For some teams, the Playoffs won't start until April. Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers will be battling at a playoff level in the next month.
As the playoffs approach teams will be playing to climb high in the standings. Home-ice is an advantage coveted by most. The Flyers on the other hand don't need it. They are one of three teams in the NHL with 20 or more wins on the road.
That's not to say, they won't be battling down the stretch—they will be. But their battle will be different.
With new additions Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman on the blue line, the Flyers need to face their own demons. Team defense and poor starts are their biggest weaknesses as of now.
These are more mental aspect rather than a talent aspect. The Flyers are as good on paper as anyone.
With 19 games remaining the Flyers will need to erase the mental mistakes and fine tune their game. Once that is done, they will be in control of their own destiny.
Pavel Kubina and Nick Grossman are doing exactly what the Flyers hoped for—lightening the load for the other defensemen and providing a physical presence in front of the net.
Nick Grossman seems to have found a scoring touch. In six games with the Flyers he has four assists by contrast to his five assists in 52 games with Dallas this season.
Pavel Kubina hasn't had the start to his Flyer tenure but he brings a much needed hard shot and is visible in defending his crease.
These two allow for all three defensive pairings to be left out against any line at anytime making the coaching staff's job easier in line changes.
The Flyers are two years removed from a miracle run to a Stanley Cup finals. Issues in net and a weak third defensive pairing are non-existent at this time.
While the Flyers have over a half-dozen rookies playing at anytime, they have that many players from 2010. In addition to those remaining players they also have future hall of fame player Jaromir Jagr and big-game player Max Talbot.
Ilya Bryzgalov had a rough start to his Philadelphia Flyers tenure. It certainly wasn't all his fault but he has definitely taken a look in the mirror and righted the ship.
Earlier in the season he wasn't making the "momentum" saves on a nightly basis. Now Bryzgalov is making them every five seconds it seems.
Then again, maybe it's just universe time. In his past two seasons in Phoenix Bryzgalov played just about every game through March and April to push them into the playoffs.
The Coyotes fell short both years to the much more superior Redwings both times. This year Bryzgalov won't have to face the winged wheel in the playoffs unless both clubs make it to the finals.
If Bryzgalov can continue playing at this level through the playoffs the Flyers will make at least a finals appearance.
Scott Hartnel is the Flyers' leader this year. Yes Claude Giroux is their best player but Hartnell does whatever it takes to win.
If he isn't scoring, he's hitting, if he isn't hitting, if he isn't hitting he's fighting. Heck in some several games he's doing all three!
On top of that he leads the team in plus/minus at plus- 17.
In addition to Hartnell the Flyers have Kimmo Timonen, Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere and Max Talbot that provide a plethora of leadership on and off the ice.
This slide is dedicated to the man in the picture, Danny Briere.
He's currently in one of his worst scoring droughts as a Flyer. Briere has now gone 18 games without a goal.
As the season winds down though, Danny Briere and his Flyer brethren will step up their play.
Briere himself has 96 points in 97 playoff games. He's a player made for the playoffs.
His teammates haven't played a full 60 minutes in a hockey game yet.
The forwards are at times, lazy on the back-check leaving opposing forwards open for easy tip-ins. Look for this trend to stop as the games become more important.
I's that simple for the Flyers, play a full game, eliminate mistakes and they will control their own destiny.