By Rob Riches, Sports Talk Philly staff
Hockey season is 82 games long, but for the Flyers, there's an outside chance it could get a tad longer.
With the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot still hanging in the balance, the NHL announced on Friday that a play-in game between the Flyers and Florida Panthers -- essentially, Game 83 -- could go down under the right circumstances. It's a long shot, and would require several highly specific outcomes, but the possibility is out there.
From NBC Sports:
If at the conclusion of the regular season two teams competing for the final playoff berth in a conference are tied in points, ROW (regulation plus overtime wins), points in their season series (excluding the first home game for the team that has the extra game) and goal differential for the season, the following procedure will apply:
* A tiebreaking game will be played.
* An equally weighted draw will be conducted by the League – promptly upon the conclusion of the last game of the regular season on Sunday – to determine home-ice advantage for the game.
* Should the score of that game be tied at the end of regulation, overtime will be conducted under the rules that are in effect for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (i.e., five-on-five skaters, sudden-death, 20-minute periods until a winner is determined).
* For the purposes of the 2017-18 season, the tiebreaking game would be played Tuesday, April 10.
The Orange and Black face the New York Rangers in their last scheduled game, and would need to lose in regulation by exactly two goals. Meanwhile, the Panthers -- facing Buffalo on Saturday and Boston on Sunday -- would need to win both of their games in a shootout. South Florida typically needs to head to Homestead-Miami Raceway to see a race this tight.
Obviously, it's not the likeliest event, but with the playoff race as neck-and-neck as it is, the league is trying to cover all bases here. Sunday's Panthers-Bruins tilt was initially scheduled for Jan. 4, but with a bomb cyclone battering New England, it needed to be postponed.
This time of year never fails to excite for hockey fans, though there's a chance it can get quite agonizing. Buckle up, Flyers fans -- this one's gonna get tight.