We are in the midst of the 2nd half of the NHL season and the Wild Card picture in the Eastern Conference is becoming tighter. While the New York Rangers are comfortably in control of the first Wild Card spot, the same can not be said about the Philadelphia Flyers. It seems that over the last few weeks, they have seen their lead for the second Wild Card spot slot slim down. In those couple of weeks, we have seen teams like the Lighting, Sabres, and Devils provide no wiggle room for the Flyers. However, the Flyers should not be worried about those teams and be more concerned with the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins who have trimmed the lead for the Flyers down to one point.
After the Flyers lost to the New York Islanders by the score of 3-1, it became less of a dream and almost more of a real shot that the Islanders will be making it to the playoffs. In the first four games of 2017, the Islanders happen to be 2-2 with wins over the Maple Leafs and the Flyers. In 2017, this Islanders team has gone 9-7, which has done them wonders. Personally, I feel the firing of head coach Jack Capuano has done this team wonders.
What makes this team tough to beat is that they have a tendency not to blow out opponents by large margins. The last time they won a game by blowing out an opponent, you need to go back to their last game against the Bruins back on January 16th when they defeated them 4-0. A majority of their victories in 2017 have been by one or two goals, which also shows you how well this team plays on defense. You can attest a lot of the success to what the Islanders have done so far to guys like John Tarves, Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, and others. One thing that the Islanders exhibit is that they don’t rely on one guy to run that offense.
While the Islanders have made life difficult for the Flyers, the Boston Bruins have also made it tough for the Flyers. Unlike the Islanders, who are having a decent February, the same can’t be said about the Bruins who have gone 1-2 with the only win coming over San Jose. The Bruins have not had a productive 2017 season as they have gone 6-11, but are somehow staying right in the middle of the Eastern Conference picture.
The Islanders and Bruins don’t clash again until the end of March, so every game is going to be important for the Bruins to keep up with the Islanders. In what many consider to be a surprising move, the Bruins fired their head coach. My guess is they did that because they were not having an above average 2017. The Boston Bruins are hoping for the same thing to happen to them just like the Islanders had it happen to them.
Overall, we are cruising in on the final weeks of the season and if the Flyers keep floundering like they have, there is a very good chance that by the time the playoffs begin we could see the two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference be represented by the two New York teams.