The All-Star Break has come and gone, and of course, the Flyers are in a precarious standings position.
How important was the midseason break for the Orange and Black? Dave Hakstol had emphasized the importance of gaining points throughout the month of January if his team wants a shot at the playoffs. And it looked like they were well on their way to climbing up the Wild Card standings thanks to a six-game points streak from Jan. 5-17.
Just as it looked like the Flyers would be poised to strike, they dropped three games, to Toronto, Pittsburgh and Boston, respectively. For the uninitiated, that's a loss to a hapless club, a loss to an in-state division rival also in the thick of the playoff hunt and a loss to another playoff bubble team.
The Orange and Black topped off their pre-Break stretch with a 4-3 overtime win over Washington -- the league's top team, and a club that surely looks like they will snap the first- and second-round playoff woes that have plagued them for the past nine seasons. A win befitting of the old "statement win" cliche, yet also an optimal way to snap a losing skid.
Currently, the Flyers sit at seventh in the Metropolitan Division with 50 points. Somehow, they remain five points away from the second Wild Card playoff spot, but would have to jump over five other squads to get there.
Thirty-five games remain in the Flyers' season. They hold a 21-18-8 record. If winning the games leading up to the All-Star Break were important, then the games remaining this season are of the utmost urgency.
Over the next five games, the Flyers take the ice against Montreal, Nashville, the New York Rangers, the Capitals and Anaheim. For context, that's a win against a free-falling club, a Western Conference bubble team, a division rival, a rematch against another division rival and a date with one of the league's most enigmatic (read: disappointing) teams.
These next five games give the appearance of an easy opportunity for the Flyers to pick up at least six points. But considering their habit of playing down against bad teams, they can not take any of these opportunities for granted. It may seem hard to believe, but only two points separate the Flyers from the Canadiens -- who would have predicted that after the Habs' 9-0 run at the start of the season?
If there's one thing we've learned about the Flyers through 47 games, it's that they're a relatively Jekyll-and-Hyde club. They'll play one week like a team that could make a significant playoff push, but then look like a team destined for the Draft Lottery the next week.
One advantage that the Flyers still have is their games-in-hand total. Their 47 games played ties the Capitals and New York Islanders for lowest in the Eastern Conference. All teams play four games this week, so that games-played total will remain even as the week progresses.
The Orange and Black have taken a bit of a step back since their season-long points streak, but a playoff spot is still within reach -- they'll just have to work even harder now for it. However, their first few February games will help determine if they are capable of pulling a second-half comeback, or if their season will end after Game 82 for the second-consecutive year.
Rob Riches is a contributor to Flyerdelphia and Sports Talk Philly. Follow him on Twitter @Riches61