Philadelphia Flyers Can't Skate Away from Fifty-Fifty Rut

By Sean O'Brien
Philadelphia Flyers NHL
Debby Wong – USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers have been floating like ice in a half-empty glass during this shortened-season. An old psychological cliche teaches us that the proverbial glass is also half-full. But, playing somewhere around .500 this season isn’t good no matter what any shrink says.

After dropping last night’s game (4-2) at Madison Square Garden to the New York Rangers, Peter Laviolette’s drifting ice boys find themselves with 23 points and an 11-12-1 record. Halfway into this unusual hockey year the Flyers are hardly out of the Eastern Conference playoff race. However, a reasonable argument can be made that they could fall out of the postseason chase with one bad stretch of games this month.

Here’s the dilemma: The 24 games that the Flyers have played thus far has only been equaled by the Buffalo Sabres. Every other Eastern Conference team has played less games this season, some as many as four less games. That point is key because Philadelphia only has another 24 games remaining in their regular season schedule.

Issues involving the team’s defensive depth, whether enough of the four offensive lines can generate consistent scoring chances and the play of Ilya Bryzgalov down the stretch may prove moot if enough wins aren’t posted in March. There are too many competitive teams in and around the Flyers’ modest 23-point total at the present time. At some point, at least a few of their opponents will overtake them in the standings.

It’s my guess that if the orange and black don’t go on the attack immediately, that they will slip outside of the top 10 teams in the Conference. Another important two points will be available when the Flyers’ host the Pittsburgh Penguins this Thursday. It’s not as though every contest is a must-win, but Laviolette’s squad is surely sliding toward that undesired portion of the rink.

Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.

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