Are the Philadelphia Flyers legitimate playoff contenders? A question that hockey fans at the beginning of the season would have laughed at.
Starting the season 0-3 was not where the Flyers would have liked to have been. Management felt like something needed to happen, and it needed to happen quick. The first thing that had to change was the coaching. General Manager, Paul Holmgren, felt that late head coach, Peter Laviolette was not running the team how a team should be run, especially after losing their first three games. On October 7, Holmgren informed Laviolette that he would no longer be needed to fill the head coaching position. Holmgren also informed Flyers assistant coach, Craig Berube, that he would be the next Flyers head coach.
Things were starting to turn around with Berube, his first game as head coach was against the Florida Panthers. This was a game of firsts, the Flyers and Berube got their first win of the season. Next the Flyers would play the Phoenix Coyotes. A loss for the Flyers. The Flyers would not win their second game until October 24, nearly 2 weeks after their first win, when they would face the New York Rangers. The Flyers really got slapped in the face after falling to the Washington Capitals, 7-0 at home. This is when the boys in the Orange and Black would realize something needed to happen if they wanted to be legitimate playoff contenders.
It wouldn't be until November 8 that the Flyers would begin to turn around and begin winning games. A closed door players only meeting lit the spark. The Flyers began winning games, moving up in the standings, and building streaks. Captain Claude Giroux would also score his first goal of the season against the Edmonton Oilers.
The boys now have a winning record of 21-17-4 after an impressive win (5-3) against the Coyotes on January 4. With this win, the Flyers are now second in the Metropolitan Division, seventh in the Eastern Conference, and seventieth in the League. This puts them in a playoff position.
Are the Flyers legitimate playoff contenders? If they continue the way they are playing, then yes. They have the talent they need to be in the playoffs, they need to take advantage of this talent, convert on scoring chances. If they are able to do this, they will make it pretty far in the playoffs.