Key 16 points at stake over 8 games

Starting tonight, at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, the Flyers begin a stretch of three games in four nights.

More importantly, it’s the beginning of a stretch of 8 games - almost 10 percent of the season's schedule - where they play a team with a winning record just three times. It is interesting to wonder what kind of position the Flyers will be in after Dec. 9.

For comparison's sake, Nov. 23, 2009 started a downward spiral last year that cost John Stevens his job on Dec. 4.

The Flyers have an opportunity to be in a remarkably different place when this run is over, with a chance to distance themselves from their Atlantic division foes.

Let’s take a deeper statistical look at the first 5 opponents in that stretch:

TONIGHT: at Minnesota (8 p.m., TCN), 10th in West, 17th in NHL.

  • Wild are 10-7-2 after starting 1-2-1 with a trip to Helsinki, Finland
  • Flyers are 1-2-1 at Xcel Energy Center
  • Minnesota swept both games against the Flyers last season
  • Wild broke a sellout streak of 383 straight games on Oct. 16, which included every home game in their existence since 2000
  • Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat lead the Wild in scoring but have just 11 combined goals between them
  • Minnesota is one of just four teams to be ranked in the Top 10 in the NHL in power play (2nd) and penalty kill (7th).
  • Did you know Sean O’Donnell played 63 games for Minnesota in 2000-01?
  • The Wild have never won three straight games against the Flyers
  • Nik Zherdev has scored 13 points in 16 career games vs. Minnesota
  • Minnesota claimed Patrick O’Sullivan off waivers on Tuesday from Carolina and re-assigned Casey Wellman to AHL Houston.

FRIDAY: vs. Calgary (1 p.m., CSN), 14th in West, 27th in NHL.

  • Calgary will spend Thanksgiving in Philly after visiting New Jersey on Wednesday
  • The Flames (8-11-1) are on a 5-game East Coast swing that includes Detroit, New York Rangers, Devils, Flyers and Penguins.
  • Jarome Iginla moved into a tie for the team lead in scoring with 6 goals in his last 3 games after trade talk heated up about the Flames’ long-time captain possibly being moved. He now has 9 goals and 8 assists in 20 games.
  • Mikka Kiprusoff has a .905 save percentage
  • The Flyers beat Calgary, 3-0, in their only matchup last season – at the Saddledome. Did you know that was Ray Emery’s last game in a Flyers sweater?
  • All-time, the Flyers are 35-15-3-1 in Philadelphia against the Calgary/Atlanta franchise.

SATURDAY: at New Jersey (1 p.m., CSN), 14th in East, 29th in NHL.

  • New Jersey (6-13-2) is 3-4-1 since starting the season 3-9-1.
  • Amazingly, the Devils trounced the Capitals – who are tied for league lead in points with the Flyers – by a 5-0 score on Monday night at the Prudential Center.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a $100-million deal in the summer, hasn’t scored in his last 4 games and has just 4 goals this season to go along with 6 assists. That’s good for 4th in team scoring.
  • Exactly 30 different players have skated in at least 2 games for the salary cap strapped Devils, who dressed as little as 15 players in one game
  • Despite a poor record, Marty Brodeur still has a respectable 2.74 goals against-average and a .901 save percentage. Last year, Brodeur’s goals against average was 3.34 against the Flyers in the regular season.
  • The Devils are just 2-5-2 at the Prudential Center this season, where the average attendance has been 14,550 (82.6% capacity)
  • Newark hasn’t been the House of Horrors it once was: the Flyers were 2-1-0 at New Jersey in the regular season and 2-1-0 there in the playoffs, when they dispatched the Devils in 5 games in the first round on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

WED., DEC. 1: vs. Boston (7 p.m., CSN), 7th in East, 13th in NHL.

  • Next Wednesday is the Flyers’ first meeting with the Bruins since last year’s epic second round series in which the Flyers overcame a 3-0 series deficit and 3-0 deficit in Game 7.
  • Boston (11-6-2) was the odds-on favorite to win the Northeast division.
  • The Bruins have picked up at least one point in 4 out of their last 5 games.
  • The Flyers were 2-1-1 against the Bruins in the regular season last year, winning once at home and once at TD Garden.
  • Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each had 4 points in 4 games against the Flyers last year.
  • Newcomer Nathan Horton, acquired in an offseason trade with Florida, leads Boston with 8 goals and 10 assists in 19 games. Milan Lucic has 17 points.
  • At 42 years old, former Flyer Mark Recchi is still plugging along with 13 points.
  • The biggest story for the Bruins have been the resurgence of Tim Thomas, who has lost just once in 12 starts. His goals against average is a ridiculous 1.49 and he has stopped more than 95-percent of the shots he’s faced. Tuukka Rask is just 1-5-1 in net.

The Flyers finish off the stretch with the Devils (Dec. 4), Islanders (Dec. 5), Sharks (Dec. 8) and Toronto (Dec. 9).

Check out our latest video with CineSport’s Noah Coslov from Tuesday:

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