Philadelphia Flyers' 2013-14 NHL Schedule: Must-See Games, Predictions & More
The Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in the new Metropolitan Division, which is just about as bad of a name as you can get for a division.
In the Western Conference, there are two seven-team divisions—the Pacific and Midwest. In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions have eight teams each.
The realignment and new scheduling aim to have every team play in every arena at least once a season, which is actually a pretty cool premise.
The Flyers' particular division is advantageous just based on a travel standpoint, as they have by far the least distance between teams out of all four divisions.
But their schedule is tough and they have a couple of hard road trips which could end up being the deciding factor of their season.
Here's a breakdown of Philadelphia's schedule and new division, along with a prediction of where the Flyers will finish in the new Eastern Conference.
October 24 vs. New York Rangers
New York has dominated the rivalry recently, but the Rangers are reeling a little after last year.
It will only be 22 days into the season, but Philadelphia will want to show the Rangers and new head coach Alain Vigneault that the Flyers aren't to be messed with this year in the Wells Fargo Center.
March 18 vs. Chicago
This will only be the second time Chicago has played in Philadelphia since the Hawks defeated the Flyers to win the 2010 Stanley Cup.
Coming off their 2013 Stanley Cup championship in June, Patrick Kane and the boys will surely be welcomed back to the City of Brotherly Love in a very unloving manner.
April 12 at Pittsburgh
Second-last game of the season, in Pittsburgh...this is an easy one. Remember what happened the last time these two rivals met late in the season with playoff seeding still at stake?
Breaking Down the New Division
The obvious changes are the additions of Columbus, Carolina and Washington. Columbus and Carolina are not really worth worrying about. Washington is a talented team and its rivalry with Philadelphia could blossom.
Overall, the division did not really get any more threatening. The Devils have taken a major step back over the past year, but the Islanders' improvements just switch the two teams' respective standing.
Toughest Stretch of Games
February 27-March 18: The Flyers play a lot of really good teams over this stretch—and right when they get back from the Olympic break, which could complicate things further.
They start out hosting the San Jose Sharks, then play the Rangers, have a home-and-home with the Capitals, go to Toronto, come home to play the Devils, have a home-and-home with the Penguins and finish off the stretch by hosting the defending champion Blackhawks.
This 10-game period is crucial not only because of the difficulty but the timing. It comes right after a 19-day break and begins the home stretch of the season.
Predicted Finish in Eastern Conference: Sixth
I think the Flyers will nab the third spot in their division, which guarantees them of a playoff berth under the new format.
The Penguins should win the division (and the conference), and then I think there will be a vicious four-way battle in the division with the Flyers, Islanders, Rangers and Capitals fighting for the final two spots.
The Flyers would do well to clinch a berth with that third spot in their division too, because in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins and Red Wings will be at the top with at least five other good teams following behind them.
I think it will be a tight race, but as long as the Flyers stay healthy, their new veteran additions should help put them over the top.