Let’s take a look at the schedule for the month of October. If this edition of the Philadelphia Flyers will have any hope of making the playoffs, a fast start is a must. The past few years the Flyers have struggled out of the gate. Two seasons ago their sluggish start cost Peter Laviolette his job and then last year they failed to get any traction all year after starting off 1-5. This year they need to find a way to turn around their early season struggles.
It will be no easy task as they open the season October 8th against the Lightning, a team many expect to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Florida trip continues from there to face the Panthers. After opening their home schedule against the Panthers, they face off against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. The gauntlet continues against the new look Stars.
The Flyers then go on the road for a game against the Bruins. This game is very winnable as the Bruins have had just a terrible offseason. Then the Flyers return home for three games against the Rangers, the Sabres, and the Devils. October closes out on the road against the Sabres.
The Rangers will be strong once again this year as their biggest offseason change was GM Glen Sather stepping down. The Sabres have made a great deal of changes to their roster that will undoubtedly be positive but they are not quite there just yet. The one spot on this schedule that is as close to an automatic win for this team is the Devils. They are going to be a very bad team. They have no real bright spots to look at either, especially with the departure of team architect Lou Lamoriello off to try to turn around the Maple Leafs.
Here is how I see them playing out October.
10/8 @Tampa Bay Loss
10/10 @Florida Win
10/12 Florida Win
10/14 Chicago Loss
10/20 Dallas Loss
10/21 @ Boston Win
10/24 New York Loss
10/27 Buffalo Win
10/29 New Jersey Win
10/30 @ Buffalo Loss
It will be a difficult challenge but it’s possible that the Flyers could wrap up October 5-5 or even 6-4 with a few breaks. This should be considered a success based on the ineffective starts the team has had the past two seasons plus the growing pains they will most likely experience under a new coach. If they can play improved team defense and find consistent scoring from players not named Giroux or Voracek 6-4 is not out of reach in the early stretch of the season. Overall this season is about development. Patience will be must to watch this team but there is hope here for the long term. All in and all I don’t know if this is a playoff team yet but one thing is certain if they start this season as they did the past two years then they will have very little chance of getting in.