Friday, December 26, 2008

Road Trip!

The Flyers are 10-0-2 in their last twelve home games. What better time to go on a six-game road trip? What prospect could be more exciting than thirteen of the next eighteen games away from home?

Because of their location right in the center of it all in Philadelphia, the Flyers do less traveling than most any other team. No team in the NHL has a less distant most distant divisional opponent (you may have to read that more than once to get it).

The Flyers have won less than half their road games, stacking up a decidedly unimpressive 7-4-4 record away from home this year, and are winless outside the Eastern Time Zone. The Flyers have only won one game on the road this year that followed another road game. And so on and so on...

Now that all the doom and gloom is out of the way, here's a quick blow-by-blow of the Flyers' next two weeks of nomadism:

  1. @ Chicago, 12/26. There may be no worse team to be facing right now than the Blackhawks. The combination of Patrick Kane (#1 in Western Conference forward All-Star voting), Jonathan Toews (#2 in Western Conference forward All-Star voting), and the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field have made hockey suddenly relevant in this once deadest of Original Six cities, with the Blackhawks now easily selling out every home game. The 'Hawks have won seven in a row, including a couple huge blowouts, as well as a sweep of the Flames, Oilers, and Canucks on a swing through Western Canada. This isn't the team you want to start a long road campaign against.

  2. @ Columbus, 12/27. You gotta feel for Blue Jackets fans, who are still waiting on their first playoff appearance in this their ninth season. They do have some nice goaltending coming up in Steve Mason, and they did have that one fluke nice win over San Jose. The Flyers have never lost to the Blue Jackets in their seven previous meetings. The real concern here is that the Flyers have to play in front of thousands of Ohioans on an "All You Can Eat Night." Even with plexiglass separating the Flyers from the hoards of masticating Buckeyes, it has to be a troubling scene.

  3. @ Vancouver 12/30. The last Flyers game of 2008 is in Vancouver, home of the 2010 Olympics and one of the most unpredictable teams in the NHL. The Canucks have been minus-Luongo, but are now plus-Sundin, a change to the equation that might not make a ton of difference early on given Mats' absence from the game. The Flyers are secretly phenomenal in Vancouver, stacking up a 30-10-12 (W-L-T, no OTLs) all-time record in British Columbia.

  4. @ Anaheim 1/2. After ringing in 2009 at Disneyland (presumably), the Flyers face the Anaheim Ducks, who seem to have now fully recovered from falling flat on their faces in the 2008 playoffs during their attempt to defend their 2007 Stanley Cup. The Ducks have recovered from their early losing skids, and have racked up plenty of wins lately. It is easily noted, however, that most all of these wins have come against pretty crappy teams. And the Flyers are not a crappy team.

  5. @ Los Angeles 1/3. The second-to-last regular season game for the Flyers outside of the Eastern Time Zone is at the Staples Center, versus the always disappointing Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are so bad that FS-W interviews the cast of Chuck during play rather than show the game. The Flyers should be happy to get the Kings past regulation, where they are a decidedly less-than-kingly 2-6.

  6. @ Washington 1/6. The Flyers end their epic six-game trek close to home, at the friendly confines of the Verizon Center, where they play an otherwise hot Capitals team that pooed all over themselves upon stepping onto the ice in Philadelphia last Saturday in a blowout 7-1 loss at the Wachovia Center. This marks the Flyers' first return to D.C. since their Game 7 OT win in the first round of the 2008 playoffs, their first return since getting garbage thrown at them during post-game interviews. Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau vowed revenge or something after the Caps aforementioned self-pooing in Philadelphia last Saturday, so we'll have to wait and see if that leads to anything. Previous talk by Caps players about wanting revenge against the Flyers for their playoff loss to them only led to self-pooing the first time, and it's likely the result will be the same again. With that in mind, it's still worth noting that Alex Ovechkin is still frighteningly good.
Then it's back home to brotherly love and WaWa. The Flyers are only two points behind the Rangers for first in the Atlantic, with a whopping three games in-hand, so they have a huge opportunity on this tough part of the schedule. Let's just hope they can make the most of it.

No comments: