Flyers: Path to Playoffs Still Exists Despite Losing Streak

Flyers: Path to Playoffs Still Exists Despite Losing Streak Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start this with the immediate caveat that the Flyers playoff hopes remain on life support. There is no room for further stumbling, and even if everything goes right for them in their own games, they would still need a lot of help. So this is not as much an expectation as it is presenting the scenario that would create the perfect storm.

Any Flyers playoff appearance at this point starts with their own play. Two games remain, and they would need to win both just to put the heat on the other teams in the race.

On Saturday, the Flyers take on the New Jersey Devils, who are both mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and will be without Jack Hughes due to season-ending shoulder surgery. If the Flyers were to win that game – any fashion will work but regulation would be better for tiebreaker purposes – they would then turn their attention to the scoreboard.

The New York Islanders are technically not out of reach for the Flyers as the Saturday schedule begins. But the Islanders need just one point over their final three games to guarantee a finish ahead of the Flyers, so that is essentially a formality. In fact, the Islanders can secure that point against the New York Rangers on Saturday before the Flyers ever take the ice for warmups in their game – facing the Rangers at 12:30 p.m.

Saturday’s game for the Flyers starts at 5 p.m. The Washington Capitals, who are tied with the Flyers at 85 points, face the Tampa Bay Lightning at 5:30 p.m. The Detroit Red Wings, also sitting at 85 points, face the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently hold the final playoff spot with 86 points, face the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m.

The perfect scenario for the Flyers here is a win of their own and losses in regulation for everyone else. If both Washington and Detroit lost in regulation, and the Flyers can win their own game in regulation, they would be in the driver’s seat against both teams. The Flyers regular-season finale is against the Capitals, and despite Washington having a game in hand, a Flyers win would give them the edge over the Capitals, regardless of Monday’s result. 

Similarly, if the Flyers can hold the edge in the regulation win tiebreaker over Detroit, a regulation loss on Saturday would make the remaining two results for them irrelevant if the Flyers win on Tuesday.

So all eyes go to Pittsburgh. The magic number for Pittsburgh is three. Any combination of three points won by Pittsburgh or lost by the Flyers would eliminate the Flyers. That could happen as soon as Saturday, if the Flyers were to lose in any fashion and the Penguins either win or get a point in the event of a Flyers regulation loss.

If Pittsburgh were to lose Saturday in regulation, and both Detroit and Washington did as well, the Flyers would actually assume the final playoff spot again if they hold up their end of the deal.

So the ideal scenario for Saturday, which would put them back in a playoff spot, is as follows:

  • Flyers win over Devils (preferably in regulation)
  • Capitals regulation loss to Lightning
  • Red Wings regulation loss to Maple Leafs
  • Penguins regulation loss to Bruins

That would shift attention to Monday, where every other team in the race plays while the Flyers are idle. If Saturday’s results are completely in favor of the Flyers, the Washington and Detroit games on Monday are inconsequential. All eyes would be on Pittsburgh again as they face the Nashville Predators.

If Pittsburgh enters the night trailing the Flyers by a point, gaining a point would at least mean that the race would come down to Wednesday’s season-finale for the Penguins. But if Pittsburgh were to also lose on Monday in regulation, the door would be open for the Flyers to actually clinch a playoff spot in Tuesday’s regular-season finale. 

But it all starts with Saturday. The Flyers need a win, and then the fan base starts rooting for the Lightning, Leafs, and Bruins to take down Washington, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. After that night, the picture will be much clearer, if not decided, but the potential is there for this to come down to Game 82.

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