It has been a very rough start to the 2013-14 regular season for the Philadelphia Flyers. With only 2 points in the standings, they are statistically the worst team in the National Hockey League. That being said, they are only 6 points out of a playoff spot with over 70 games remaining. The season is young.
Captain, Claude Giroux is thinking positively despite his team’s awful record of 1-7-0, coupled with a goal differential of (-13). The Flyers have only scored 11 goals through 8 games played, which is the lowest offensive production from an NHL team since 1964, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer who tweeted the following on October 18:
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) October 18, 2013
As captain, Giroux is responsible for leading the way both on and off the ice for his Flyers. This morning, he took charge and made a bold statement concerning the state of his hockey club. Giroux told ESPN, “We never thought about not making the playoffs. We’ve got to go game by game and we will make the playoffs.” To read Giroux’s quote in its entirety please click here and enjoy ESPN‘s article entitled “Claude Giroux: Playoffs for Flyers.”
Giroux experienced a breakout season in 2011-12, finishing 3rd in league scoring with 28 goals, and 65 assists, totalling 93 points. In the shortened 2013 season he failed to duplicate the success of two years ago, and the Flyers missed the playoffs for only the second time since 1996. The miss was more a product of a slow defence corps and unpredictable goaltending than anything Giroux did or didn’t do last season.
The Flyers have not missed the Stanley Cup playoffs two years in a row since 1994 and 1995. Having missed last season, this is supposed to be a bounce back year for the Flyers – an opportunity to prove last year’s disappointment was a fluke. So far, last season’s playoff absence seems more like an accurate depiction of the team’s current status than a one-off.
The Flyers are 6 points out of the playoff picture at the moment. The New York Islanders occupy third spot in the Metropolitan Division with only 8 points. However, there are four teams between the Isles and the Flyers, a list that includes the Columbus Blue Jackets 6 pts, Washington Capitals 6 pts, New Jersey Devils 5 pts, and New York Rangers 4 pts.
The Flyers play three more games this month, including one each against division rivals the Rangers and Islanders. Losing against the New York teams would bury the Flyers into a deep hole they could spend all season trying to climb out of.
CBC‘s Elliott Friedman recently discussed how difficult it is for an NHL team to recover from a bad October in his incredible ongoing blog called “30 Thoughts.” In this week’s episode of 30 Thoughts, Friedman opens with some interesting stats about teams making the playoffs after sitting outside of the post season race by November 1st. Friedman says, “just three of 32 NHL teams at least four points out of a playoff spot on Nov. 1 recovered to make the playoffs from 2005-06 to 2011-12.” You can read the full article by Elliott Friedman of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada here.
Nothing is impossible, however, Friedman’s findings provides insight into how tough it will be for the Flyers to claw their way back into the thick of things even though the road ahead is basically an entire season of opportunities to gain ground. The key for the Flyers will be doing exactly what Giroux said – “take it game by game,” because starting November more than 6 points out, let’s say 8 or 10 points out, would be almost impossible to overcome in a league where teams get points for losing in overtime.
One thing that may alter the dynamics of the November 1st rule discovered by Friedman, is that the new divisional structure has changed the way teams qualify for the playoffs. NHL Realignment may slightly alter the November 1 rule if a particular division is very weak.