The Jekyll and Hyde Flyers With Plenty Left

It was a microcosm of the 2017-18 season.

The Flyers had just beaten the first-place Capitals, 6-3, to emphatically take the regular-season series, 3-1, by impressively outscoring Washington, 19-11.

Two days later, the Flyers went to Detroit and showed up for only one period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings, who had lost 10 straight games.

The never-know-what-you're-gonna-get Flyers in full form.

"The second period was god-awful," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said then on March 20. "We really didn't help our cause out. We weren't pushing plays and we just weren't battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass."

The Flyers haven't exactly lit the world on fire since, winning two of their last four games with a pair of overtime defeats. Nonetheless, they're in fine position for a postseason berth with four games to play. 

In the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers are one point behind the third-place Blue Jackets and just two back of the second-place Penguins. With 92 points, they sit in the Eastern Conference's top wild-card spot. To fall out of the playoff picture, they would have to totally collapse. The Panthers, at 86 points, would be the team to steal a bid, but three of their last six games come against the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

Then again, with the Flyers, you just never know. Heck, night in and night out, they're not even sure which goalie is the best bet.

It's what could make them such a fascinating but also frustrating team in the postseason, just like they were through varying streaks of the regular season.

When looking at the numbers, the Flyers are a middle-of-the-pack bunch - a team with a nearly even goal differential (plus-two) that can beat anyone as well as lose to anyone. Entering Friday, out of 31 NHL teams, they're 14th in goals per game (2.97), 18th in goals allowed per game (2.88), 17th in power-play percentage (20.0) and 26th in penalty-kill percentage (75.8).

But they're the makeup for a dangerous playoff out. With Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier having career years, youngsters ready for bigger roles and a talented top defensive pair, the Flyers should like their chances.

This is a far better team than the 2015-16 eighth-seeded Flyers.

"I think it doesn't matter," Travis Konecny said March 18 after that win over the Capitals. "Whoever we're playing against, I think we'll be able to match lines and play hard against them."

For the Flyers right now, it's just about getting into the postseason. They'll control that with three of their final four games at home, starting Sunday against the Bruins.

As for the playoffs, anything can happen. 

All it takes is a hot-and-cold team like the Flyers reaching down and pulling out one of those good streaks.

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