The Chicago Blackhawks are once again playing like the Chicago Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and company have won six straight games, have caught Nashville and are now leading the Central Division.
The Flyers headed to California for three games, and finished with a 1-1-1 record on the trip. Certainly one of the more interesting road swings for the Orange and Black this season, as they lost to San Jose with 11.5 seconds on the clock, lost to NHL-best Anaheim in a shootout and beat (stunningly mediocre) Los Angeles, 2-1, to snap a six-game losing streak.
Three points is a step in the right direction for the Flyers, who still hold down sixth place in the Metropolitan Division with 22 points and a 9-13-4 record. The Flyers' record now improves to 5-3-2 against teams from the stronger Western Conference, and 3-1-2 against Pacific Division clubs. Not to mention Saturday's win over the Kings was their second this season over the defending Stanley Cup champs.
But as hockey fans have learned on numerous occasions over the years, the NHL isn't about what you've done. It's about how you move forward after what you've done.
It's always nice to see the Flyers snap a losing skid, and/or come away from matchups in a tough division with three points. But when the team's focus is the playoffs come March and April (in the event they make a later-season push), that December road trip will seem an eternity ago.
The Flyers move forward beginning on Tuesday, when they head to Columbus (which will be R.J. Umberger's return to Nationwide Arena). They return home Thursday to take on New Jersey, and face Carolina in a Saturday matinee.
What better chance to move forward than with three consecutive games against Metro Division opponents?
The Flyers and Blue Jackets each have nine wins, but the Flyers are two points ahead by virtue of two more overtime losses (loser point be damned!). The Orange and Black also sit just two points behind the Devils in the standings. With the Devils facing Chicago on Tuesday, the Flyers have a nice opportunity to make up that ground, and potentially tie the Devils for fifth place (assuming they beat the Blue Jackets).
You may remember the Flyers' 6-4 home-opener loss to the Devils on Oct. 9, or their 4-3 loss to the Blue Jackets in Scott Hartnell's return to Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 14. Chances are, you also remember their 4-2 win over the Jackets on Nov. 22. But now, those games are almost meaningless as far as this week's matchups are concerned. Sure, they provide interesting storylines, but ultimately, those three games are well in the rearview mirror, and all three teams have moved forward.
There's no doubt that things were looking bleak for the Flyers during their recent six-game losing streak. But that's in the past now, and their 1-1-1 stretch in the California sun is a crucial step in moving forward. The Flyers have a decent chance at sliding up in the standings this week, and put that dismal streak well behind them -- where it belongs.
Rob Riches is a columnist for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Riches61.
On December 2, 1963, 51 years ago, twin boys were born in Viking, Alberta Canada. This would normally not strike anyone as a big deal or very newsworthy.
However, with a hockey lineage attributed to the last name of Sutter, it was the arrival of two more boys to add into the pipeline headed to the NHL. Rich and Ron - the youngest of six boys - would later don the orange and black of the Flyers and play together in the Spectrum in the mid-1980s. They would join their brothers Duane, Brent, Darryl and Brian who were already in the NHL.