangers on Black Friday and the streak is the club’s longest since April of 1995. To put it into perspective, consider current Flyers rookies Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov were not even born yet and captain Claude Giroux was entering first grade.
They will attempt to hit double figures for the first time since 1985, when they won a franchise-record 13 straight, on Wednesday against the Avalanche.
While the Flyers are looking down on most of the conference right now, Jakub Voracek cautioned that it’s not even Christmas yet and there’s plenty of hockey left.
“It is only 30 games in,” he said Saturday. “Obviously, you are going to hit some slumps like every team does, but you have to make sure it doesn’t last for a long time.”
What the Flyers have essentially done with their perfect stretch is build a bit of a buffer against a slump. They players don’t need to treat each of the final 30 games of the season like a playoff game like they did last year, which was physically and mentally draining for them.
Instead, they can focus on keeping pace with the division and conference leaders rather than chase after that last playoff spot.
“When guys get confident, you’ve got that winning feeling and it’s a nice feeling to have in the locker room,” said Brayden Schenn, who had a hat trick on Saturday and the game-winner on Sunday. “We’re finding ways [to win] right now. You need to get on these streaks throughout an 82-game season to propel yourself forward for the playoff run.