Surging Flyers playoff chances continue to grow

Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux. (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Claude Giroux. (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The book was always going to be out on whether or not the Philadelphia Flyers were a playoff team entering the 2019-20 season. While there is still more than a quarter of the campaign remaining, here is Alain Vigneault’s men knocking on the door of postseason contention. 

The Flyers hammered the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals on Saturday, 7-2, behind two goals from Sean Couturier and a three-tally barrage in less than two minutes at the start of the second period. 

Philadelphia’s longest-tenured athlete, Claude Giroux, also reached a milestone in the process. With a goal and two assists, he hit the 800-point mark for his career. 

That’s fourth-most in franchise history. 

It broke a 13-game goalless streak, tied for the longest of his career. 

“It’s great, but with where I am in my carer right now, that kind of stuff isn’t a priority,” he said (h/t Philadelphia Inquirer). “But if you’re getting points, there’s a good chance your team is going to have a chance to win.”

With the emphatic win — which was the perfect bounceback needed after a 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils — the Flyers are just two points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division entering Sunday night. 

“We acknowledged how embarrassing and how bad we were the other night, and we brought one of our best efforts of the season tonight,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “It’s a good sign that we have a lot of character in here.”

What continues to strengthen the Flyers’ playoff hopes is the opposition in which they are succeeding. 

Devils clunker aside, the Flyers are 7-3-2 in their last 12 games that has featured two wins against the Capitals, one against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, triumphs against last year’s Stanley Cup Final combatants — the champion St. Louis Blues and runner-up Boston Bruins — and another against the up-and-coming Colorado Avalanche.

Philadelphia’s upcoming schedule doesn’t get much easier, either. 

They host the Florida Panthers on Monday night before traveling to Brooklyn to face the resolute New York Islanders — whom they trail by just one point in the Metropolitan standings. 

That’s the first leg of a three-game road trip that features a stop in Sunrise for a rematch against the Panthers before heading to Tampa Bay to face the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning. 

If the Flyers can come out of that stretch with two wins, the hopes of a return to the playoffs will only continue to grow. 

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