The 2018-19 season was a major disappointment for the Philadelphia Flyers. With a 37-37-8 record and 82 points, they finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division and missed the postseason for the fourth time in seven seasons.

Heading into 2019-20, however, things were bound to change. The Flyers had a new general manager running the behind-the-scenes action and a new head coach manning the bench. Even with young stars like Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, and Ivan Provorov ready to take the reins, management gave Kevin Hayes a boatload of money to step in as the second-line center.

Even with all that in mind, the story of the season is about something different. It’s not about the emergence of their young core or new faces on the ice, in the front office, or on the coaching staff. No, the Flyers’ success is about the way they’ve played against their most familiar opponents.

Divisional Performance

How a team performs against division rivals plays a major part in making or breaking a season. For the Flyers, games against their Metropolitan opponents only make up 28 of their 82 games, but you won’t find many teams with horrible divisional records thriving in the postseason.

Luckily, that hasn’t been an issue for Philadelphia this season. Last season, the Flyers held a grim 10-16-2 record against Metropolitan teams. With 20 games remaining, eight against divisional opponents, they have a 12-4-4 record against their division.

Ivan Provorov Philadelphia Flyers
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The improvement is noticeable. They’ve stolen 28 points from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and bitter rival Pittsburgh Penguins. They earned 22 through 28 games last season. With another 16 possible points on the board against Metropolitan opponents and already sitting in third, the Flyers’ postseason fate rests within those final eight games.

Season Trends

Up to this point in the season, there have been notable trends in the Flyers’ success. It’s not a 10-game winning streak or a colossal losing streak, but the success they’ve had against teams that have buried them in the past.

As far as struggles within the division go, the Flyers have only run into problems with the Islanders. Their 0-2-1 record is the worst against any Metropolitan team this year. However, with one game remaining versus the Isles, they can still manage a decent head-to-head record.

Morgan Frost Philadelphia Flyers
Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There are three teams to focus on in terms of the Flyers’ success: the Blue Jackets, Capitals, and Hurricanes. Last season, the Flyers weren’t able to solve any of them. Like most of the negatives from last year, they have turned things around this season. They’ve earned five points off the Hurricanes and Capitals in three games apiece along with a crucial series sweep over the Blue Jackets. Considering all three are either in a playoff spot or fighting for one, it’s hard to articulate just how important those wins are.

Lastly, and generally speaking, the Flyers’ success against the Metro has been the best trend of their season. Without their commendable division record, they wouldn’t have 77 points (just five short of last year’s season total) and would likely be missing the postseason again.

Looking Ahead

For a lack of a better phrase, it’s crunch time. The Flyers in the final quarter of the season and caught up in one of the tightest and most talented playoff races you’ll see. While their remaining 20 games will decide their postseason fate, it’s the eight against Metropolitan teams that matter the most.

Based on the way they’ve played against those rivals, the Flyers deserve to be in the position they’re in. They’ve battled through their fair share of adversity in the league’s strongest division, yet still find themselves in perfect position to clinch a playoff berth. Throughout the organization’s changes over the past year, it’s impressive that the team has managed to clean up one of the most glaring issues of seasons past.

Carter Hart Sean Couturier Philadelphia Flyers
Carter Hart Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Over the next six weeks, the 2019-20 Flyers will have to prove their worth, and that starts with continuing the dominance of their Metro counterparts. If they can manage some wins in their final eight divisional matchups, they should have no problem locking down a postseason berth.