Clinch or Miss: Scenarios for Flyers around Saturday’s game

This is it for the Flyers. Two games remain, but by the close of Saturday, the true final day of the NHL regulars season for the 26 teams not affected by Winter Storm Jonas is January, the Flyers could already have learned their fate, good or bad.

With so much at stake, here are the ways the Flyers clinch a playoff spot, miss the playoffs or keep their season alive into the final game on Sunday.

First things first, the Flyers will be scoreboard watching prior to Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Boston Bruins play the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings play the New York Rangers with both games starting at 12:30 p.m.

It may actually be more comforting to know what the Flyers have to do themselves before going into the game, instead of having their game come first and the scoreboard watching come later.

The numbers to know for the Flyers here are two, three and four. The Flyers will start the day with a magic number of four that could shrink pending the results of the Boston and Detroit games. If they do at all, the Flyers number changes to three or two and will tell you exactly the number of points the Flyers need over the final two games to make the playoffs.

The Flyers will be in good shape with a regulation loss by either team. That will bring the Flyers magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two, meaning a win over Pittsburgh will lock them in without Sunday's game playing a factor.

Even then, the Flyers could actually lose Saturday's game to Pittsburgh and still be able to make the playoffs with a win over the Islanders on Sunday. Getting two points over the final two games would lock them into the playoffs in that scenario.

An overtime loss by either team knocks the number down to three, meaning the Flyers will need to win one of their final two games and get at least a point in the other. 

If both Detroit and Boston win in regulation, then the Flyers fate could shift a different way. Any loss to Pittsburgh would render Sunday's game meaningless and the Flyers would miss the playoffs, because they do not hold the advantage in tiebreakers with Detroit or Boston.

Basically, the Flyers need to be within one point of Detroit or Boston at Saturday's end, whether through losses by either foe or a win of their own. With some luck and a good performance on Saturday, they could lock their spot in as soon as Saturday, but if forced into a must-win game, it could mean the end of the Flyers season.

There are so many scenarios and realistically, three games of huge importance for the Flyers on Saturday, not just their own at 3 p.m. We'll know so much about the playoff picture as the day goes on.

Be sure to follow Flyerdelphia on Twitter throughout the day. In addition to getting you ready for Saturday's big game against the Penguins, we will constantly be updating the Detroit and Boston games so Flyers fans don't miss a beat with where the Flyers playoff chances lie.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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