At SBN's Bird Watchers Anonymous, they've examined the last several playoff races following the deadline and they've come up with several conclusions about how the proceedings typically shake out following that day.blog,
They broke down the standings each year in order to get some sort of idea how teams have historically fared when chasing teams already inside the playoff bubble from deadline day forward.
I'd recommend heading over and getting the full read before delving into what I'm to write below, just so you can understand the logic behind their post and behind coming to the conclusions they have. Note that all of the analysis is strictly historical and doesn't take into account this Flyers team. It's examining past trends.
The first conclusion:
It is extremely difficult for a team to make up ground after the Trade Deadline. If you're not within a point or two of 8th place on Trade Day the odds of making the post-season are very tough.
At the trade deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers held a five point lead over 9th place New York. A point or two? Yes, the Rangers were just one point out of the final spot, but that doesn't mean they're likely to catch the 6th place Flyers.
That, however, doesn't mean it can't happen. The next conclusion:
Only two teams have manged to overcome any sizable point deficit in the last 4 springs. The 2008 Washington Capitals made up 5 points and 2007 Rangers made up 7 points. Out of about 20 teams seeking to break into the top 8 only 10% have managed the feat over the last 4 springs.
That's impressive, and it basically says that teams who are in the playoff picture at deadline day typically stay there. 90 percent of the time, in fact. But, it also says that teams have gone on hot streaks to vastly improve their position. The Flyers certainly have a cushion of other teams below them to help out, though.
That brings us to this next conclusion, which should allow some of us to rest easily.
No team with a 4 point cushion on Trade Day has collapsed and fallen out of the playoffs (although the 2008almost pulled it off)
Remember, the Flyers lead at the deadline was five points over 9th place.
In recent years the bubble teams have increased their W% post-trade deadline which pushed up the number of points needed to get into 8th place
This one seems a little disconcerting. Essentially, it means that bubble teams, which the Flyers are not considered in BWA's numbers because of the point cushion they held on deadline day, increase their win percentage at the end of the season. Taking this into account with the fact that teams essentially never give up their positions leads you to believe that the teams in 5th, 6th and 7th places typically increase their win percentages as well.
While the bubble teams are fighting it out and essentially making it harder on themselves because everybody is winning games, the pressure will be on the Flyers. They'll have to continue to win hockey games at the pace they have since the start of 2010 if they'd like to experience playoff hockey this year. Fortunately, the odds of getting that done are in their favor.