Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we'll look at the reasons for concern.
Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They've played well within the division and have dominated at home.
Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.
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The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.
Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers' first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.
But what might be the Flyers' most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they've performed against the NHL's best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.
The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.
Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.
Vigneault's track record will be tested over the Flyers' final 32 games.
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